Be My Downfall (Whitman University)

Be My Downfall (Whitman University)

by Lyla Payne

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Toby Wright has always prided himself on being one of the most normal guys at Whitman University. He loves his parents, has a great job lined up after graduation, and with the exception of attempting to cross the unbalanced Sebastian Blair sophomore year, has kept his nose pretty clean.

But the rich never have empty closets, and memories long stashed away come spilling free when notorious party girl Kennedy Gilbert almost dies in his dorm room.

Nobody really knows how Kennedy manages to stay in good standing at Whitman–she never goes to class, doesn't pretend to care about her future, and as far as people can tell, is never sober. This isn't her first meeting with a stomach pump, but it is the first time she's woken up to Toby's concerned brown eyes. Despite the fact that she prefers life without friends, he gets under her skin with his insistence on playing her guardian angel.

No one knows better than Toby that people can only be saved if they want to be, but the realization that she has no one else draws him back into the shadows of Kennedy's life–and eventually into her bed. But she long ago came to terms with a truth that Toby refuses to accept: she doesn't want to be rescued, she only wants to forget.

Unwilling to give up on her, Toby's dragged under by this broken girl and her dark, twisted Whitman University he never guessed existed. If he struggles to the surface, he'll abandon someone he loves for the second time in his life. If he doesn't, it won't be long until they both drown.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940148760757
Publisher: Author Published
Publication date: 09/20/2013
Series: Whitman University , #3
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 310
Sales rank: 181,276
File size: 661 KB

About the Author

Lyla Payne has been publishing New Adult romance novels for a little over a year, starting with Broken at Love and continuing with the rest of the Whitman University series. She loves telling stories, discovering the little reasons people fall in love, and uncovering hidden truths in the world around us – past and present. In her spare time she cuddles her two dogs, pretends to enjoy exercising so that she can eat as much Chipotle as she wants, and harbors a deep and abiding hope that Zac Efron likes older women. She loves reading, of course, along with movies, traveling, and Irish whiskey. Lyla’s hard at work, ALWAYS, and hopes to bring you more Whitman University antics and at least one more Lowcountry ghost tale before the end of the year.

If you want to know more, please visit her at

If you’re a fan of Young Adult fiction—science fiction or otherwise—please check out her work that’s published under the name Trisha Leigh.

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Be My Downfall (a Whitman University novel) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
erpearson More than 1 year ago
How do you know when you're falling in love? When the absolute worst person for you turns out to be your soul mate? Toby Wright is lost and broken. Toby Wright doesn't want a relationship. Kennedy Gilbert has her "screw the world" attitude down to a science and drinks away her guilt and pain. Kennedy Gilbert couldn't be more wrong for Toby Wright..or could she?  Lyla Payne has done it again. Talk about an emotionally mind blowing ride. I could not put this book down. I could relate on a very personal and very real level with these characters. The pain and the beauty this story portrays is unbelievable. I cried, I laughed, I screamed, and I may have thrown my kindle at one point. To be able to put into words the emotional toll this book put me through is near impossible. This is more than just a must read; this is a story that will hold your heart for a lifetime.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I almost didn't read this book. I'm glad I did, though. I'm glad Toby found his happily ever after. He and Kennedy were perfect for each other.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! I enjoyed reading this book and the series! Great plot and characters! Can't wait to read more!
heatherheartsbooksHK More than 1 year ago
Be My Downfall was one of my most-awaited and most-impatient-for fall 2014 titles. I received it just a few days before I got diagnosed with leukemia and everything in my life became a blur of chaos. Be My Downfall was a welcome escape from the reality I was living in that moment. The third installment of the Whitman University series focuses on Toby Wright and Kennedy Gilbert. Toby has had a minor role in each of the first two books in the series and I was looking very forward to the day when he would get his own book. Of all the guys in the Whitman University world, I've found him to be the most human and the most introspective, even though he initially came off as having a harsh side. Kennedy Gilbert was an entirely new character, known for her penchant to party and notorious for her truly death-defying moments while imbibing. She chooses alcohol over friends and attachment to any people. Toby is facing the pressure in his future professional life from his parents who don't support his dreams to be a writer and wish he would pursue the business-side of filmmaking, if he pursues it at all. Each of them are so broken in their own ways that the odds that they should be able to come together seem extremely slim, yet they seem drawn to each other. Against those odds, they manage to be for each other the one person who can help them heal their wounds. Lyla dealt with a really difficult topic in the form of alcoholism, especially considering the degree to which Kennedy is affected by it. At the beginning of the novel, it seems like death by alcohol poisoning is Kennedy's future. Lyla handles it in a really authentic manner -- she doesn't sugarcoat it, glamorize it, or allow Kennedy to suddenly be magically fixed by a boy. She struggles, she relapses, she even disappears for awhile. I fell in love with the Whitman University in June and it was my first step into the world of NA. Broken at Love, the first in the series, was absolute perfection to me. While I loved By Referral Only and I enjoyed the sweeter story of Ruby and Cole, I remained extremely partial to Broken at Love, because I felt Lyla really captured each character so well and wrote the multiple points of view seamlessly. But Be My Downfall was so well done and really dealt with some of the nitty gritty things, making it so unique. While I do remain taken with with Broken at Love (I have a habit of loving the first book in the series the most), Be My Downfall edged out By Referral Only to take the spot of my second favorite book in the Whitman University series -- and it's definitely worth a read. If you love it as much as I did, you'll finish it in one sitting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Never give up. That what you get out of this book. Awesome series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved Toby and Kennedy! The POV from Toby was great.....there are so many books out there that are girl saves guy not guy saves girl. The author went deep into their emotions and problems. I also did like there were certain parts that went into detail about Kennedy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TheAutumnReview More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Be My Downfall. I will say that it was the darker of the three books in the series, in my opinion. The issues both Toby and Kennedy face are intense, emotional, and a bit heartbreaking.  I liked Toby from the first book. I'm happy with the way things worked out for Em, but Toby is a really good guy. I had hopes that he would find someone worthy of him. In this book, he meets the campus nutcase, Kennedy, at a party he's hosting over break. It's clear from the start that this girl has some very serious issues. Not only does she seem to party hard, but there is obviously something else that she's battling with. Toby feels drawn to her. He wants to help her. See, Toby had a brother that struggled with drug addiction. It was devastating to his family and still haunts them. So, I think Toby saw that Kennedy needed help, but he didn't fully understand the depth to Kennedy's issues. But, he wanted to be there to help her, understand her, and show her love. Toby proved, once again, that he's one of the good ones.  Oh my, poor Kennedy. I won't discuss the reasons why Kennedy is the way she is in detail, but I will say that she struggles with two very serious issues. My heart broke for Kennedy. She was so lost and lonely. There was something about Toby that made her feel. Like Toby, she was drawn to him. He seemed to give her peace and hope that maybe she could be ok with being happy again.  Throughout the book, there are flashback scenes that tell the story of what happened to Kennedy. I liked getting those chapters, but the time sequence was a bit all over the place. I don't have a problem going back in time, etc, but these scenes were a but jumpy to me. The other thing I felt like I wanted more information about or feel was unresolved was this issue with Toby's brother. I was curious to know what happened with that situation.  Overall, I really enjoyed it. I've enjoyed all of the couples in this series, but I think Toby and Kennedy touched me just a little bit more. Likely because they made me feel the most.  It was great to see all the characters again too. I was curious to see how they would all tie together considering the way Toby and Em's friendship stood. I had a smile on my face every time yummy Cole came into a scene. He makes me smile. I'm really enjoying the Whitman University Series and look forward to what's to come. Definitely check this one out! Quotes: ~She tastes like strawberries and horrible, horrible choices, but when her lips parted to let my tongue brush over hers, I knew I needed to do her and get it over with-get her out of my system.-Loc 577 ~"I'm a writer, strawberry, and that means I'm a creepy observer. I've been watching you since we met in St. Moritz, and the saddest part is, you want to be happy. We have to figure out how to that okay."-Loc 2106 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was given the opportunity to read this ARC for the third book in the Whitman University Novels. I have read the second installment By Referral Only but haven't read Broken At Love which started all this. Which is Okay. I guess. LOL. As I am kinda scared to read that. I have heard Quinn was very messed up. So... Back to this installment. I was so happy with the fact that this book was from a male POV- specifically from Toby's who I think has had a bad reputation in the 1st book. I haven't read the first so I dunno what he did but I know it was something shady. I dunno I liked read reading from his POV a lot. And he didn't seem like a jerk that people were making him out to be. I found him serious, honest and mature for a 19 year old. He was a dedicated student. Now he has had a broken /damaged past and I dunno I truly felt the pain, the hopelessness, the frustration, the love when I was reading this book. So kudos to Lyla for doing that. I truly liked this book. From the two books that I have read by Lyla. This took the top spot. Where By Referral Only was a good read. Be My Downfall was a great read. And I don't say that much about NA books. But I was seriously surprised by how much I liked the characters in this installment. We had recurring roles in the shapes of Emilie and Quinn form Broken At Love and Ruby and Cole from By Referral Only along with Audra (Cole's sister) and many others. The book majorly focused on Toby's point of view but in between it would have Kennedy's (third-person) narrative. Those were painful but gave us an insight to why Kennedy was the way she was. I really fell for Kennedy. I liked her a lot. I am so glad Toby was there for her and I was so angry but sad more for her when she wouldn't accept his help because she had to accept her help first. She was a girl who lost her parents at a young age and then due to her grandma she began to live in guilt. She thought she didn't deserve to be happy. She stopped feeling. Which is just sad. I thought this book was genuine and with NA novels I don't feel this emotion that much (I have only felt this emotion with J. Lynn's NA titles and some H.M. Ward's). We have a book with two leads who have a connection. The male lead Toby has had dealt with someone similar from his past with a problem like Kennedy and he knows he should disengage but he can't fail our female lead because he has come to really care for her and also wants to save her from her own downfall but also live with letting her go and living his own life. This book dealt with deep stuff. Like seriously we have seen such individuals dealing with addiction depicted in TV shows and what not. The ones we love have gone down the spiral and lost themselves forever. We know just like Toby that first they need to save themselves in order for us to save them. Also I am quite pleased that this book didn't focus that much on sexy stuff. There have been other NA books out there that focus more on that stuff rather than the story and the genuine feels. I would have given this book five stars if only it had made me laugh.- it was a sad book. And I like to laugh once in a while. But it gets four stars for its genuineness and making me want to finish it even when my eyes just wanted a shutdown. Will I recommend this installment? Yeah.  Teaser: "Like if we live wrong, it means we didn't love them."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jetches More than 1 year ago
This story was definitely an emotional one, and one that hit home. Alcoholism is a serious subject and it has affected my family so reading about it hit me in the heart a bit. A lot of people's experiences with alcoholism are different and the one that affects my family is not like this, so I guess I could somewhat relate and somewhat not relate. It was a little weird emotionally while reading this, but all of that aside this was a pretty interesting romance. I liked how put together Toby was. He's a little different from all the men in New Adult novels, and I liked it. Granted I have not read the first two novels in this series (and obviously I should), but I found Toby refreshing. Even though he's gone through some serious stuff he's still the kind of guy that can go to a party, can go on vacation, and studies. He seems pretty normal. But, Toby is good an appearing normal on the outside while his insides are all messed up-thats the life he leads as a political son. Kennedy on the other hand isn't. She's just messed up period. To be honest I'm not entirely sure if I like Kennedy. She's had a bit of a `Carrie' upbringing with a crazy grandmother that basically hated her, but when she reflects back on her childhood and hear her grandmother say those things she reflects on how crazy her grandmother is, and when that happens I just can't understand her. But, the romance between them is pretty awesome. I love that he can bring her out of her darkness and he refuses to give into her, instead he shows her what it means to live. But, overall the only thing a side from Kennedy that I didn't like was the fact that there are basically no happy moments in this novel. There is a moment on a plane, but otherwise I didn't feel happy or didn't feel the characters were happy at all. It was kind of weird. But, the book was still a good emotional read about two characters that were trying for each other. Good: The romance between Toby and Kennedy, especially their first night together, but including ever one of their nights together. Toby- Although messed up he's a pretty good guy. Bad: Some of the age and year stuff with Kennedy doesn't add up. I received an ARC copy, so maybe that's the reason, but I'm pretty sure how old she was when he parents passed kept changing. It threw me off a bit. The lack of happiness--Generally when reading why empathize with the characters and what is happening to them, we smile when they smile, we hurt when they hurt. This book is filled with a lot of hurt so I can honestly say there weren't many moments while reading it that I found myself, and the characters, feeling happy. Overall (Writing style, story line, and general): Overall it was still an enjoyable read. I still like the characters and the serious situation they go through and really did enjoy the romance and they way the responded to each other. I received an ARC copy, so any of the timeline of grammatical issues are hopefully corrected in the finished copy. This book was provided courtesy of the author/publisher for review; however, this is no way affected my review.
ZephyrArabian More than 1 year ago
This third installment of Whitman University was a crazy cakes ride that makes you feel sh*t (just to steal some lines from Lyla). This is my favorite book in the series yet. Raw. Emotional. Honest. Down and Dirty. It grabbed your heart, ripped it out, and placed it back in ever so slowly. The writing is amazing. The storyline leaves nothing to the imagination and yet keeps you guessing around every turn. Strawberry Kennedy and Toby PITA Wright are by far my favorite characters and I know you will fall in love with them too. It always interesting reading a book from a male POV, but I loved Toby. I also enjoyed the flashbacks into Kennedy’s world. Lyla is going to have a tough time impressing us with a fourth story at WU, but I can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeves next. This was an honest, well-deserved review in exchange for an ARC ahead of the official BMD release. Thank you Lyla Payne for sharing your world with us!! Some of my favorite lines: -She was going to be pissed she had fallen asleep again with me in the room -You didn’t need a master’s degree in head shrinking to see the folly of trying to wade into the deep end of the pool with a girl who’d rather drown with me than teach me to swim -Being with you is like…is like going home -The way I felt right now, like I’d swallowed a shot glass of stars and they were gushing inside of me like sparklers on the 4th of July -What box do you have me in now? -It was like the ending of every stupid chick click ever, when things magically worked out and people ended up happy, except this was better than any movie I had ever seen. Because we’d earned it. Because it was real life. And because this wasn’t the end of anything
kimberlyfaye More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the first two books in the Whitman University series. They were pretty light and fluffy. There was good angst and some pretty steamy scenes. I was expecting more of the same when I began reading this novel. I couldn't have been more wrong. Sure, it was an easy read and there were some damn steamy scenes, but there was a lot more to this story. It hits on some tough topics, but does so with charming, likable characters and an engrossing storyline. To the outside world, Kennedy Gilbert is just a party girl. She likes to drink and sleep around. The truth is, she's an incredibly intelligent girl and she's beyond broken. She uses sex and alcohol to deal with the pain she's experiencing. Her parents and her baby brother died in an accident when she was younger. She feels both guilt and responsibility for their deaths. She doesn't want good things for herself because they're no longer here to experience good things of their own. Her destructive behavior is a cry for help. But, she doesn't trust other people and doesn't let anyone in. Toby Wright is a good guy. His dad is a Senator. He tries to steer clear of drama. He likes to have fun and doesn't want to be tied down. He's not looking for a relationship. He never counted on meeting someone like Kennedy either. She begins to open up and let him in. They become friends and he feels a need to protect her, to show her there's more to life than how she's living right now. Kennedy and Toby share a strong chemistry and it's only a mere matter of time before they sleep together. He pushes her to feel things she's not used to feeling with another person, things that have nothing to do with pain. There's a lot of back and forth with Kennedy and Toby. They're both great at resisting the feelings they have for the other. It felt real though. Sometimes things happen too quickly in books and it's unrealistic to me. This was not one of those times. I was completely invested in these characters. This book has its fair share of angst. There were a lot of ups and downs. I adored the characters, broken as they were. I enjoyed that the story kept me guessing. The dialogue was believable and well-written. I liked that it was primarily written from Toby's perspective. I found that refreshing. I liked the way Kennedy's chapters were written, as flashbacks. Her flashbacks complemented Toby's chapters very well and gave more insight into her past and her character, without directly writing chapters in her perspective. Lyla Payne has made a new fan with this novel and I look forward to more from her and this series. **I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. **
Luvmyhootie More than 1 year ago
Gut wrenching and emotional Wow. Lyla really lives up to her surname with this third installment in the Whitman U series. Not only is this one darker than the others it's deeper and more emotionally trying. I am still sitting here trying to figure out what to say about this book that made me feel so many things it's hard to recount it all. Addiction, dependency and trauma are just some of the issues the characters face down in this book.  Be My Downfall was absolutely breath taking and tragic. I knew it would be a tough read but I wasn't prepared for the absolute gut wrenching angst Payne brings to the table. Both main characters are facing issues with addiction in some way. Toby Wright, the campus golden boy has dealt with his brother's addiction to drugs by himself due to his father who is a state senator. Kennedy Gilbert suffered a tragic loss and has used alcohol and rough sex as a coping mechanism. Honestly at first I had no idea what could possibly draw these two characters together. They end up meeting while on a trip to Switzerland and are drawn to each other. Once Toby figures out what Kennedy does to herself he tries to help her almost to his own detriment. Toby was just amazing. He was sweet, kind, understanding and strong. Although I still haven't gotten to read the first book where Toby's character is introduced, I fell in love with him in this book. Because his father is a big political figure Toby has kept the issue with his brother a secret from people close to him so as not to draw unwanted attention to his family. I felt bad for him because he was really kind of lonely not being able to have someone to confide in. Losing his brother to drugs was a tough blow to his psyche because he believes it's his fault for not trying harder to save him. He feels as though he gets a second chance to help someone when he meets Kennedy and tries so hard to help her find her way out of her own darkness. He had his own issues to deal with on top of trying to finish school and staying out of trouble he really didn't have time or energy to help her but he did it anyway. He ends up going to great lengths to help this broken girl even facing down the demons of his past and putting his personal comfort and reputation on the line several times.  Kennedy broke me in two pieces by the time this book was over. She's not just damaged, she's shattered. I can't understand how I can love and hate her at the same time but I do. I hated that she needed rough sex to feel anything but numb, I hated how she was treated by someone who was supposed to love her and I hated how she wasn't strong enough to be happy. At the same time though I loved that she even attempted to be normal. I loved how she knew Toby wasn't like the other guys and I loved that she valued him enough to walk away so she didn't hurt him the way his brother did. Her circumstances are different in that she isn't addicted to drugs but her penchant for extremely rough sex and alcohol to feel anything makes her a ticking time bomb that nobody wants to deal with. Sure the guys enjoy what she has to offer but nobody knows how to deal with her so they keep their distance. Toby is the first one to show her a different way to live but she isn't ready to be happy and makes it clear to him it may never happen. I absolutely hated what she put Toby through. Even though he knew better I started to hate Kennedy after a while. I completely understood the reasons she did what she did and even had sympathy for her at times. She wasn't looking to fall in love but Toby wouldn't stay in any box she tries to put him in. Kennedy was one of those characters that can't help but ruin things, especially when they are going so well. She doesn't know how to handle it and naturally ends up back where she feels the most comfortable and that's what hurt me the most I think.  The supporting cast was made up of some familiar faces from the previous books. Emilie, Quinn, Ruby and Cole all play a part in the relationship between Toby and Kennedy in some way. I'm not familiar with the first two characters but Ruby and Cole were my favorite so it was nice to see them again. Ruby has a special connection to Kennedy being that these two kind of grew up together so it was nice to see Ruby step up and try to be there for her. Even if Kennedy didn't want the help. Be My Downfall was a bittersweet story that had some really rough moments but at the same time had some beautiful, healing, romantic moments as well. Watching Toby and Kennedy fight to overcome everything was wonderful to see after all they had been through. This isn't a happily ever after kind of story even though the book ended on a high note. I don't think with stories as realistic as this that deal with these kinds of topics you can seriously expect a HEA because it doesn't exist for broken people. As torn up as I was about the events leading up to the end and as heartbroken as I still am I have to say the author did a fantastic job wrapping the story up the way she did. This wasn't my favorite in the series by far but I think it's the most memorable and well thought out. The characters were flawed and broken, and the author brought to light serious subjects that affect everyone on a daily basis and I loved that about this book. This wasn't an easy read and will stick with you long after you are done so I recommend it only if you can handle gut wrenching emotion and characters who will break your heart.
allbookedout More than 1 year ago
I received an ARC for an honest review, and having not read any of the other books in the series.... .i thought i would be at a disadvantage, I wasn't! The Characters are so well described you fall into step easily with them, although i will go back and read the other books to get to know other characters that popped up in this book. I love broken characters, Kennedy was broken, ...a serious case of survivors guilt which she was self medicating and using Sex and Pain to deal, trying to feel something and not caring in any way the consequences of where she ever ended up.  Toby.....omg, he related to her something he was keeping secret because of his political family, he was also for the first time getting attacted to his 'Strawberry' (his nickname for Kennedy) and neither them or I the reader were prepared for the emotional consequences  of that..... I was up, down and thrown all around. It was freaking amazing!!!! I was cheering away with my Pom Poms, they were in pieces, left shredded on the floor, i cried, swooned, melted, cheered.... gritted my teeth and wanted for her and him to get it together and be......had to remake them, cheer again..... I was so glad, Kennedy doesn't kiss the boy and be fixed and all nicey nicey kissy isn't a quick go on a ride with this one and it is a a damn fine classy ride at that!!!!
kistew1085 More than 1 year ago
Oh Toby, Toby, Toby, Toby!! Be My Downfall is certainly my favorite book in the series. I was elated to really get to know Toby's character ever since the situation with Em in Broken at Love. Here is a little recap to emphasize the awesomeness of this book: Toby is indeed the typical "Golden Boy" that has the biggest heart known to mankind. Toby is so compassionate, selfless, and so loving even though he is hopelessly grieving on the inside. Toby was always cautious about his image and continuously strives to protect and build a commendable reputation that would suit the ideal perception of the son of a congressman. Toby was always careful with his lifestyle choices in hopes to avoid following in his brother Trent's footsteps. Trent's disappearance caused Toby to harbor severe remorse that triggered anxiety, which resulted in the hesitation to have close friends. Getting serious with a girl was no exception other than a night of rolling around in the sheets with a random frat girl, until Toby met Kennedy. Kennedy's lifestyle was so similar to Trent's which caused Toby to question the real source to his attraction. Little did Toby or Kennedy know that their unity would help them confront and overcome the true issues of their past instead of continuously being swept under the rug. The true feat is for Kennedy and Toby to realize that their undeniable connection is the final piece towards battling the past's demons and starting a new life together. "I want you. I do. But I don't know how to do this." "Don't give up. It's harder for you than most, I get it. I hate it, but I get it. All we can do is keep trying. I will If you will." "I'm not trying to rescue you, strawberry. I'm trying to love you." All I can say is if you pass up this read you are seriously missing out!
BeingCollins More than 1 year ago
Toby losing his brother to addiction is his families best kept secret, and the source of the guilt and pain he carries. Just when he's finally starting to be okay, Kennedy, WU's wild party girl, shows up in his life and reminds him too much of a past he'd rather not repeat. Their attraction mixed with his impulse to help her makes it hard to stay away, especially when they keep crossing paths, and he knows better than to get mixed up in a "lost cause." But his heart has other plans. Be My Downfall is an emotional ride that will make you laugh and then plunge you to the depths of despair and pain addiction can bring. It is a beautiful and heartbreaking story with a realness that goes well beyond the other books in the series. Toby is so much more than just a "good guy", and if you didn't like him in Broken at Love you're in for a pleasant surprise! (*If Ruby can forgive him, so can you!) Kennedy is more than just a "party girl", and the "why" will break your heart and leave you rooting for her. This book will not disappoint! Grab a tissue and prepare to read this book from cover to cover, because if you're anything like me you won't be able to put it down for even a second.
Elle2006 More than 1 year ago
I go to a lot of different writers for different things - honest characters, exciting premises, a believable and addicting series, steamy love scenes, thoughtful human issues or authentic conflict. But with Lyla Payne and her Whitman University series, I always get it all, and then some!  If for some reason you haven't read the other two books in the Whitman University series, you are really missing out. Go one click the rest, now, go – scoot! This series is tough, mature and sexy but at the same time very playful and irreverant. Warning though, it is insanely addicting. The second you finish one book you wish the next were already out. The characters are so real that sometimes I think Ms. Payne has taken them beyond three-dimensional to some kind of fourth dimension of character development. Everyone in her books, whether a main or secondary character, is layered and deliciously imperfect. Each book in her phenomenal Whitman University series is lovely, but this one really gets under your skin. It stuck with me and challenged me. It is not for the faint of heart, and that’s a good thing. Toby is a closed-off golden boy hottie plagued by secrets and guilt, while Kennedy is, well she is just a smoking hot mess that you can’t help but like. Together, their connection is intense and their chemistry is combustible.  This book is intense. You know you are hurtling toward a world of hurt but you encourage Toby and are with him and Kennedy the whole way. You breathe this life experience right along with him. He is a fabulous hero and grows so much. He is so visceral, funny, charming and real and he takes the reader to an ending that is just plain beautiful.  This installment is edgier than the rest of the series. Its not “angsty” just for the sake of being so (like a lot of NA books out there), it is just emotional, challenging and true. It is more like the intense book one (broken at love) than the more playful book two (by referral only). A major piece of this book that I loved is the sophisticated and unique use of point of view. The majority of the book is 1st person from our hero with highly objective snippets giving us a glimpse of our tortured heroine and her motivations. So often in romance an innocent girl is chasing after the angry tortured man, and this totally turns it on its head, challenging the reader while it challenges our hero. The book is so evocative and poignant that at times I had to put it down and take a moment before diving back in. The pacing and relationship development is so realistic, Ms. Payne almost makes it look too easy. It is so authentic that it often felt realistic to the point of voyeurism. I felt like Toby at times, then like I was his friend, knowing I would give him advice to protect his heart while simultaneously rooting these two crazy kids on. Its an emotional roller coaster in the best possible way. My only wish/greedy request would be for a longer epilogue (ideally a scene or two back at school. They will face a lot when school starts again and I would love to see how they handle it and other people). The book is so intense I think my racing heart needed a little more of a slow burn on the comedown, but that is like saying a Dove bar can be improved by being 10% bigger! Besides, a great feature of this series is that everyone's stories are so beautifully interwoven that each book plays on the characters from prior and future books. This series doesn't just give lip service to a prior couple, they are a part of the action and aid in the growth and development of the other characters - you know, like in real life! So hopefully we will see more of Toby and Kennedy in the future. (Speaking of all the great characters, someone needs to make this book a mini series or something, stat ¿) Enjoy!