Once Upon a Bad Boy by Melonie Johnson

After reading the first two Sometimes in Love books (Smitten by the Brit and Getting Hot with the Scot) I was over the moon when my NetGalley request for Once Upon a Bad Boy was approved. The first two struck a great balance of sizzling romance and heart – with no shortages of chemistry. Unfortunately, Once Upon a Bad Boy failed to live up to my expectations and was ultimately a forgettable serial romance with some problematic tendencies.

NEVER SAY NEVER
Sadie Gold is ready to take her career to the next level with the role of a lifetime. Finally, she can shake her reputation as a pretty face with more wealth and connections than talent. But Sadie is not prepared for the wild turn her own life is about to take. The man in charge of training Sadie for her most demanding role yet is none other than her first real boyfriend—the one who took her heart and ran away.

WHEN IT COMES TO LOVE
Bo Ibarra is as good-looking and irresistible as ever. Maybe even more so, now that everything once worked against them—Sadie’s pampered and privileged upbringing and Bo’s childhood in a family struggling to make ends meet—is in the past. But the future is still unwritten…and getting there, together, means coming clean about painful secrets and slashing through nasty tabloid rumors while trying to control the attraction that crackles between them. Maybe it’s finally time for them to walk off into the sunset and into a true and lasting love?

While all of the books in this series have been a little bit predictable, they at least added their own spice and chemistry to their familiar romance plot lines. In Once Upon a Bad Boy, it really felt like a million romance books I’ve read before. There wasn’t anything to set it apart from the herd, and I have a feeling that in a few weeks I likely won’t remember much about this book. The plot was predictable to the point that it was boring to read at times. Also, there were definitely way too many cliches jammed in – I don’t mind one or two in my romance books, but their overuse can really bring down the quality of a book.

The biggest issue with this book – and this is a spoiler – how it handled the topic of the main character getting an abortion. It was treated as a big plot twist, but little was done in terms of developing Sadie’s thoughts and emotions around the whole situation. Using abortion as a plot device without fully fleshing out the emotional impact on the character made it feel trivialized and poorly handled. It was built up to, dropped like a bombshell, and then all of the focus went to how those around Sadie dealt with it. And was that ever painful to read – her ‘best friend’ Ana, was ultimately angry at Sadie for not telling her that she had gotten an abortion – rather than being supportive of her friend’s choices and privacy. It was cold, self-centered, and showed just how poorly the friendships in this book were developed. Bo’s reaction was even worse – he was angry that he wasn’t made aware of her choice and that she had taken what he perceived to be his child away. He lashed out at her and was deeply vicious and far, far beyond redemption in my eyes.

Once Upon a Bad Boy just fell flat, especially when compared to its predecessors. It was a very basic, well trodden story line with flat characters and virtually no chemistry. Also, the poor handling of deeply personal and sensitive issues really rubbed me the wrong way. I would still highly recommend the first two books in the series to people who are looking for some good whirlwind romances with excellent chemistry. 2/5.

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