Hate To Love You (Bakers Bunch Book 1) by Lily Ryan

Book Blurb:

All it takes is one kiss.
One mind-bending, toe-curling, life altering kiss to change everything. 
The night my brother faces death, I embrace life. 
I’m a mess. Until the strong arms of Cole Andrews find me.
Tears turn to kisses, and comfort to lust.
As the men in my life take turns falling off their pedestals, one man rises. 
The one I’ve wanted for years. The man I’m head over heels in love with.
My brother’s best friend. 
Cole Andrews.

Samantha Stone is forbidden. 
Off limits.
She’s been running around my head for the last year. 
In the face of tragedy, she’s left alone, vulnerable and crying in my arms. 
What harm can come of one kiss? 
One kiss leads into one night of unforgettable passion that changes everything.
I can’t let her go, but for her brother’s sake, we need to keep it secret. 
Secrets have a way of rising to the surface and destroying everything in their path. 
When they do who will be left standing? Will I lose her? My best friend? Or both?

My Review:

If you are looking for a book that is filled with angst, secrets and childhood longing then this is most definitely the book for you. It is about what finally happens when the secret love you have for your older brother’s best friend gets set loose in amongst a sea of lies and secrets and that hope that it can still survive.

Samantha has been in love with her older brother Tyler’s best friend Cole for as long as she can remember. As a child she wanted to be around him all the time and she gave up girlie things and liking princesses so that she could hang around with them and they just did boy things. Whilst on the surface it appears that Sam’s life is perfect, as she comes to turning 18 and starts preparing to leave for college her world starts to crumble. She finds out that her boyfriend is actually gay, he high school bully steps up her torture, her parents apparently perfect marriage is falling apart and she fails to see the pain her brother is really in until it is almost too late. Faced with all the pain and emotions when everything falls apart all at once, Sam is comforted by the one person who always makes her feel better and given all the pain and loss she is feeling she seeks comfort and decides that now is the right time to tell Cole exactly how she feels and she makes her move.

For Cole, Sam was always a bit more than a little sister. She was someone he wanted to protect and care for even at a young age, but for him the age difference was always obvious. But all of that changed in the last year when it became harder to ignore the beauty that Sam had grown into. It must have been obvious to his best friend Tyler who has been threatening him away from Sam for years. But on that awful night with so much emotion being thrown around Sam finally tells Cole how she feels and he is unable to resist her. Knowing she is a virgin and inexperienced, he takes his time with the promise of more and it seems like the start of a perfect relationship that they decide to keep to themselves. But nothing built on a foundation of secrets and lies ever really stands a chance. Can they work through the mess that they both caused to find their happily ever after?

I found this book very difficult to rate as I struggled to get an idea on what age range the characters were in. I know that Cole is older and he definitely acts it, but Sam was more immature than the 18 years that they suggest she is. There were times when I was literally getting frustrated and shouting at my Kindle to tell her to grow up. Her behaviour, lack of communication and generally bratty attitude made it really difficult for me to like her as a character. I wanted her to grow up, start communicating and generally fight for what she keeps saying she wants but her lack of fight really started to grate on me. Plus, I never understood whatever it was that she had with Zane. I hate unanswered questions and while she does explain little bits that did not happen with him there were too many big gaps for me.

As for Cole, I quite liked him. I understood his rationale for wanting to keep their relationship a secret and his desire to protect everyone involved. I don’t know how he kept chasing after Sam when all she did was mess him around and treat him like crap. But I liked his kind, cock, dirty talking personality and it made me like him as a character. I liked the fact that in spite of her many flaws Cole knew he loved Sam no matter what and he wanted to help her through her pain and insecurities until she trusted him. That was the redeeming quality in their relationship for me. I liked seeing how he helped Sam gain confidence, start to trust him and learn to let him in.

Overall, for me this is a book with a lot of potential but not one that I would read again. I struggled too much with finding Sam annoying and I couldn’t understand her rationale even though it is clear she is going through a lot. There is also very little back story or lack of describing qualities that for me makes a book great. We are given hints of the characters’ lives, like that they are employed or are going to college but we are not actually told what they do. Characters like Austin, Zane, Callie and Hunter are all dropped in to play little parts but they almost seem insignificant as once their little bit is over we hear no more from them. However, there were times when the description blew me away, particularly the vivid imagery used to describe both characters eyes and yet when it comes to the big ball dress reveal there is nothing. We don’t even know what colour Sam wore or what it looked like. This is the sort of description that would have immersed me in the book so much more. Finally, as I explained before there seemed to be a lot of unanswered questions and plot holes. I know that this is the first book in a series so hopefully some of the unanswered questions will get addressed in the next book, which I would love to read. I think with a bit of work this book could be great and I know Lily Ryan has the potential to be a great author just from the way she describes the characters eyes alone. I look forward to seeing what her future work has to offer. As for if I would recommend this book it will always be yes. I may not want to read it again but everyone has different tastes and I think you need to try it and see for yourself!

Note: I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available for purchase here:

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/31zTtBd

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