Release Date: December 9, 2014
Series: Radleigh University #1
Review Source: eARC from author for review
Lizzie Brandt was valedictorian of her high school class, but at Radleigh University, all she's acing are partying and hooking up with the wrong guys. But all that changes when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, making her guardian to her two younger brothers. To keep them out of foster care, she'll have to fix up her image, her life, and her GPA—fast. Too bad the only person on campus she can go to for help is her humorless, pedantic Byzantine History TA, Connor Lawson, who isn't exactly Lizzie's biggest fan.
But Connor surprises her. Not only is he a great tutor, but he’s also a pretty great babysitter. And chauffeur. And listener. And he understands exactly what it’s like to be on your own before you're ready. Before long, Lizzie realizes having a responsible-adult type around has its perks... and that she'd like to do some rather irresponsible (but considerably adult) things with him as well. Good thing he's not the kind of guy who'd ever reciprocate.
Until he does.
Until they turn into far more than teacher and student.
Until the relationship that helped put their lives back together threatens everything they both have left.
We’ve grown to expect a certain kind of story in the New Adult category. Romance in itself tells stories with similar endings and certain types of situations, but I think that’s the real beauty of the genre. Tropes can be tiresome in some instances, but they’re also tropes for a reason. Certain types of tropes, when done well, can tell us a good story, and that’s exactly what Dahlia Adler has done here. Last Will and Testament, on the surface, is a story that you’ve probably heard before. It's about the girl with dead parents, who suddenly has to take care of her siblings. It's also the "hot for teacher" story, where the girl falls for her TA. You may have seen these elements before, but the way the author tells the story makes these characters and situations feel real, not just tropes we’ve seen a million times.
While I definitely enjoyed this book, there were a couple parts I had a harder time with. I would have liked a little more of Lizzie dealing with her parents' death. There are definitely a few moments, and of course she has a lot going on, but it felt almost absent in a few parts. Another thing I was skeptical about was the character of Sophie. There must be completely evil mean girls in existence somewhere, or else the stereotype wouldn’t exist, but I had a hard time believing that Sophie’s motivation for acting out was so strong that she would take her actions that far. All that being said, it did make for an interesting subplot, so maybe you can favour the plot over the believability (or maybe it's just me being naive about the nature of people).
Anyway, for the couple things I was so-so on, the rest of the book more than made up for it. One of the best aspects of the book is Lizzie and her brothers. It’s such a tough situation, and Lizzie wasn’t always the perfect authority figure with the perfect responses, but that made it all the more realistic. So often you see a "love conquers all" theme in books or movies, and that's sweet, but not always realistic. Lizzie downright adores her little brothers, but that doesn't mean she goes from college student to super mom-figure in one leap. She makes mistakes and says dumb things. She's human, and her propensity to keep trying in spite of her failures is what makes her such a great character. On the romance end of things, because there is definitely a great romance here, I really liked Lizzie and Connor together. Their chemistry is basically flawless. I really respected Connor for trying to do what he thought was the Right Thing, but I also liked that this made him wishy washy at times. He's an amazing hero, but he's not faultless. He swoops in to help Lizzie with her crazy situation, but he's not a completely perfect knight in shining armour, which makes him more believable.
While I didn't connect with every single part of Last Will and Testament, I did think the characters were very 3D and real feeling. I also found the emotions of the book to be very honest and deep. I mean, I totally cried at one point, which definitely doesn't always happen. I enjoyed this book overall, and I can't wait for the next book in this universe. I love Dahlia Adler's books and I think at this point I'll read anything she writes.
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I also posted an excerpt from the book, which you can read here.