All Saints High, Book #1
By L.J. Shen
Author’s Website: http://www.authorljshen.com/
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Heidi
*Beware of possible spoilers*
Daria Followhill is from a rich family, they live in a mansion, and she goes to a prestigious school. However, money doesn’t buy happiness and it doesn’t buy love.
Daria’s mother was a promising ballerina before she broke her leg. Now she teaches ballet. Daria works her butt off to try to be the ballerina that everyone thinks she should be. However, it is glaringly obvious that she is a poor imitation of her mother. Via is her mother’s star student. She’s pretty, wears the best leotards, and is a perfect ballerina. She’s also Daria’s arch nemesis.
One afternoon, Daria was sent on a Starbucks run while her mom had a chat with Via. She stumbles upon an acceptance letter for Via to a prestigious ballet school in her mom’s bag. She is fuming when a boy, Penn, approaches her asking to be her friend and offering her his precious sea glass. He sees her clutching the letter in anger and he destroys it, without even knowing what it was. She instantly feels better. He then kisses her, a first for her, and he tells her that he wants all of her firsts.
Soon after, Penn’s twin sister runs away from home. He hasn’t seen her in days so he goes to her ballet school to see if her teacher knows her whereabouts. That’s when Daria realizes the boy that made her feel is the twin of her bitter rival, Via. And, when he discovers the letter they destroyed is the one thing that would have kept Via from leaving (and meeting her probable death) he vows to get revenge.
Four years later, he gets the perfect opportunity to stick it to Daria. Her mom takes him into their home. Now they see each other every day. He no longer wants her firsts, but he has no problem toying with her until he can discard her like trash and make her life a living hell. However, things aren’t what they seem in the Followhill household. He discovers a girl that just wants to be loved by a mother who has given up. That girl acts out to cover up her own pain. Penn sees it all. His anger cools and the chemistry heats up between the teens. Until someone comes along that wants to destroy them both!
“I break, tears falling across my cheeks. I wipe my nose with the sleeve of my pale pink cardigan. Penn makes his way to me, jerking me up to my feet and wrapping his arms around me. I drown in him. In his touch. In his soul.
“Marx, Penn. I thought you were using me.”
“Whoa.” He pretends to pull away for a fraction of a second. “Who said that I’m not?”
I was hesitant to start this series since I’m not a fan of the young adult genre or high school drama. However, I do love L.J. Shen’s writing so I decided to give it a try. The beginning of the story was full of teen angst and I started to regret my decision to read this book. Daria was a spoiled brat who liked to make others suffer and gave me major Heathers and Cruel Intentions vibes. Penn was the kid from the wrong side of the tracks. His rough upbringing hardened him and made him a sarcastic smart-ass that didn’t care what others thought of him.
“Ever watch Lady and the Tramp?” He drags the tip of his nose along mine, trying to distract me from whatever’s in my head.
“Remember the spaghetti scene?”
“I think so.”
“Who was the one to pull away from the kiss, Lady or Tramp?”
I search my brain for the answer, but it’s been years since I’ve watched it. Honestly, it wasn’t one of my favorite movies. I always wondered what a royal bitch would find in a dirty stray. But I know now. Oh, I know very well why girls of pedigree love the mutts. They’re forbidden. Exciting. And taming them is a challenge no silver-spooned princess can turn down.”
Even though I wasn’t crazy about the beginning of the story, I kept reading it because once I start reading a book, I have to finish! Then, about halfway through the novel, things changed and I found myself really enjoying it. This is when Penn and Daria really started connecting and I fell for their hard knocks against-all-odds love story. Of course, it’s never quite that easy and these two had a lot of hurdles to overcome. Especially when one of them deems the relationship toxic and gives up on the other. I wanted to smack that person for quite a while.
“I’ve loved you in secret, and I’ve loved you openly in front of both our worlds, and if you think I’ll stop loving you if you put an ocean between us, you’re dead wrong.”
As the book continued, I didn’t want to put it down and I quickly read through to the end. It was so worth it and reminds me of why I love this author’s writing. There was so much emotion in this book, which I always love. I want a book that makes me feel and this one did that in spades!
“You were never a drizzle, Penn Scully. When I fell for you, you came beating down, and I felt you everywhere. You were hail.”
I loved Penn, even when he was at his jerkiest! I will always love the cocky asshole, especially when he has a crappy past to boot and a heart of gold (if you can find it). I love how he didn’t care what others thought, even those providing a roof over his head. He was just him, unapologetically Penn. He loves few, but he will protect those few with all he has. Lord help anyone that hurts them though!
This book had a lot of great secondary characters as well. I loved Knight and Vaughn (more cockiness) and I really liked Daria’s dad as well.
It turns out that this series is a spin-off of Shen’s Sinner’s of Saint series so I will need to read both series in the near future! Luckily they can be read separately though as the All Saints High series are the books of the kids of the characters that are in the Sinner’s of Saint series. And I actually have read one of them, Bane, which was really good as well.
This book is a mix of young adult and steamy sexy romance with a sprinkling of an enemies to lovers storyline as well. And, once you get past the initial brattiness of the characters, it’s a nice mix. I will definitely be reading more!