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Very Bad Things (Briarcrest Academy #1)

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  11,220 Ratings  ·  1,166 Reviews
Born into a life of privilege and secrets, Nora Blakely has everything any nineteen-year-old girl could desire. She’s an accomplished pianist, a Texas beauty queen, and on her way to Princeton after high school. She’s perfect...

Leaving behind her million-dollar mansion and Jimmy Choos, she becomes a girl hell-bent on pushing the limits with alcohol, drugs, and meaningless
Paperback, 389 pages
Published September 9th 2013 by Little Dove Publishing (first published September 7th 2013)
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Hers by Dawn  RobertsonVery Bad Things by Ilsa Madden-MillsConjuring Darkness by Melanie  JamesWhere I Need to Be by Kimberly KnightPrivate Message by Danielle Torella
Best Adult Indie Book Covers
2nd out of 645 books — 1,338 voters
Never Too Far by Abbi GlinesWethering the Storm by Samantha TowleThe Game Changer by J. SterlingEyes Wide Open by Raine MillerConsumed by Emily Snow
Highly Anticipated Indie Books of 2013
122nd out of 1,455 books — 6,905 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Alexis *Reality Bites*
SPOILER FREE REVIEW -mature content reader discretion is advised.
5 STARS out of 5
Genre: New Adult Romance

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It is not often you come across an author whose writing has the ability to captivate your mind and infiltrate your heart with beautiful well developed characters such as Nora Blakely.

She’s a beauty queen.
She’s super intelligent.
She’s super rich.
She is an accomplished pianist.
She's little Ms. Perfect. she?
When Nora decides her perfect to the outside world yet secretly flawed and p
Ilsa Madden-Mills
From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills

Amazon Top 10 Bestseller

"One of the top five New Adult romances of 2013." --A is for Alpha, B is for Book Blog

What happens when the perfect girl makes a very bad list?

Born into a life of privilege and secrets, Nora Blakely has everything any nineteen-year-old girl could desire. She's an accomplished pianist, a Texas beauty queen, and on her way to Princeton after high school. She's perfect.
Or is she?

Leaving behind her millio
Sep 15, 2013 Catarina rated it liked it
3 Bad Girl Stars!!

Unfortunately, after all the good things I read about this, it was just “meh” for me.


On the outside Nora is the perfect girl. Pressured by her mother she is popular, belongs to every club in her prestigious academy and has perfect grades, perfect style, and perfect behavior.
But after something that happened to her on the past, she feels ugly inside and she is done with being the perfect girl. Now, she’s going to be herself. Except she doesn't know who the real her is and so s
Duchess Nicole
More like 2.5 stars...

Okay, I'm going to start off by's you guys (and the author) don't hate me. The most vast majority of my friends, and indeed, all of Goodreads, five starred this book. Not only that, but there was a nice mix of my friends who have extremely varying tastes who really loved this book. So I was ever so hopeful, and quite possibly set the bar too high before I ever even started. I'm just jotting down my thoughts now, and take this opinion for what it's
Akanksha❤ Søren♰
I wanted to laugh at this book.

All I saw in this book was that the chick NORA is a wannabe.. She wants to become a self proclaimed party animal.. [New Miley Cyrus]

She wants to have A LOT of sex, do drugs, and always be drunk.

THIS book has no emotions, No story-story as such. I see NO base plot.

(view spoiler)
Lady Vigilante (Feifei)
2 stars!


^because Leo’s “stupid on a stick.”

Anyways, this book was truly a disappointment. What started out as a promising 4 or 5 star read gradually dwindled down to the point where I loathed the main characters (especially the hero) and just wanted the book to be OVER with.

I’m going to start off positive and say that the first 25% was awesome – love Nora’s defiance, was intrigued by Leo’s feigned indifference, and adored the secondary characters, especially Leo’s younger brother Sebastian. The
Sep 12, 2013 Lili rated it liked it
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I'm conflicted on how to rate this one. After thinking about it more feels like 2.5 stars and going by how I felt and the Goodreads rating system I will round up to the 3 stars meaning:

3 stars - it means 'it really was ok, not very good, but I don't want to say mostly bad, either'.

This is one of the few times in which the Hero, Leo, was more annoying than the Heroine,Nora. Yes, she had issues and she did some dumb shit - but you know what that's part of growing up and self discovery. I found mys
Aestas Book Blog
Sep 13, 2013 Aestas Book Blog rated it liked it

Hmmmmmmm... 3.5 stars (don't hate me!!)

I read this one because of all the glowing recommendations I'd received for it. So many readers are absolutely loving this book at the moment and I can certainly see why. It has a lot of the "check marks" for me too -- swoony, tattooed hero, a slightly angsty, almost forbidden (ish) tension/attraction between the hero and heroine, and it's a standalone so you can read the whole story in one sitting. But... it didn't fully float my boat because there were j
♥~♥Geri ~ the Racy Lit Reader ♥~♥
2.5 stars

This was me before I started the book.

After a couple of chapters, I was feeling like this...

And then...

Yeah. This book had a lot of promise but sadly, it didn't deliver. The plot had a lot of promise. A troubled young girl meets a hot, albeit older guy (he's 25 and she's 18 and still in high school), they have that connection and undeniable attraction. It's kismet, right?

Don't get me wrong, there are things that I really liked. But somehow the things I didn't like just overwhelmed
Farah *Professor Dean's Beauty*
"Some would say love at first sight is ridiculous, and perhaps love never happens for those people at all. I kept thinking about what Sebastian had said: that when it was real then you know it. I looked at Leo, sitting there around his friends and family and knew the truth. I loved him. Forever. Was it surprising that as I was searching for myself, I’d also found love? Yeah. Fate, destiny, karma, kismet, God, crazy coincidences, or whatever you wanted to call it, had written in the stars that I ...more
"...You can't let the shame of your past affect your future."

I found this book to be a pleasant surprise, and so much more than just a romance story. In fact, the main characters; Nora Blakely, and Leo Tate did that pull and push thing that we all hate so much, and for the majority of the book they were not together. My higher rating comes from the fact that I really enjoyed the writing, and I thoroughly enjoyed a lot of the secondary characters and the relationships that everyone had with one a
Nov 16, 2014 Patrycja rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, 2013

Very Bad Things by Ilsa Madden Mills is so freakin’ bad, I want to be naughty girl myslef!

Roller coaster ride full of twist and turns, Very Bad Things is suspenful, full of action, intense and passionate read that can be finished in one sitting, while biting your nails, laughing hard, wiping tears and fighting with lady boner.

Step by step, page by page I slowly fell in love with this complex bittersweet story about finding yourself, finding closure, love and finally happiness.

This story follows
 ♥  Barb ♥
Sep 15, 2013 ♥ Barb ♥ rated it really liked it
"Bad decisions can make some damn good memories."

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"I NEVER met a girl I couldn't say GOODBYE to".... that is until Nora walked into my life.
This is the story about 25 yr old gorgeous business owner, Leo and 19 yr old sweet, broken Nora. Leo doesn't do girlfriends, flowers, relationships EVER, he has been busy raising his younger brother Sebastian (view spoiler) for the past 8 years. Nora? My heart went out to this girl. Her family life was crazy, seriousl
✝✝ Ⓓaisy ❣ Hearts Cole, Lucas, Jesse  & James ✝✝

This book so didn't work for me, sadly!

Nora is American princess with rich parents, lives in mansion, smart, beauty queen and yet has a past that she tries to hide from. On top of that, her parents for busy with their lifestyle. And she meets her knight, Leo Tate. Leo Tate, on the other hand, has commitment issues as he lost his parents at a young age and lives for his younger brother, his band and to keep his dad's gym dream alive. Music connected them both.

Their UST is delicious in the beginni
Jennifer Kyle
Sep 12, 2013 Jennifer Kyle rated it liked it
3 Bad Girl Stars


Well there’s angst and then there’s waiting a whole book for the guy to get his head out of his ass. I mean I get his issues with hiding from true love when it hit him right in the face. Their age differences and the loss of his parents, but ugh I was frustrated pretty much till the last chapter. Thus my lower end rating.

Nora Blakely was a great main character! She is a senior in high school with a famous mother (BITCH) who expects her daughter to maintain her perfect imagine. No
J *I did it all for the nookie.The book nookie*
4.5--Very Good--Stars!!

I had no idea this story took place in Dallas--my hometown! So it was fun to read about some of the places and things I was familiar with.

The story begins with Norah giving a big 'ole Fuck You to the upcoming Senior class of Briarcrest Academy. Norah has always tried to be perfect. Get the perfect grades, wear the perfect clothes, act a perfect way.....all to please her mother.

Norah and Leo meet that day....he's parked in the car next to hers where Norah is waiting for t
Toski Covey

Doesn't that title reel you in? I mean, what do you consider Very Bad ? Making lists of your deepest darkest desires? Being promiscuous? Chasing the older Very bad boy? Well, what if you are acting as though you are Very Bad when in reality.. you are living a Very Bad "fake" life..

Nora Blakey is living a life of luxury.. She has it all.. Money, perfect looks, perfect grades, perfect home.. Or so it appears to the outside world.

Leo Tate is a bad boy who is raising his brother aft
Missy Johnson
Aug 25, 2013 Missy Johnson rated it it was amazing
You know when you get near the end of a book and you slow down your reading because as much as you want to find out what happens you don't want it to end?

Or maybe that's just me...either way, that's how this book had me feeling.

I loved everything about this book. I'd been aching to read it since Ilsa announced it's upcoming release at the start of the year, so naturally I had really, really high expectations. I'm happy to say VBT exceeded them all.

I fell in love with Leo and Nora, and even Seba
Jess-i-ca ~Sometimes a Gif Witch~
Was this book good? Yes but I almost feel like there was too much going on....It was every possible NA storyline all thrown together....

Where to start...Lets go through our list of characters....

So you have our heroine, Nora, child genius, music prodigy, spelling bee champ, debate club, yearbook staff, etc etc. etc, overachiever b/c of her mom who used to be fat and ugly who decides she has had enough and is going to rebel and dye her hair, wear slutty clothes, get drunk, tattoos, piercings, and
Sep 12, 2013 Brandi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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I am not sure how I feel about this one. First off I had some seriously high expectations, and I am a bit disappointed. I hate when I do that, it almost seems unfair to the story - because maybe I would have felt different if I had not been expecting so much. The writing was good and there were times when I was really interested in where the story was going... But there was so much going on and it all seemed skimmed over. I needed more depth or something. I just don't know.
Bookhooking (Tanya Childress)
FIVE+++++++++FANTASTIC FUCKING STARS!!! Let me start this one by saying I have a huge girl crush on the main character, Nora! I loved her so much! What a beautiful, intelligent young woman that my heart broke for because underneath it all she was hurting and just wanted to be loved. Might I also mention she is rich too, but money can't buy happiness and that cannot be more true when you read a book like Very Bad Things.

Happiness. I believed few people ever achieved it.

Nora is in her last year of
Sep 13, 2013 Paula rated it really liked it

“She’s this beautiful chaos.” – Leo Tate

Nora Blakely is eighteen and in her last year of high school at Briarcrest Academy. She’s tired of living her perfect manufactured life. She’s tired of keeping her secrets. She’s tired of her tyrant of a mother dictating her life, expecting her to be flawless, the best, exemplary at everything she does. Her mother has failed miserably at being a mother. So, instead of giving a perfect little speech to everyone on registration day, her defiance flairs an
Wendy Darling
3.5 stars You have to give it points for being so readable. And hot.

Things I liked:

-- strong, vulnerable heroine who is unapologetically secure in her femininity, sexual power, and identity
-- engaging narrative voice
-- humor
-- extremely flammable sexual tension
-- memorable characters
-- story that isn't just about the romance, but is also about college, pressure to perform, future plans, parental relationships, and side friendships as well
-- drugs and alcohol included in a way that didn't feel e
To the outside world Nora Blakely appears to have a perfect life. She’s smart, pretty, rich and put together... but all that is just what’s on the outside. The perfect appearance is just a way to hide the secrets. But when pressed to put on her fake smile and give the audience what they expect, Nora can’t find the words... so instead she tells them all to fuck off. Nora isn’t going to be perfect. She is tired of being good. For one moment she felt numb and she wants to feel that again and again. ...more
Sep 09, 2013 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another Fave of 2013

I've been totally drawn to this story since the day I watched the trailer, and the freaking gorgeous cover also had me gaga for this book. So, once I finally had it at my wee little fingertips, I DEVOURED it. I could not stop reading, I needed to satiate my hunger for all things Nora Blakely....and Leo Tate too!

Nora, Nora, Nora!!! Girl you've gone and rocked my world. I've never hoped for a character to come out on top, as I did Nora. She's the epitome of perfection, beauty
Aug 27, 2013 Kirsty rated it really liked it
I really loved the majority of this book but towards the end I started to get a little lost and my connection with the characters started to dwindle. That being said though, the first 80% or so was brilliant and I loved it.

Nora Blakely was an interesting character to me. After reading the blurb, I thought there was absolutely no way in hell I was going to be able to relate to her. She's a spoiled rich girl, attending private school who probably thinks the world owes her everything. I could not h
“If love is the answer, then I’m changing the question.” ~ Leo Tate

Nora; daughter to rich and successful parents, school prodigy, spelling bee queen, accomplished pianist, a Texas beauty queen, designer clad beauty, she's the perfect 18 year old... on the outside... inside; she's begging for release, to be who she wants, fed up of succumbing to perfection, she's wants to be bad, she wants to live and rebel and to be who she wants and not what is expected.

Leo is there to witness Nora's fall fro
Jul 05, 2015 Kara rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kara by: Nicole
"SOMETIMES, YOU JUST need a badass theme song to get you through the day."

...cause we all know this is so f'n true!
REVIEWER: Michelle S. Palmer

Category: New Adult/Contemporary Romance
Pages 351

This is part of a series, but does have a HEA.

Cover Art by Toski Covey Photography

First in the Briarcrest Academy Series

Definitely not another cookie cutter, bad boy book.

If you enjoyed Hopeless or Sea of Tranquility,you will love this sweet yet compelling love story about a girl who finds herself and a guy who learns to believe in soulmates.

Nora opens the book by doing a shocking thing at her prestigious Dallas scho
Sep 11, 2013 Jennifer☠Pher☠ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer☠Pher☠ by: Miss Construed's Reviews
Well, that certainly broke my NA slump. Very well written page turner. Honestly, when I realized this was still HIGHSCHOOL I thought oh no, this is not going to be the book for me but I was very wrong. I just adored Nora. Poor Nora. What an amazing character. Brilliant, beautiful and oh so broken. She sets out on a path that she deeply believes will bring her peace but learns so much along the way and her path changes, she changes and she does heal. I love a love at first sight story, a story ab ...more
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Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today best selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap.

She's addicted to all things fantasy, including unicorns and sword-wielding females. Other fascinations include frothy coffee beverages, dark chocolate, Instagram, Ian Somerhalder (seriously hot), astronomy (she's a Gemini),
More about Ilsa Madden-Mills...

Other Books in the Series

Briarcrest Academy (3 books)
  • Very Wicked Things (Briarcrest Academy, #2)
  • Very Twisted Things (Briarcrest Academy, #3)

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“Behind every beautiful thing is a world of pain.” 48 likes
“He was my Prince Charming, but I wasn't his Cinderella.” 44 likes
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