Evil Love: A Bully Romance by Ella Fields

Is it read-worth? Welcome the new member of my DNF list. Evil Love is absolutely not worth reading. The relationship at the heart of the book is toxic and, while I could have forgiven that and even enjoyed it, the writing is just terrible. It comes across more as poorly written teenage smut than anything else. Everything I read was overly sexualized and deeply disturbing. And, based on the reviews I read after not finishing it, it just gets worse from there. How anyone can think this book is romantic or sexy is beyond me. 

Back of Book Summary (Amazon.com)

Bestselling author Ella Fields delivers an all-new standalone enemies to lovers, bully romance.

There was a time Jude Delouxe didn’t hate me, and I’m fairly certain it was when he didn’t know I existed.

Senior year, I finally caught his eye long enough to throw word vomit at him like the obsessed teenage girl I was.

That was then.

You see, the most wanted guy in school blamed me for losing his second chance with his girlfriend. Ex-girlfriend? Whatever. Point is, the Adonis loved to hate me.

It wasn’t my fault he’d followed me. It wasn’t my fault he’d stared too long and stood a little too close, just daring me to accomplish my wildest dreams.

And it most certainly wasn’t my fault his ex-girlfriend arrived when he’d decided to kiss me back.

Then the cruelty began.

I’d thought I could handle it, so long as his lips kept gracing mine and he kept giving me more scorching firsts. Until he took it too far, and all his carefully kept secrets blew open the doors to a brand-new world. A world he was all too familiar with.

Obsession became loathing and fear replaced naivety as Jude was forced to hold my hand and help me navigate a secret society rife with sin and debauchery—the crème de la crème of Peridot Island.

If I wasn’t careful, I’d do more than lose what remained of my heart. My first love and greatest foe wouldn’t be satisfied until he’d devoured my soul, too.

First off, what is bully romance?

Bully Romance is apparently the follow-up to an ongoing saga of dark romance novels. In the past, dark romance novels were books where the “hero” of the story was a bad guy. He’s unpleasant to deal with, but also extremely attractive. Trust me, he’s always hot. He would treat the heroine (usually a nerdy girl who doesn’t know how good looking she is) horribly for most of the book. But, in the end, he’d always be redeemed when he inevitably realizes that the heroine is beautiful and falls in love with her. Not always good, but sometimes they’re great reads.

A lot of girls absolutely love dark romance books. It’s appealing to think that the snarky sexy guy who treats you poorly will end up being a good guy. He’ll love you and treat you great. A lot of us have guys we’d probably love to make a little bit nicer! Or a lot of bit, as the case may be. Even the worst, meanest guys can be sweet and tender towards the ones they love. They have redeemable qualities that books like this capitalize on. Vampire Diaries anyone?

Bully romance takes dark romance one step further into an even darker, more toxic place. The heroine still falls for a hero who is still a very bad guy, but there’s usually no redeemable qualities to him. He doesn’t have some hidden trait that saves him from being a jerk all the time. He doesn’t always start to treat her better. He’s usually just a bad guy that the heroine, for some reason, can’t help but love. 

Going into this book, I had absolutely no idea that the genre of “bully romance” existed. I thought it was just a tacky side note meant to catch potential reader’s attention. I didn’t understand the full implications of the genre or the toxic side story to it. It’s an extremely abusive genre that promotes the degradation of women, particularly teenage girls. At its core, unhealthy.

And it is even worse that most of these books are apparently marketed to teenage girls specifically. Once I did a little bit of research about them and looked at other books in this genre, I found that most take place in high schools. The bully and the girl usually go to school together. He treats her terribly and she loves him anyways. Their relationship is marketed as romantic and sexy instead of disturbing. How horrible is that to sell to a teenager? What are we telling them to look for in a relationship?

Oh, boy, I hope people don’t read this genre, let alone this book. It’s disgusting. 

Because (1) bully romances do not work in real life. If someone treats you poorly, you should not take that as a sign to start a relationship with them. Romanticizing abusive behaviors is part of the reason why women (and men) end up in abusive relationships. They aren’t cute. They aren’t romantic. They aren’t even remotely okay. Stop telling young girls that they are! 

I mean, I thought that Twilight was bad. This is just a whole new level of horrible. 

And this is coming from someone who loves a well-written anti-hero. I love heroes with bad traits. They feel more real to me. But some bad guys are just bad guys. That’s all they are. We shouldn’t romanticize their immoral behavior. We should romanticize their redeemable qualities and path to redemption, not their debauchery and cruelty towards others.

And (2) Evil Love just isn’t good. Everything is overly sexualized, especially for a teenage reader. From the way the characters think to how they talk, it’s just deeply disturbing. What they actually do? Too much information and feels more like pornography than a book marketed to teenagers should. There is a way to write sex scenes in young adult novels that come across as more than poorly placed porn.

Based on what I’ve seen from other books in this category, this catastrophe of a book is the standard and not the exception. These books are not profound, well-written pieces about strong heroines who fall in love with the wrong guy. They’re books that sexualize teenage girls and encourage young women to degrade themselves in return for the affection of an abusive man. I cannot emphasize enough how disgusting some of those scenes I read were. Do not read this book. Do not let your kids read this book. Throw it away.