The Cover: I like the design and the color scheme; it goes well with the other covers as a novella. Davis looks gorgeous, of course, bearing a slight resemblance to a brunette Jennifer Aniston. I like how we can see only one of her eyes and neither of Seth’s eyes; it’s very mysterious. What I’m not sure about is Davis’s outfit. Her sheer sweater is pretty, but it’s got a lingerie vibe to it. What is she wearing underneath? Is it a nude bra or tank top? Or is that her bare breast conspicuously out on display? Once you see it, that’s what you see each time you look at the cover. But it does add some sex appeal, appropriately setting the stage for the brief romance to come.
Back Blurb: Davis Morrow has always been a little bit afraid to fall in love, to lose her focus, to be anything other than perfect. But while relaxing in an elite spa after another grueling rehearsal for a ballet showcase, Davis meets Seth, a trainer with intense eyes and a chiseled face to match his athletic build…and everything changes.
Unlike the other guys she’s dated, Seth seems to get her–-he understands how difficult her routine is, how hard she must work. Their first kiss leaves her mind spinning like an endless pirouette. Dating trainers is forbidden–-but, like her best friend Vera insists, forbidden love is the best kind.
Then a threatening message from her dance rival, Gabrielle, brings her world tumbling down. Will Seth be the secret she needs to succeed, heart open for the first time? Or will this heated romance become her greatest rival yet?
The Book: The premise of Rival is pretty simple: Davis falls for someone she shouldn’t, lets her guard down, and gets burned. Luckily, she learns a few valuable lessons and has a happy ending. Overall, I think this novella is OK. The story by itself is enjoyable, but it has almost nothing to do with Feuds. It introduces new characters that will never be heard from again. There’s some brief references to the politics between the Priors and Imps, but the story’s main purpose seems to be character building. Unfortunately, a lot of it contradicts the Davis we’ve already gotten to know.
Davis: We know that Davis is wealthy but not flashy. She supposedly feels guilty for spending her father’s hard-earned money, but then doesn’t think twice about trashing the Apex’s spa room. Maybe it was just an immature and impulsive decision, but it didn’t do much to support her “poor little rich girl” persona. Davis also mentions a few times that her dad doesn’t have a lot of time for her and Fia, but in Feuds she says her dad prioritizes his daughters above all else, even his work.
The one aspect of Davis’s life Rival does hit spot-on is the long-lasting effects of her mother’s death. It’s something Davis has come to accept, but not something she’ll ever completely heal from. It’s especially difficult because of her mother’s dance legacy and the glaring absence of a hovering dance mom. Everyone expects her to follow in her mother’s footsteps even though Davis never knew her. Sometimes she just wants to be Davis, not her mother.
Vera: Vera is by far the most fun character in this story. She really gets her chance to shine. She’s serious about her music studies, like Davis is with ballet, but she doesn’t let her cello playing define her. Vera knows how to let loose and enjoy life. She’s that one friend who’s always encouraging you to take risks, to try something new, to live in the moment and without regrets. Vivacious and fun-loving, she’s the perfect partner-in-crime. Davis is more timid, trying to take cues from Vera on how to flirt and fake confidence. The two balance each other perfectly with their different personalities. They have the type of bestie relationship every girl dreams of.
What’s Next: Feuds left us on a cliffhanger with many questions to be answered. Rival briefly touched on something–-the twisted ankle–- that may be related to the shocking secret Davis discovered in the hospital. Will this be answered in Torn? That revelation was so juicy, I can’t wait to find out the truth. Other than that, Rival doesn’t really give us any hints as to what’s yet to come.
Rival is available for purchase on iTunes or you can read for free on Paper Lantern Lit’s website. Also, check out Avery Hastings’s page on Paper Lantern Lit for more information on Avery and the Feuds series.
What did you think of Rival? Sound off in the comments below!