Thank you for stopping by our stop on the By Referral Only blog tour, hosted by INK SLINGER PR. Enjoy Hootie's review of the book and don't forget to enter the giveaway below!
Genre: New Adult Contemporary romance
Series: Whitman University #2
Publication Date: July 1st 2013
Author: Lyla Payne
Format: eARC provided for tour
After being unceremoniously dumped freshman year because of her family’s “new money” status, Ruby Cotton has taken care not to put her heart on the line. No matter how enticing Emilie and Quinn make it look, relationships are scary and hard—while a string of flings is easy and fun. That’s what Ruby wants. Easy and fun. The only problem is, when it comes to satisfaction in the sack, most of the boys at Whitman are nothing but pretty window dressing and false advertising. Ruby takes it upon herself to make campus life more fulfilling, creating a referral database that allows female students to rate their sexual experiences, thereby informing girls of what they’re getting into before agreeing to a date. When her acting partner, Liam Greene, finally shows some interest, Ruby figures she won’t need to utilize the helpful gossip. He’s handsome, fun, and most importantly, not a guy she’d ever fall for hard enough to let him break her heart. Not only that, but dating Liam gives Ruby the perfect excuse to say no to Cole Stuart. As a star swimmer and heir to honest-to-God Scottish royalty, Cole sits at the top of Whitman’s A-list—but he’s also the lowest rated referral on Ruby’s website. The ratings make rejecting his repeated requests for a date a no-brainer, but her real reason for avoiding Cole runs deeper than a string of unsatisfied exes. He’s gorgeous, he oozes sweetness and charm, and the electricity between them could power half of Whitman, but Ruby knows it will only last until his family or friends convince him she’s not good enough. Before she knows it she’s falling anyway, waiting for the other shoe to drop but clinging to a tentative hope that Cole might be as different as he seems. When the secret behind his low ratings comes to light, that hope is torn apart, and Ruby wonders if she was right to give him her heart…and whether she has the strength to let him keep it.
As per my usual I started reading this book before I read the first. I always manage to start a series at the second book but with this one I totally didn't mind because I got so unexpectedly attached to these characters I can't imagine not reading them first. Lyla Payne delivered a sweet, intensely sexy and hilarious story in By Referral Only that not only caught me by surprise but left me a little misty eyed.
Ruby Cotton comes from new money as people who have been wealthy most of their lives refer to it as. Her father hit it big with a software program when she was a young girl and ever since then she has felt out of place having grown up in the swamps of New Orleans. After being hurt by her ex not thinking she fit into his world because of her new money status she used that hurt as a kind of shield to protect herself from pain. I thoroughly enjoyed ruby's character. She was spunky and sarcastic and absolutely hilarious! I was not expecting to laugh as much as I did in this book and it's always a major plus in an author's column to make me laugh. After hearing a fellow sorority sister bitching about a bad date with the hot Irish swim star Cole Stuart, Ruby decides to start a website that rates guys on their performance in the sack. Or in Cole's case the lack of skill in that area. When Ruby first meets Cole face to face they have an instant, undeniable chemistry but due to Ruby's feelings about being hurt again and Cole's rep as a bad lover she tries to stay away from him. She does so by hooking up with a fellow actor in one of her plays and discovers he is terrible in the sack but continues seeing him in a move to stay away from Cole. He doesn't make it easy on her when he is always around, whether in class or sending her flowers or a shared first kiss during an acting exercise that levels both of their will power.
I have to say that Cole Stuart has stolen the top spot for my current book boyfriend that has been held for months by another great guy. Cole was so amazing as a character and not only his affection for Ruby but the way he carried himself. He wasn't a cocky douche bag alpha and he wasn't a wet noodle. He walked the very fine, very hard to capture, line between Alpha and Too nice. I have to give Lyla kudos for writing such an amazing guy. Cole faced down a humiliating reputation when Ruby posted his scores on her website and instead of being an A'hole about it, he got to know her, and slowly broke down her defenses and showed her he wasn't what she assumed he was. Watching him with Ruby made me swoon and laugh because their relationship once given a chance by Ruby was effortless. It came across as so genuine and I fell head over feet for these two. Cole wasn't the kind of guy to just jump into the sack with a girl because he has a past secret that has hindered him from taking that step with anyone. Until Ruby came along he was content to just abstain but with her being such a beautiful spitfire he couldn't resist for long. Their chemistry pre-sex was hot but when they finally gave into their feelings they not only scorched the pages, they melted my bloomers a time or two. Who doesn't love sex in a hospital?
Sometimes with stories like this the love becomes almost too good to be true, but with this book it felt like the couple faced down real issues and obstacles. Ruby had to overcome her inner feelings about her parents wealth that caused her to hold back in her relationship with Cole and he had a horrible set of circumstances that happened to him as a younger boy that made him feel less than worthy of Ruby. They both had moments where they got in their own ways in the love department and who hasn't had that happen to them? That's where the book felt truly human to me and solidified my love for this couple and this book. Between all the hot sex and hilarious quips constantly thrown out by Ruby, this couple had some really amazing, really romantic and beautiful moments that had me saying "Aww" a lot! I was beyond happy with how the story turned out between this couple and the epilogue left me a little VERKLEMPT! (see Mike Meyers via SNL for definition)
Although this book was a part of a series there was enough information given about the first books MC Emilie, who is Ruby's best friend. I love their relationship in this book and even though I know how things worked out for Emilie it won't stop me from going back and reading her story just to experience it for myself. The other supporting characters being Cole's twin brothers and his younger sister added more humor to the story and brought some clarity to Cole's personality and character. I loved the relationship Ruby formed with each sibling and even his parents make a small appearance and put Ruby at ease even more about herself than she had previously come to understand. By Referral Only was more than I expected and everything I love in a sexy romance. The humor will crack you up and leave you breathless and the steamy sexiness that is Cole will melt your heart as well as your drawers! If the first book is even a tenth as funny, witty, sexy and romantic as this one then I can't recommend this series ENOUGH!
It was easier to make fun of myself than wait for everyone else to do it first. ~ Ruby eARC 19%
We laughed and wrestled for a while and then he kissed me for several minutes. The anxiety from our conversation eased, slinking back to wherever shit like that came from. Probably back into my ovaries. ~ Ruby eARC 32%
"I'm saying what I want to say. Because I want you to hear it, and I think you're worth the scrapes from your thorns. Fuck your website." ~ Cole eARC 39%
"I think, Ruby Cotton, that you should expect everything from any man who spends time with you with romantic intentions. A man who will please you and be proud of you." ~ Cole eARC 60%
The idea of walking through the next year and a half at Whitman without him made me ill, and the idea of moving to New York and falling in love with someone else made me want to puke. ~ Ruby eARC 89%
About The Author:
I’ve long had a love of stories. A few years ago decided to put them down on the page, and even though I have a degree in film and television, novels were the creative outlet where I found a home. I’ve published Young Adult under a different name, but when I got the idea for Broken at Love (my first New Adult title), I couldn’t wait to try something new – and I’m hooked. In my spare time I watch a ton of tennis (no surprise, there), play a ton of tennis, and dedicate a good portion of brain power to dreaming up the next fictitious bad boy we’d all love to meet in real life.
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