The Temptation of Lila and Ethan by Jessica Sorensen
Series: The Secret #3
Publisher: Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
Release Date: October 22, 2013
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On the surface, Lila Summers is flawless: good looks, expensive clothes, and a big, beautiful smile. But a dark past and even darker secrets are threatening to bubble over her perfect façade. She'll do anything to keep the emptiness inside hidden-which leads her into situations that always end badly. Whenever she hits bottom, there's only one person who's there to pull her out: Ethan Gregory.
Ethan set the rules a long time ago: he and Lila are just friends. He doesn't do relationships. Although his tattooed, bad boy exterior is a far cry from Lila's pretty princess image, Ethan can't deny they have a deeper connection than he's used to. If he's not careful, he could be in serious danger of becoming attached-and he's learned the hard way that attachment only leads to heartbreak.
When Lila falls farther than she ever has before, can Ethan continue to help as a friend? Or is he also getting close to falling . . . for her?
This is the third book in The Secret series. It seems to be a huge trend right now in the New Adult genre to have companion novels about secondary characters from the first book. I find this trend hit and miss, and The Temptation of Lila and Ethan is somewhere in the middle for me.
The best written parts of the book was a tie between when Ethan and Lila were not together yet (talk about tension) and when Ethan is struggling to get Lila clean after years of drug abuse. The Lila is this book is not the Lila of past books. When you first meet Lila in The Secret of Ella and Micha she is flirtatious and bubbly, but here you see what’s behind her drug fused façade. I wasn’t prepared for how dark Lila got so quickly, but it still worked for me.
Lila has been told she is unwanted and unloved her whole life. Her mother raised her to put beauty and materialistic things first before anything else, even her own daughter’s trauma. It was best never to cause a scene or embarrass the family.
“Lila you’ll never make it. Lila, you’re worthless. Lila, you’re messing up this family. No one will ever love you if you don’t change into something they can love. Be perfect. Be beautiful. Because no one will want you if you’re not.”
Lila really did struggle to overcome her problems. When Ethan finally wakes up and sees that her drug use is more than just a recreational and decides to help her, those pages were so real. You felt Lila’s urges to just have one more pill and what she was going through with her withdrawals. Ethan was petrified of screwing up Lila’s chance at sobriety, but didn’t shy away from it.
“It hurts like a knife slashing into my skin, deep, violent thrashes, but I know enough to know that she’s desperate right now and will say anything to get me to leave.”
Parts of the book I really did like (drug use, Lila’s recovery, etc.), but others just seemed slightly bland (like the romance). It’s not that Lila and Ethan weren’t suitable for each other, because I think Ethan was fantastic for her, but something was missing in the story for me. The one consistent part that I did like in this book was Ethan. He was dealing with his own guilt and past, but pushed his problems aside to help Lila. Throughout her recovery he was panicked and afraid he was going to mess her up. He’s the type of character that I have been waiting for in New Adult. Ethan said everything I have wanted to see in a book about young girls that have been abused before. No means no! I feel like New Adult goes through this issue a lot, but no one ever says that it’s not okay for a guy to do that to you. And I was so happy to see that there was finally a book where the guy verbalized that it’s just not okay.
“Would you stop thinking about yourself like that? So you screwed some guys. So fucking what? People have sex and that doesn’t make you a slut. And it sure as hell doesn’t give rich douche bags an excuse to rape you or make you do anything you don’t want to do.”
“Don’t ever say that again. If a girl says no even once then a guy should stop. Hell, if she shows a single sign of not wanting it, the guy should stop. You should never, ever have to have sex with a guy when you don’t want to.”
I don’t know if Lila really did get over her past (which is pretty awful FYI). It seemed liked she was hiding and hiding her past from Ethan and then she magically moved past it after she told him about it. But maybe that’s what she needed to move on with her life? And the ending was a bit ambiguous for me. I know it’s because it was opening up for the next book, but I don’t really feel like it was necessary. It would have been a perfect ending with the wedding and all four of them on the cliff. I just feel like authors, especially in this genre, drag out series with companion novels upon companion novels, and I just can’t help read them even if they aren’t bringing anything new to the story.
“I can only imagine how broad my smile is at this moment because I’ve never had this—protection. I’ve never had someone in my life who would stand up for me and tell me that it was okay, that people make mistakes and it doesn’t mean you have to suffer eternally for them.”