Review: “The Bully” by Willa Nash

Series: Calamity, Montana #4

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Steam: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: March 3rd, 2022

Add to Goodreads | Amazon.in (Available on KU)

CW/TW: bullying as teenagers, toxic family situations

Nellie Rivera is trading traffic for tranquility. When the quiet streets of small-town Montana beckon, she leaves Denver behind and moves to Calamity. It would be the perfect adventure if not for Cal Stark.

When her archnemesis dares to show his face one Saturday morning, declaring he is moving there too, she vows to make his life a misery. The town isn’t big enough for the both of them and besides . . .

She was here first.

Cal has been a thorn in her side since high school. He might have bullied her back then, but she’s not a modest teenager anymore and has learned a few plays of her own. If all goes to plan, she’ll run the former pro quarterback out of town within a month.

There’s only one problem. Cal has the same plan. He wants Calamity bad enough to pull out all the stops. And after one kiss, she realizes that he doesn’t play fair.

 

As someone who is not a big fan of the enemies to lovers trope, I went into this book very carefully and nervously. But I came out of it in tears and with my heart racing because Nellie and Cal completely transformed my life. These characters evolve into an enemies with benefits situation that is all kinds of hot and lemme just say that Willa Nash (aka Devney Perry) has a magical touch when it comes to all of her stories. I have loved every minute of these Calamity, Montana books and I never want this series to end!

Having known each other since they were 14, Nellie and Cal have spent the last 20 years angry with each other. Nellie’s feelings towards Cal have only gotten more and more intense as the years go by, while Cal ignores her the best he can. As a professional football player, Cal has spent a lot of time away from Nellie, but whenever they cross paths things are incredibly tense. So much so that everyone around them knows how much they don’t like each other. And it doesn’t help that as teenagers, popular and rich jock Cal tormented and ruined Nellie’s life the best way he could. And now, 20 years, Cal has finally retired from football after giving it his all and he’s moved to Calamity. For Nellie, escaping Cal hasn’t been easy and she’s finally found a place where she belongs, but Cal has made it his mission to make that his place to belong too and she’s not having it.

The enemies to lovers trope is strong with this book and I loved it so much. It’s not this casual kind of dislike where they fall in love by chapter 10, they snipe, bicker and bite at each other through most of the book. They’ve held onto this dislike and frustration for each other for years, so it’s not going away that easily. Besides, being around each other makes all these confusing feelings come to the surface and none of them want that. Well, Nellie doesn’t want that, Cal’s gotten good at compartmentalising these things. There are a lot of secrets and yes, the miscommunication is pretty obvious through the book. But I think for once, that didn’t hinder my enjoyment, it actually added to it!

“There was a constant hate simmering beneath the surface. Attraction was its constant companion. And fuck, but we were hot together. We’d sparked, and there was no chance of stopping.”

I know that a long, gushing review will give a lot away, but there were some things that blew me away about this book. Things that I can’t stop thinking about as I write this review.

Willa/Devney UPPED THE ANTE with the steam in this book. Good lord. Sure, the sexual tension and chemistry is explosive and every time they’re on the page together, it’s palpable. But the steamy scenes? It’s hot and angry, it’s desperate and hungry and it’s all kinds of delicious. I loved that they wanted to stay away from each other, but had to fight with every fibre of their being to actually make that happen. And my god, you are not ready for just how incredible these two are together.

I absolutely loved the bits with Nellie’s diary, because it shows Cal go through these moments of regret and flashbacks to when he was awful to her. And while it’s so painful to see what she went through from her perspective, seeing it through his eyes gives you the whole picture and it’s even more painful, but also so beautiful.

CAL STARK. Guys. I have a new favourite. Yes, Nellie is absolutely brilliant and I’ll get to her in a minute. But Cal. He’s grumpy, broody and sexy all at the same time all the time. He portrays himself as this bad boy with no care for the world, but he’s so much more. I love how deep he is and how he doesn’t use his goodness for publicity. In fact, Cal’s gotten so used to being called the “asshole” that he’s stopped trying to change the way people see him. He lets them keep that opinion while he does all the good behind the scenes. And while it takes you time to forgive him for the things he’s done and said to Nellie, you can’t help but love him the whole time.

And NELLIE RIVERA. Sweet lord, this heroine is so wonderful. I have loved all of the women in the Calamity, Montana series, and Nellie joins the ranks of being another brilliantly amazing heroine. Coming from nothing, Nellie has worked her way up to be something more than just a scholarship kid from a fancy school. She’s cautious, but friendly. She’s sassy and outgoing, beautiful and completely unaware of it. Nellie is the soul of this book while Cal is the heart and it would be incomplete without both of them being so perfectly awesome in every way.

Thanks to Willa Nash & Valentine PR for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

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