A Feeling-Filled Opposites Attract, Enemies to Lovers Romance!
“Taunting her was like trash-talking the best lineman on a fourth-down conversion attempt. Either I’d find a way to get the ball down the field, or I’d get my ass sacked. Regardless, the game was a rush.”
Don’t let the title fool you. The Bully by Willa Nash is an enemies to lovers, opposites attract romance set in Calamity. Both Cal Stark and Nellie Rivera give as good as they get for decades. Told in the present tense but with flashbacks to high school, Cal and Nellie’s explosive relationship is the epitome of lashing out in order to hide their pain and deeper feelings.
Nellie and Cal’s relationship goes back to high school with Pierce (from The Brazen), and their tumultuous freshman year together at an exclusive private school in Colorado. Nellie is one of two students per grade who get chosen to attend with an academic scholarship. Whereas Cal comes from a wealthy family and is a rising football star to boot. You can see where there might be tension. The problem with teens though is that even at their most vulnerable, they are capable of such harm. And both Cal and Nellie let their insecurities get in the way of their feelings for each other.
“Cal was magic with a football in his hand. He had raw talent that was utterly beautiful to behold. And when he was playing, I always saw the boy who’d given me my first kiss.”
I loved getting to know Nellie and Cal via diary entries written by Nellie and then explained through Cal’s narrative. These two have a constant war of words and actions, each more explosive than the next. I admired how Cal’s walls were broken down by his cantankerous next door neighbor, and that Nellie had to break down her own walls of harsh judgement that she had built to protect herself from Cal.
The Bully could easily be a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, but with a story that spans a much longer time frame. This isn’t a slowburn either. Cal and Nellie fulfill all their physical desires while trying to keep their hearts out of the way. Luckily for us, and for them too, they are unsuccessful. The ending of The Bully is poignant in a way that felt real and very right for the two characters and their families.
“But life’s not about what most people think. Life’s about finding the right people. The one’s who will take you at your worst, so you can give them your best.”
As always, Willa Nash teases what is yet to come with every release and I look forward to meeting the next couple to take Calamity by storm. The Bully is full of banter, laugh out loud situations, and so many feelings that I know there will be something for everyone to enjoy.
Jes is a self-proclaimed bookworm, who recently moved from the PNW back to the Midwest. When her nose isn’t in a book, she’s spending time with her husband, two kids, and her three fur babies, or exploring the globe. She also firmly believes that you should start the day with coffee, and end the day in bed with a good book.