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Bad Cruz

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I would say Dr. Cruz Costello is my archenemy.
But that would require acknowledging one another, which we haven’t done in over a decade.

He’s the town’s golden child. The beloved quarterback-turned-physician.
I’m the girl who got knocked up at sixteen and now works at a diner.

He is Fairhope royalty.
I get my monarch dose from tabloid gossip.

He’s well-off.
I’m…well, off.

When our siblings get engaged, Cruz’s parents invite both families to a pre-wedding cruise.
Except Cruz and I find ourselves stuck on a different ship from everyone else.
Cue ten horrible, insufferable days at sea with a man I cannot stand.
(My fault, of course.)
But when the alcohol pours in, the secrets spill out, and I’m left with one question:
Can I take another chance on love?

378 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 10, 2021

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About the author

L.J. Shen

55 books46.5k followers
L.J. Shen is USA Today, WSJ, Washington Post and #1 Amazon Kindle Store bestselling author of contemporary romance books.

She writes angsty books, unredeemable anti-heroes who are in Elon Musk's tax bracket, and sassy heroines who bring them to their knees (for more reasons than one).

HEAs and groveling are guaranteed.

She lives in Florida with her husband, three sons, and a disturbingly active imagination.

Keep up with L.J. on all platforms:
Newsletter Sign up ➜ https://bit.ly/3LhsIrb
Instagram➜ shorturl.at/cDJRZ
TikTok ➜ shorturl.at/frw59
Facebook➜ https://goo.gl/fKCSo4
Website ➜ www.authorljshen.com

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Profile Image for gigi hadidn’t.
239 reviews
November 11, 2021
0.25 stars

🖤 hello darkness LJ my old friend 🖤

you know I wasn't even going to review this because it took me 3 days just to finish reading it and that was torture enough but I did not suffer through 400 pages just to rate it 1 star and go about my day. I'm physically incapable of doing that because my fingers are itching over my keyboard needing to let out the emotions this book made me feel.

"If you enjoyed Bad Cruz (or if you didn’t, but still have something to say about it), please consider leaving a review." - alright LJ say no more queen ✨

so this is your spoiler warning stop reading right now if you want to keep your sanity and not know the pure agony this book put me through and instead go pick up something nice and fluffy. go on do it this book is not worth it.

⚡ S P O I L E R S ⚡ A H E A D ⚡

✨Let's start with the plot ✨

Tenesse Lilybeth Turner, a single mother who got knocked up at 16 and then ghosted by said baby daddy for the next 13 years is known as 'messy nessy' the town's resident waitress, punching bag, and bimbo. Her sister is engaged to be married to the older brother of our hero Dr Cruz Costello, (if he was on greys anatomy his name would be mcpornstachy, I have never been more turned off by a hero's physical description before and I've read about fucking minotaurs. His facial hair just reminded me of the character pornstache from orange is the new black).


Cruz is the town's golden boy and the complete opposite to nessy, loved by everyone and a perpetual bachelor who hasn't settled down. His and nessy's relationship is complicated because he seems to dislike her and nessy likes riling him up. Before the wedding, both sides of the family go on a cruise for a relaxing vacation, but nessy buys the wrong tickets so Cruz and her end up on the wrong ship.

✨ The Story ✨

this book was a mess.

from the concept (Cruz goes on a cruise haha very funny miss shen you should do stand up comedy one day), to the dialogue to the characters, nothing in this book flowed in a cohesive manner or even remotely made sense.

Go back to writing about asshole billionaires LJ because that seems to be the only thing you're good at (well you were pre 2018). Some people are just not meant for experimenting.

This book is being marketed as a romance but I promise you as a girl who laughs at almost everything, I did not laugh once.

Where was the com in my rom?

The banter between Toronto and Cruz was very confusing, none of their conversations made sense it's like LJ was more bothered about writing funny puns and jokes instead of making the conversation actually make sense.

The first few chapters were okay I enjoyed the diner scene and how Tokyo and Cruz bantered with each other, but once they got on the cruise, a series of unfortunate events lead to them pretending they were a married couple by the name of "Mr & Mrs Weiner" making up the most ridiculous stories about each other to other people.

This part felt so weird because one minute Cruz was acting as if he couldn't stand Taiwan & would never go near her let alone have sex with her but then the next minute they're almost fucking (almost because Turkey didn't ever want to get knocked up again so she's SWORE completely off sex, and afterward when they did have sex she made him pull out and come inside his condom ).

Also, it's so ludicrous that not only Thailand's hometown believe she's a slut, but so does some random old woman on the cruise ship who suspects her of stealing her luggage (she didn't exactly steal since the woman's luggage/Cruz's luggage was identical), and just because she 'stole', has big blonde hair and wears tight dresses, suddenly the woman is spewing abuse at Trinidad & Tobago calling her a prostitute???

All this book did is make me realize that LJ hates women because the amount of slut-shaming in this book was extreme to the point of scary.


Just when the two of them get into the routine of hooking up, Cruz's request from the first day to switch to the ship the rest of their family are on works and the two of them move to the other ship. Cue even more shaming of Tanzania by her mum, sister, and Cruz's mother.

The drama from this point onwards was too extra so I'll try to sum up what happens:

🥴 they stop hooking up now they are back with family and don't want to bring any shame as Tehran's sister has told her to stay away from Cruz because he is for her best friend Gabriella only (Cruz's ex, they broke up before getting on the cruise).

🥴 they realize they can't stay away from each other so continue hooking up

🥴 come back to town and suddenly break up again because Tijuana is a pussy who doesn't want to stand up for herself and date him because she isn't good enough

🥴 Cruz confesses how he's always been in love with Tampa, so much so he came back after medical school to see her at a party, and when she didn't show he got drunk off his face and went to her house and demanded to see her tits and be let inside, which naturally Tallahassee assumes he's trying to assault her so she throat punches him and Cruz takes this as a sign that she rejected him and stays away from her/lowkey dislikes her.

🥴 her sister gets married and she is asked to give a speech (whilst drunk) where she confesses her love for Cruz and he proposes to her.

🥴 they make a baby under the same bleachers in high school where Taipei first got knocked up at 16 by Cruz's best friend whilst Cruz spotted for them... the clowneryyy when does it stop? My eyes did not need to read that sentence ON THE LAST PAGE OF THE BOOK.


✨ The Characters ✨


you know a lot of people hate her (rightly so) but she wasn't my most hated character in this book.

Texas started off kind of normal, she's being held accountable for one mistake (teenage pregnancy, which only she seems to be getting the blame for when it's a two-man job) for 13 years. I don't know if real small-town mentality is like this, but Tenerife is just hated for everything she does. She breathes and the town will gasp in outrage that she is stealing oxygen.

No one let this bitch rest.

Acne-ridden teenage boys sexually harass and assault her, old crony women gossip about her being a whore because she got pregnant at 16 and even her own family couldn't give two shits about her and use her for their own gain. All of this was supposed to make me like her and root for her but I just couldn't do it because she was the most spineless/gutless character I have ever read about. I am all for reading about female characters who are shy, insecure, or unable to stick up for themselves due to fear or whatever reason, going on a journey throughout the book to grow.

Did we get that here? that would be a big fat NO because it took Tahiti 360 pages into a 400 page book to attempt to stand up for herself and it wasn't even satisfactory because she ended up doing her cunty ass sisters makeup anyways.

The only thing more annoying than her lack of backbone was her vocabulary. She doesn't swear so she says GASSHOLE or PLUCKING HELL instead. My eyes rolled so hard I was scared they wouldn't come back to the front.

I know by the end her whole bimbo look turned out to not be the real her but that made me madder, because why would she fake it for so many years? I would've been more impressed had the bimbo look been her real persona and she learnt to not give af instead of that being her armour.

“Just because I look suspicious to you doesn’t mean you can search me. This is America!” One of the representatives—a black woman—gave Tennessee a really, dude? glare, winning ten points for sarcasm and another ten for timing."
- is LJ trying to be political??? PLEASE WHAT IS THIS



the pure hatred that I feel for this ugly moustache man. I couldn't stand Cruz, something about him starting the book off with a porn moustache didn't sit right with me.

List of Cruz's griveances:

🚩 that fucking 'stache

🚩 “Actually, I have just the one, but I can see why you’d make that mistake, considering its length and width. I’m flattered you paid such close attention.” - men who talk about how huge their dicks are have a micropenis.

🚩"I’m saying is that if you put a bit of effort—and a lot more clothes on—you’ll find people aren’t as allergic to you as you think.” - go off misogynistic king!!! because women live to dress for society and what they think.

🚩 "And how come she didn’t have any problem dressing like a streetwalker when she gave strong prude vibes in other regards?" have you heard of slutty virgins Cruz or is your tiny pea brain too dumb to understand that dressing slutty doesn't mean you are a slut.

🚩 "I also wanted to change her entire wardrobe and bring her back to Fairhope a new, respectable woman and get the brownie points for it. The perfect Dr. Costello gave Tennessee Turner a makeover and now his sister-in-law’s sibling looks like someone we might let babysit our kids." -do i even need to explain this quote?

🚩 "pushing a knee between her thighs and making her ride me to Orgasmville" - JAIL

🚩“Sweetheart, if I didn’t enjoy you, I’d leave you in the room and find someone else to keep me entertained.” - his backhanded compliments are soooo attractive 😍

🚩 “Actually,” Cruz’s mouth pulled into a devilish smirk, “if withdrawal is done correctly, the pull-out method is ninety-six percent effective. Not that I’ve been testing it on anyone else.” - how is this man a doctor? that is medically INACCURATE! Revoke his medical license right now.

🚩 "the entire time I was away, in med school, every time I kissed a girl, I always thought to myself—I wonder what Tennessee tastes like?” - Cruz saying my favorite line from a hero!! "even though I kissed a million different girls I only thought of you <3" like STFU no you did not you LIAR

🚩 "Don’t worry your pretty head with things that have nothing to do with you. Now that that’s settled…” - so patronizing & condescending for what? I hate this man

🚩 “Darn it. I suck.” I heaved out a sigh as I dragged my feet out the door. “That you do, and you could use some guidance in that territory, too.” Did he just criticize my oral skills?" - yes Tuscon he did 😞

🚩 “I would’ve made you mine one way or the other. I never would’ve given up on you.” - you fucking liar Cruz, she punched you one time and YOU STAYED AWAY FOR 6 YEARS WHILST YOU FUCKED OTHER GIRLS HAHAHAHA

Gabriella - Cruz's ex, idk why she got given a redemption story because her own mother gave her peanuts that she is allergic to so she could blame our lovely nessy (I ran out of countries and cities beginning with T) was too funny. but then she had to ruin it by confessing to the police it wasn't nessy (who did a small stint in jail for that, omg the more I write this review the more I realize how much crazy shit actually happened).

The sister - worst fucking bitch alive I was hoping her wedding would get canceled and that Cruz would fire her from the hospital (she's a nurse)

Rob the baby daddy - not this man ghosting his family for 13 years to go pro with the NFL, failing, but coaching other teams, marrying 2 different women, and then getting into an accident which made him realize he needed to step up. Oh sorry, he only stepped up because he LOST EVERYTHING. the worst thing was the way everyone forgave him including his son and nessy, and the rest of the town rooting for him even though he knocked nessy up and ditched her... did I mention how much I hate this book?

I think I've said enough. I want to forget this book ever happened, LJ shen you're dead to me.
Profile Image for Phuong ✯.
631 reviews5,842 followers
November 10, 2021
– 2 stars

I wanted to dnf this book so badly after the first sentence, because every person who names their heroine 'Tennesse Lilybeth Turner' deserves jail. 💀
"You're a medical miracle, you know," I said.
She looked up, resting one cheek against my window frame. "How so?"
"You're the only person I know who can stand upright without a spine."


🚢 the first few chapters were actually pretty ok and 3 stars worthy. I liked that the author changed her formula once and didn't write another walmart Vicious. Not that Cruz was great Hero, but it was a pleasant surprise that he was not another wannable rich asshole. The opposite Cruz was such a people pleaser that it got on my nerves after a while.

🚢 the only half-decent relationship in this book was between Tennesse and her teenage son Bear. Bear was actually very mature for his age and didn't act like a brat.
"Jerry might be needing me for some extra shifts in the next few weeks. That means more money. We can splurge a little. Anything you need?"
"Nah, don't worry 'bout me. You should spend that money on yourself, Mom. You never get yourself anything."

🚢 When Tennesse (I refuse to call her Messy Nessy 🤡) and Cruz spend some time alone at the wrong cruise ship. Their mutual dislike of each other made for at least one funny scene. When Tennesse was flirting with another guy and Cruz pretended to be her husband while she acted like he is her cousin and they made up the most ridiculous stories. I thought this pseudo incest story was getting intersting, but after that it went into the gutter. The banter on the ship was the best.
"So. Wanna have dinner togehter? A friendly dinner," he asked.
"You're buying."
"It's free."
I sighed. "The drinks, too?"
"I'm afraid so."


🗑️ Miss Tennessee Lilybeth Turner was just an misunderstood heroine, who's labelled as the town slut, because she's hiding behind her make-up and skimpy outfits in fear of getting rejection. At first glance one could say she's blunt with her gives-no-fuck-attitude, but for me she was the most doormat heroine of them all. All the people in the town think she's trash and treat her like that. Her family treats her like trash. Tennesse is a punshing bag for everyone and she just takes it 💀 why not get the fuck out of there with your son? love where love is due, but what did these people ever do to you to gain your loyalty? yes right, nada zil zero.

🗑️ still ranting about Miss Tennesse Lilybeth Turner, but she's is not like other girls and doesn't swear. So she goes around saying things like "gasstard, gasshole, cluster pluck" ma'am I'm asking you to stop, your 13 yrd old son can handle it if you say asshole 🥴

🗑️ does this author know how to write a decent relationship between families like a sister - sister or child - parents? Because I don't see it anywhere. Tennesse's parents were so awful and her sister is the worse. I don't fucking care that Trinity's stayed awake half the night when Bear was a baby to care about him or that she used all her savings to pay for his ear operation when Tennesse was struggling. I don't care about it, because it was all off page and tell > shown. Because what was shown in this book about Trinity was fucking awful. Trinity was a self-centered bitch whose only talent was being a shitty nurse.
"This whore you raised," my sister pointed at me accusingly, raising her voice, "is sleeping with my maid of honor's boyfriend."

🗑️ okay so we all know this author sucks at writing healthy family bonds, but you know what else she sucks at? writing supportive female-female friendships or any kind of female-female relationships. The OW drama in this book was nasty. Gabriella (Cruz ex-girlfriend) was terrible. She used every opportunity to fling herself at Cruz even after their break-up and her only motivation to live is to degrade Tennesse to make herself feel better. She was the kind of person who was literally saying shit like "waitress? YOO-HOOO, can I get some help here?" 💀 it couldn't get more Karen when she ask to see the management after Tennesse talked back to her.

🗑️ not only had this book tons of OW drama, no we were graced with OM drama too since Tennesse got pregnant with Bear with a guy who was not Cruz, but his best friend Rob. The Vicious-Emilia-Dean triangle was recycled once again. Rob didn't stood a chance after disapearing for 13 yrs and came back outta nowhere, but for the sake of more drama he had to come back to create not needed friction 😬
"Just remember, Cruz. Even if you fucked her, she is, and always will be, my leftovers. I was there first. I tasted her first."

🗑️ the plot was a joke lmao 🤣 nothing against the 'stranded on another cruise ship than the rest of the family'-plot, while that's not the most original storyline, the drama that unfolds in the second half is over the top stupid. With all the OW and OM drama that was going on, of course there had to be some kind of mystery plot be included when someone tried to poison Gabrielle with peanuts. Everyone blamed Tennesse who else. She is the waitress after all and the town most hated person 🤡 lost braincells and for what?

🗑️ the romance between Cruz and Tennesse wasn't the worse thing I've read this year, but once these two got back from their little cruise trip it was so exhausting to keep up with them. I was so done first with all the drama, but also with their hiding game, because Tennessee's family would not approve as well as none of the other ppl in that dumbfuck town, because Cruz is their golden boy and deserves better yada yada 🥴 also Tennesse didn't know what she wanted and rejected Cruz so many times I felt low-key bad for that man.


Ooops, here I told myself I would write one or two sentences about Bad Cruz and be done with it, but I had more to say than I thought 🙃 Bad Cruz is the definition of 'same same but different' the characters might be slightly different, but all the problematic pieces that usually make Shen's books are still very much present.
Profile Image for TJ ☾.
698 reviews1,251 followers
December 21, 2021

no pls i- ✋🏽🤣



OMG WHO WERE THESE PPL 🤣🤣 i cant believe i read it all the way through i feel absolutely unhinged rn... brb i need to go call 911 to report the crime that was just committed AGAINST MY BRAINCELLS


*okay, here's a list of things you can find in this book*

✔️ the most spineless heroine LJ has ever written (which is an accomplishment if you're a real one and know how much this woman loves writing doormats)

✔️ cringey bland tasteless double-standards having whitebreadhasmoreflavor pornstache hero, 100 years could go by and i'd still be looking for this mans personality. this is a real gif of cruz costello waking up in the morning and looking in the mirror:


✔️ inconsistent wishy-washy feelings no chemistry relationship development built on nothing, LJ rly holding onto the 'he's been pining for her since pre-K' by the tips of her fingers bc i swear i have no idea what redeeming qualities either of these characters had to make them likable, let alone attractive. mans called her spineless like 18 times

✔️ ott evil side characters that randomly became good at the end w absolutely no development to make this change in personality and temperament make sense

✔️ and finally, the last thing you can count on this book for: sucking out your will to live until you're a shell of the person you once were <3 have fun my babies!!!! 😚😚💓
Profile Image for Matilda.
258 reviews1,781 followers
November 20, 2021
1.25 stars 👨🏻‍🦱🥊

I’m questioning if Miss Shen even attempted to make any of these characters likeable in anyway. I mean seriously Tennessee (h) has zero backbone and for what???

It’s one thing to be timid and shy, but the girl just ALLOWED people to treat her like shit and I couldn’t take it anymore. One of the characters tries to frame her for fucking attempted murder and she didn’t even get mad 😭😭😭

Her sister treats her like absolute shit and constantly gaslights her yet by the end, they kiss and make up?? How does one go from—

“This whore you raised,” my sister pointed at me accusingly, raising her voice, “is sleeping with my maid of honor’s boyfriend.”


Trinity charged toward me, bitch-slapping me so hard, so zealously, my face flew in the other direction and my opposite cheek slammed against the kitchen cabinet.


“I don’t have anything written, and I’m Messy Nessy, remember?”
“You’re my sister,” Trinity maintained. “I like your mess. Your mess is great. Perfect. And you know me better than anyone else.”

Then, based on the heroine’s inner thoughts, for a large portion of the book I thought the heroine was straight up caking her face like some chav girl, but then the hero started calling her hot. I realized, the heroine thinks wearing foundation and contour automatically makes her ugly 💀

The appeal of looking like the designated washed-out diner waitress who needed a shower and a clue had dissipated ever since I realized I could cut thirty minutes of preparation each morning only to make myself look less attractive than I was.

Then we have the hero, Cruz…listen his roasts were actually hilarious and they’re the only reason why I gave this an extra .25 stars

“You’re a medical miracle, you know,” I said.
She looked up, resting one cheek against my window frame. “How so?”
“You’re the only person I know who can stand upright without a spine."

Other than that? Cruz is straight up a hypocrite. He complains that Tennessee is stupid for allowing people to treat her like shit yet he allows people to do the exact same thing to him??? You can't shit on someone else when you let the exact same thing happen to you buddy

Here’s the worst fucking part. The whole book consisted of Cruz and Tennessee hiding their relationship from the town because he’s the golden boy and she’s “Messy Nessy”. He breaks up with Tennessee because she didn’t want to affect her family’s reputation or something stupid like that. Yet, it was originally HIM trying to hide their relationship and it was HIM who was embarrassed to be seen with her in their town

“Doesn’t have to be a one-night stand,” I heard myself say…
“Just as long as no one finds out about it, right?”
I groaned.
She had me there. Not that I was ashamed, but…


Straight up, wtf is this—
Tears began to slide down my cheeks.
I was worried Cruz was going to stop, but he didn’t.
Cruz kissed each and every one of them, sliding in and out of me, not because of his own pleasure, I suspected, but because he knew if we stopped, I’d feel like a complete failure and couldn’t face him or myself anymore.

the heroine is crying during sex and the hero is like—

Oh don’t even let me forget about the part when he attempts to push Tennessee into being with him by allowing his ex to touch him 🥰

She was all over me without really being all over me, her hands on my shoulders, arms, face.
I watched Tennessee with a lazy, whatcha-gonna-do-about-it smirk and hoped to hell she had a bit more balls than what I’d given her credit for.

→is this supposed to be romantic? I’m having a hard time feeling anything but disgust

Oh don’t worry, I haven’t forgot about Nessy calling Cruz her “plaything” right in front of his face.

“In his dreams. Cruz is just a plaything, an interlude to pass the time. I belong to no one, Robert Gussman. Only to myself.”

Let me say, I was extremely happy when I finally got to the last chapter of the book cause my clown ass really thought it’s finally over…only for me to read that Cruz and Tennessee conceived their child…under the bleachers of their high school….where she lost her virginity...the exact same spot where she conceived her son with her ex…aka Cruz’s old best friend…while CRUZ SPOTTED THEM. I DON’T EVEN CARE THAT THAT SENTENCE IS GRAMMATICALLY INCORRECT. Miss Shen, who told you this was okay…I want to speak to that person because they deserve jail time

I rest my case.

preread review:

Will I, someone who hasn't liked a LJS book since Vicious, learn my lesson and stop reading her books?? No, bc where's the fun in that
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
November 24, 2021
hmm. this isnt a bad story, per se... it just isnt a great romance story.

this fails to deliver on pretty much all required fronts of a good love story. there is no sweetness, no humour, no swoons. its a very messy story, and not in a fun way. but in a frustratingly way to where im pretty sure my eyes are now stuck because i kept rolling them so hard.

boo to the incessant woman on woman hate. boo to the spineless MC who thinks shes quirky but really just annoying. boo to the cruise plot that ended at the halfway point. boo to the sucky small town stereotypes. boo to all of the drama that could never be categorised as angst or tension no matter what way its presented. boo to the most horrible families in the history of fiction. and the biggest boo of them all goes to cruzs moustache.

actually, i take back what i said at the beginning. this is a bad story.

2 stars
Profile Image for Samradni Eater of Burgers.
263 reviews54 followers
November 10, 2021
Someone give me a fucking award for completing this book.
It's early morning still and this book has taken all my sanity and energy. i'm gonna be a zombie for the rest of the day.

ok to begin there were a few good parts in this book like
👓 Some parts were actually funny
👓 Cruz and Tennessee's banter was cute (in the beginning)
👓 I liked Bear - Tennessee's son
but thats it. I did not like anything else.

As for the bad parts there were so so many
🤡 Tennessee was fucking annoying. I know she tried to come along as a bad bitch who did not give a shit about anyone but i just found her so annoying and tbh a useless doormat. There arent a lot of things worse than a useless doormat.
Like in the 1st chapter itself
"Had approximately six miles of legs, each the width of toothpick.........if you ask me , no thigh gap in the world was worth eating like a hamster"
Why the skinny shaming LJ? I'm sorry is it trendy , is that how women treat each other? Or are you just a fucking dumbwit? huh which one

And it was constant and there really wasnt any need. She body shamed multiple people multiple times. and for what, to demonstrate you are different and eat burger and fries and you aren't like other girls?
Tennessee was drowning in self pity and being treated horribly by everyone and i mean EVERYONE in the entire town. She was a slut and a hussy for having a child at 16. Seriously Fuck off and this was North Carolina if it was Minnesota I would have at least rolled my eyes and believed it.

🤡 And tennessee being the different girl she is let everyone believe she was what they called her .... but secretly helped her co workers and covered for them.
and she dressed the part . This is how a imagined her. Trust me she was described like this
and since im not a judgemental jackass I really dont care how you look until the book is good. You could have a big mole that flaps around in wind. I do not fucking care.

LJ Shen has always done this. There exists no good female companionship or supportive friends in her books. Cause wheres the reality in that. All women do fight and constantly put each other down and compete for who is the prettiest. And aspirations and ambitions? What the fuck is that, right?

I remember reading What Price Paradise by Katherine Allred. Same situations , small town , h already had a bad rep for no reason , out of wedlock pregnancy in the 90s and yet characters , pace, the way everyone behaved was pretty normal and good. But there was not a SINGLE decent person in 2020 North Carolina.

🤡 Dont even get me started on the slut shaming.

"The woman swept a judgmental gaze over Tennessee, head-to-toe."
"No one in their right mind would marry this trailer trash.”
"It’s because you are too beautiful, and no woman in their right mind wants to stand next to you."

Let me tell you a beautiful blonde woman with a banging body ( whatever lj considers as banging)
isn't very rare. And truly no one cares. Not enough to go out of their way to insult you cause you are just so beautiful. 😒

Cruz was fine. He was just there.
Oh and he had a pornstache

I thought i hated The Monster but i actually couldnt even finish that one. This I read completely so its just on another level.

So as a doctor graduated from House M.D i suggest LJ take a big , long break. Stop writing for a while . Explore, meet actual women and expand your horizon and most importantly try to change her middle aged south asian aunty small minded mentality. 🙃

Am I petty enough to rate the book 1 star without knowing anything about it but just cause I dislike the author? 🤔
Going to take some time to think about the answer.

LJ Shen has moved above my 'give her one more chance' level now. The Monster was my VERY LAST straw.
Her stories, characters are going exponentially low. Plus she's kind of an asshole. So idk if I'll read.

But don't come at me if you catch me reading this soon after it's release. 🎃
Profile Image for Yai Min (semi i.a.).
157 reviews115 followers
November 12, 2021
⭐ 1/5 (One very undeserving star.)


⚠️BEWARE OF LONG RANT AND A VERY RESENTFUL ONE AT THAT⚠️ Skip if you want to avoid the pain of this. ☠

I don't even know how I was able to finish this fucking mess, but what is even more mysterious is how is it possible for a woman to write this 🚮.

Now, let's start this fucking roast but first let me warn you that it's going to be long, with a sarcastic tone and a very resentful one. If you don't want to read any of that above ⬆️ run while you can because I'm really fired up with this book.

This book should be sued for fake advertising because if your marketing/ advertising your book as a rom-com the least it could be is romantic!! But this book was not romantic and even less comedic, funny or anything of that genre.
The book was just the same old bully troupe, L.J Shen likes to write, masked as a rom-com. Everyone in this book bullies and take advantage of the heroine in all the possible ways while making her the 'bad one' (aka pariah) in the town.

All the relationships I this book are☣ plain toxic☣ and just suck and hurts to even read them. Is it normal for a family to treat a sister/daughter like shit, take advantage of her love and loyalty and make her do all you dirty laundry and then rub in her face how much help she has received from you, how much you have to sacrifice for her and keeping count of all that favors (if you can call it that between family) and throw it at her face whenever you want just to taunt her? Maybe this is normal in America because in Europe (at least in my country from what I know this is not normal, we don't treat family like this), in all families there are problems but this is something else, completely in a different level.
This was too vicious and really there was no need to shame a character like that... and a woman at that.


They were leaving me to do all of this by myself? Alone?

“Remember when you dropped out of high school? When you were pregnant? And everybody at school taunted me, stuffed my locker with condoms, and called me names because of you? How I had to eat my lunch in the restroom because I didn’t want to be harassed?”

“And remember when Bear needed that ear surgery, and you didn’t have the money, and I gave you all my savings from my summer job at the Children’s Ministry?”

“So what I want to know now, my dear sister, is why couldn’t you abide by my one rule, my simple request, my plea to you not to ruin my wedding?”

“This whore you raised,” my sister pointed at me accusingly, raising her voice, “is sleeping with my maid of honor’s boyfriend.”

Trinity charged toward me, bitch-slapping me so hard, so zealously, my face flew in the other direction and my opposite cheek slammed against the kitchen cabinet.
That's some beautiful scene right here.

"I already called Trinity and your mom and told them, so don’t worry about that.”
So my parents and sister knew the truth and still hadn’t reached out. I guess they were going to sweep it under the carpet like everything else in our relationship.

Some familial ties and support here! 🆘️

Heard the concept of feminism before?
We try to be strong women, who support each other and have the same equality and rights than men. Yeah, well, it seem our dear L.J. Shen doesn't know this or hasn't heard of this rising movement in the middle of twenty-first century... because to write a story where her heroine, Tennesse, who gets pregnant at the age of sixteen and as a single mother works as a waitress to support her thirteen year old son. And in her working place she suffers SEXUAL HARASSMENT by her boss who obliges her to wear a tiny dress and her clientele, who takes it upon themselves to touch her whenever they want, say whatever they want and make her bend to get a view of her ass.
This is a fucking crime in a LOT of countries, there are working conditions established by the law, that the employer must abide to.
So what is this disgusting thing that the author wrote here?? This really pissed my off to a point where I had to stop reading and cool myself off.


...He’d insinuated I should become a hooker to put my son through college). Apparently, we couldn’t afford the legal fee nor the problematic reputation.
WTF? This is the boss, she's talking about.

Jerry’s waitresses (or: me. I was the only waitress here) wore pretty skimpy dresses because he said it got them (again: me) better tips. It did not. Needless to say, wearing the uniform was a must. White and pink striped, and shorter than a bull’s fuse.
Endearing these job conditions... 🥰👏🏼

Since I was pretty tall for a woman, half my butt was on full display whenever I bent down in this outfit. I could always squat, but then I ran the risk of showing something even more demure than my tuchus.

...crouching down to pick up the fork from the floor.
Two things happened simultaneously.
The first thing was I felt the douchebag’s fingers pinch my butt cheek.
The second was I saw the flash of a phone camera behind me as someone took a picture.

How respectful, these customers are... I guess they haven't heard the concept of respect, boundaries and sexual harassment is a crime. It's not their fault obviously, poor teenagers 😩, it's the world who misunderstand them because well they are hormonated teenagers incapable of self control😤.

“I hope you choke on 'my straw'.”
How beautiful everything is! 🤢☠

Another BIG FUCKING ISSUE here is Tennesse and Cruz , ugh, I really disliked both.

💎 TENNESSE WAS A BIG FAT PINK LIE WRAPPED UP IN EVEN MORE FAKE LACE, trying to be what she wasn't, strong. She was immature, a pushover, A FUCKING DOORMAT describes her more exactly, she was gross and annoying. If you don't know how to keep healthy relationships then at least seek help. There wasn't any naivete, sweetness or delicate spore in our Tennesse, for much of L.J. Shen dismay. She was an atrocious heroine. Please make heroines who knows, how to talk properly like an adult if they are one, even swearing words, all that gasshole, glass instead of ass, fluck instead of fuck was annoying and immature, it wasn’t appealing at all or endearing.

🗡 And DR. CRUZ COSTELLO our knight in fake white shinning armour, who's the BIGGEST HYPOCRITE in the entire world, who dare someone give life lessons, when he himself is doing just the same things and living a fake life.
You should set your life straight before giving life advice, you mamma boy. Considering yourself the center of the universe is called narcissism.

And let's not even start with the "steam" of this book, it's an insult to other steamy books to call it steam, this was PLAINLY GROSS and WEIRD. I have never read something more turn off and disgusting like this before, after reading this you seriously need to bleach your eyes, therapy and maybe hypnotherapy to forget all that awfulness.
And well, I didn’t feel any playfulness between them during the beginning of their sexy times, actually, for me it felt like Dr. Pornstache was pressuring our heroine for sex.


...it made me so wet I was pretty sure that mop in the room we were occupying was going to be put to good use by the time we were done.
Gross! 🪠🪣

He even had a pornstache he was unaware made him extra sexy. There wasn’t a woman within the town’s limit who didn’t want to see her juices on that ’stache.
Gross!🤢🤮 👨🏻

Tears began to slide down my cheeks.
I was worried Cruz was going to stop, but he didn’t.
Cruz kissed each and every one of them, sliding in and out of me, not because of his own pleasure, I suspected, but because he knew if we stopped, I’d feel like a complete failure and couldn’t face him or myself anymore.

This was just weird as fuck, this is not steamy or hot, this is insane and WEIRD.
Why would anyone be a failure to stop in the middle of sex, by the way, honestly asking out of curiosity.

Now, for the fun part, I left for the last the thing that really pissed me off real good, the icing on the cake. If you're writing a book with a character suffering from a disease, disorder, health problem... although in this case is a self diagnosed disorder (yes! You read it correctly our dear Tennesse self diagnosed with a learning disability all by herself 😌), the least you could do as an author is research and inform yourself on that topic till you know it almost by heart, because if you write whatever you want without an ounce of remorse, then you end up writing something without straight up information or facts, misguiding readers or offending them.

Tennesse supposedly, is "diagnosed" with ADHD, which is a learning disability, that makes it difficult to concentrate and to maintain concentration, there's also people who has hyperactivity too, has problems finding themselves to relax or stay put, even with their thoughts. This learning disability doesn't make the person different from others, you can study and get great marks, it DOES have treatment, medication and you can lead a normal life. I know it's only mentioned twice or three times but it's mentioned, and that just changed everything.

From my personal perspective, as a medically diagnosed ADHD patient, reading this book angered me to infinite levels. The least a person can do it's insult a person with a learning disability without even caring enough to know what the hell that disability is about.
Going through this book and reading ADHD and then a you go through few more pages and start spotting words like dumb, stupid, multi-lane traffic highway to refer to poor concentration disability. YEAH, THAT KIND OF PISSED ME OFF badly.
And even the said heroine herself, who supposedly suffers from this condition calls herself idiot, stupid... I really can't with this. This was all BULLSHIT and remarking the bullshit part.

I personally really DID NOT enjoy this book, I respect those who did, but I just can't believe this book with the mess of biggest proportions this was... thank you for baiting us🤡🥳 into reading this 🚮💀, I will remember this for the next time and take the adequate measures to prevent myself from repeating the same mistake.

P.S. : I'm truly sorry really if you don't want to read this looong rant don't!! 🙏🏻🙏🏻
Profile Image for Natasha.
298 reviews349 followers
November 12, 2021
Okay where is LJ.Shen and what have you done to her?? The guy was actually decent and not a mean bully and asshole!!🙀
He was actually quite mehh and bland.

But OMG the h, she drove me INSANE!!!🤯

◇They call her Messy Nessy.
◇She is a single mom.
◇Her high school bf left her and the baby but now after 13 years he is back in town to try and win them back. Also as a side OM drama.
◇She lives in a small judgmental town where everyone treats her like the town slut just bc she got pregnant at 16.
◇She has this weird mentality and wears skimpy clothes, tons of makeup and lets everyone treat her like dirt.

"She was over-the-top with the makeup, skimpy clothes, and hair inspired by sixties’ vixens."

◇She is not like other girls and she never swears.

“She’s not ambitious, she’s a bitch.”
I made a face. “We don’t curse under this roof. It gives me the hives. Can we just call her a bleach or something?”

◇Her family also treats her awful, takes advantage of her and humiliates her every single time.

"but when Mrs. Holland accused me of trying to kill her daughter, you simply took her word for it."

◇Her sister is the biggest bitch, hits her and insults her.

"Trinity charged toward me, bitch-slapping me so hard, so zealously, my face flew in the other direction and my opposite cheek slammed against the kitchen cabinet."

"This whore you raised,” my sister pointed at me accusingly, raising her voice, “is sleeping with my maid of honor’s boyfriend.”

Can she be more pathetic and spineless?🤦‍♀️
It took 98% of the book to finally grow a backbone.

I was srlsy so annoyed by this whole storyline. It felt forced and unbelievable how everyone treated her for so long and how she took the insults and never stood up for herself.

The only part i liked was the first half when they went on the cruise, the banter between Messy Nessy and Cruz and her son Bear, he was a spitfire unlike his mom.

My theory that LJ Shen can't write strong badass women is once again proven right.
Profile Image for eff (hiatus).
221 reviews64 followers
November 11, 2021
He's the golden boy of this town. And me? I'm the big, bad witch who is about to dirtyy him up.

when i read that i really thought the heroine was some kind of bad bitch but i was wrong. I guess miss shen was right about something, this heroine is really different because she's one of the worst and mostb pathetic heroines that she has ever written.
Profile Image for ❥ KAT ❥ Kitty Kats Crazy About Books.
2,225 reviews8,036 followers
November 6, 2021
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This book was one I was highly anticipating, once it landed on my kindle, game over, I barely surfaced to breathe.

I don't fully understand why the township despised Messy Nessy so much by all accounts other than a teenage pregnancy she was squeaky clean though her war painted on makeup and her thrift shop clothes which showed off all her assets begged otherwise, making her look like a 1950's pinup girl.

With most she wouldn't hold back telling them exactly how she felt about their comments but when it came to her family she really had no backbone, they treated her atrociously and time after time I was hoping she'd grow a backbone and air their wrong doings publicly because they were no better than the townsfolk.

The towns golden child, treated like a celebrity, Dr. Cruz Costello holy heck, how I loved his character, once they were stranded together on a cruise ship and all inhibitions left behind the real Cruz stepped forward. Their witty banter and hot chemistry had me speed reading this like a woman possessed.

In true L.J. Shen fashion the beginning had me in stitches, snort laughing freely, the middle had me swooning and falling in love with these two fully, the ending was a wee bit rushed (after the wedding of the century, it kind of fell short) I expected more, wanted more, craved more, but all in all I really loved this book!!

Profile Image for mira.
784 reviews964 followers
November 17, 2021

“I would’ve made you mine one way or the other. I never would’ve given up on you.”

i've hated every book lj shen has ever written. i was so curious about this because of all those nice edits on instagram. what in the fucking mess was this?

i'm still cringing after being done with this. ugh. i don't think i'll ever pick up another lj shen book in the near future.

everyone was so annoying. it was boring and cringy. thats it.
January 12, 2023
“Scared sheetless!”

The following ratings are out of 5:
Narrator: 🎙🎙🎙🎙
Romance: 💚🖤💙💜❤️
Heat/Steam: 🔥🔥
Story/Plot: 📕📗📙📘📔
World building: 🌏🌍🌎🌏🌎
Character development: 😎☺️🙃😚🥰

The heroine: Tennessee “Nessy” Turner - the people of Fairhope, North Carolina call her “Messy Nessy”. She had a child out of wedlock and has been know to throat punch when angered. She grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, her high school boyfriend left her when she found out she was pregnant. Thirteen years later she raising her son, Bear, working at a diner and she thinks of herself as the town screw up.

The Hero: Dr. Cruz Costello - grew up very nicely in Fairhope as the favorite son. He and his family were once invited to Thanksgiving at the White House. He was the popular High School quarterback who went off to an ivy league college and came back a Doctor. He is loved by everyone in town. Cruz is also “Hotter than Ryan Gosling in Drive”. He goes into the diner often with his high maintenance girl of the month.

The Story: Cruz made a deliberate effort to not acknowledge Nessy when they were in the same place, he also called her Tennessee when everyone else called her Messy Nessy. When Nessy’s deadbeat ex. Boyfriend Rob comes back to town and moves down the street from her, she has no idea what to do. She is busy working and helping her sister get ready for her upcoming marriage to Cruz’s older brother.

The book was told in dual points of view via dual narration. Lauren Ezzo and Sebastian York did the narration. I love Sebastian York, he is a great narrator with a terrific voice. Lauren Ezzo is great at putting emotion and sarcasm into her voice, she also did a fine southern accent. However, I didn’t like the tone or something, the voice just made me dislike Nessy from the start. She sounded like one of those brash and over-loud outspoken women who’s so annoying.

This was quite a departure from L.J. Shen’s previous works. Cruz is a genuinely nice guy and a realistic person. He has always been known as the golden boy, the good son, the great neighbor and all around good person. He doesn’t necessarily like always being Mr. Perfect, but he has anxiety when he doesn’t live up to peoples expectations.

Tennessee was also a much different person than everyone saw her as. While everyone saw her as the low class town screw up, she in fact was a great mother, a loving daughter and would do just about anything for her sister. Though people treated her exactly like what they thought of her, and her family took her for granted.

Nessy and Cruz go on a ten day cruise with both of their families, a pre-wedding cruise intended for the families to get to know each other and they end up on a different ship than the rest of the family. They are true enemies, yet they get much closer during the 10 day cruise. I liked the pace of this book as they learned more about each other as well as the supporting characters on the cruise and in their families.

I came to like Tennessee more and more as the story went on and even liked the narration by Lauren Ezzo more. It seems she was just being exactly like the character was at the beginning. Nessy put on a fake persona to protect herself from all the haters and became more real as the story went on. As her and Cruz got to know each other she became more herself and the narration paralleled that. Though I must say that I got frustrated at these two characters, they could tell each other off like nobody’s business but neither could find a way to tell off those that really deserved it.

Profile Image for Bibi.
1,288 reviews3,232 followers
November 23, 2021
Loved it!

When LJ gets it right, she goes all in. I was sucked in to this story from beginning to end.
Profile Image for Cynema.
601 reviews94 followers
November 15, 2021

I’M NOT MINCING WORDS… changed review from 4 stars to 1 star

I should have known that any review from a frequent critic of this author's books would not be welcome. A GR friend tried to warn me, but I was so caught up in my sense of fairplay. It just took writing a good review (for a change) on this book to open my eyes. The truth hurts because it was weaponized against me. I despise gaming of the review system in any form – by reviewers or authors. It’s so rampant right now that it feels like an inoperable, metastasizing cancer for which there’s no cure. Fake reviews, overblown hyperbole, armies of fans that will do anything to silence authors' critics. [All of you whose reviews are genuine are excluded.]


Early on, I loved this author’s work and often mention those books in my critical reviews as proof that I’m not just dumping on her for no reason. My criticisms are always backed up with specifics. I never gave up hope that she’d rediscover herself, which seems pretty magnanimous considering the lengths that she and some of her fans go to to silence critics. I share this rarefied club with some of my GR friends who have been vilified, stalked, reviews removed on sites other than GR, and ratings unfairly downgraded for no other reason than to amplify the overall ratings of this author’s badly written books in recent years. Still, I persevered with honesty. I’ve been diplomatic at times, tempered my words, and even diluted my reviews in the name of objectivity. No more. I learned a powerful lesson with my positive review of this book. I ate crow and was ecstatic to praise the book because I truly liked it. But that was a naïve mistake on my part.

I’m damned if I do, and damned if I don’t on reviews of this author. For all you literary readers, the “sword of Damocles" hangs over my head every time because there’s an aura of reviewer vindictiveness in her world that doesn’t belong in the love of books and truthfulness in reviews. What prompted this response from me? It was the final realization that authors wield a nasty power on a mega-retailer site that we love and loathe. It’s possible for fans to destroy a reviewer, and authors can blacklist reviewers and have postings of critical reviews delayed and buried so deep in the pile that damage to a book's overall ratings is minimized. [GR, however, is not a retail site and doesn't give authors that power.] I’m being vague, but it’s a money game. My soul sisters in this unique club know exactly what I’m talking about. Apparently, that wide net also ensnares a blacklisted reviewer's positive reviews of an author. What a stupid move to shoot down the positive along with the negative.

It just happened to my glowing review of this book submitted to that “other” site. The number of reviews of it exploded tenfold and yet my positive review is the one not posted. My reviews for this author are ALWAYS withheld for posting on that site. Because of it, you'd never know I was a top reviewer. Critical reviews of her books are on the rise as she amasses more critics. Guess this author is willing to throw the baby out with the bath water by sacrificing good reviews along with critical ones. Now I know where I stand, and won’t bother writing any more positive reviews of her work because there’s no point. However, I also won’t be silenced from writing critical ones because they can't be buried for long. If I read one of her books and love it, I’ll just keep it to myself. She obviously doesn't want my praise. My critical reviews will still be objective, but being on a "hit list" severely dampens my interest in bothering to write a positive review. I turned the other cheek this time, and got slapped. I’m done with authors like this in general.

Even though I don’t have an army behind me, I have a PEN, and unlike this author lately, I know how to use it. I’ve been involved in real literature all my academic and professional life. The PEN IS STILL MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD, and my pen is twitching like fuck.

For anyone interested in my original review of this book to see what was so “offensive” to delay posting, I’ve included it as a spoiler, but it will not be reposted again with its original rating.

Profile Image for Bookgasms Book Blog.
2,794 reviews1,380 followers
October 26, 2021
Gah!! Every story that L.J. Shen writes is a story that will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on my heart that will never fade. I absolutely LOVE and die for Cruz and Tennessee. These characters completely pulled the rug out from under me and left me pining for more!! Bad Cruz was phenomenal and definitely one of 2021's most addicting and "Unputdownable" books!

Without giving much of the plot away, it can be said that Bad Cruz, and Cruz in particular, is L.J. Shen's answer to a nice guy. He is sweet, sexy and so delicious. I loved him from the first page all the way to the epilogue. He was honest, forthright and just so damn perfect. Likewise, Tennessee was just THE BEST: raw, sassy, misunderstood and so so strong and endearing. I really loved how blunt and caring she was and the fact that she was a protective Mama Bear was just the icing on an already fabulous cake. 

Overall, this story was just SO different and unexpected. This single mom/romantic comedy is not one we would expect from Shen, but that is the best part - it is heartwarming, hilarious and so consuming, proving how once again this author can write anything she sets her heart and mind to. Bravo! 5 stars! ~Ratula ❤
Profile Image for SHOMPA.
367 reviews164 followers
March 8, 2023
*3.8 ⭐️stars!

When I tried to read it a few months ago, a few humiliation scenes in the first chapter gave me a bad impression of the entire book, so I didn't continue further that time. But now, after giving it a second chance with much needed patience, I kind of find the story very entertaining. To be honest, I was shocked by how well written the funny parts were. The two main characters had so many layers of levity and humor, mostly how they unfolded their true selves. I loved the pair. Anyway, this compelling story also features a lot of good things to enjoy.

✅A second chance at love,
✅An emotionally broken yet feisty heroine
✅Great banter
✅Hot-steamy scenes with one-bed-trope
✅Kind of a forbidden love story (our heroine fell in love with her sister's fiance's younger brother).
✅Very romantic with a small amount of angst and a lot of drama

So yes, it was a fun read. I am very much glad I took another chance with this one. But still, why didn't this book get a 5 star rating from me!?

Because the scornfully mentally abusive scenes were extremely bad, which I also had very difficulty digesting. Truthfully, it literally made my blood boil! In fact, some parts of the book were quite unbelievable too. Especially at the end of the book, the way the bad characters are suddenly portrayed as good without any depth was really confusing. I don't think self-absorbed people suddenly change in this way over night.
Profile Image for Mia.
2,321 reviews651 followers
November 13, 2021
LJ didn't even try with this "book", Messy Nessy are you kidding me is this kindergarten. This is yet other Vicious /Emilia and Persephone / Cillian repacked because that all she knows. Can someone tell LJ to go in retirement please.
Profile Image for Gina .
385 reviews68 followers
November 10, 2021
Aside from the utter ridiculousness of this woman’s talent to perfect the most blandest plot lines…

We’re also adding adults acting like teenagers in their late twenties..

Sir please 😪

This would have worked so much better in a high school setting
Profile Image for ❤️ Nanda ❤️.
692 reviews330 followers
November 18, 2021

I don't even know how to start this review, so I'll start with what i liked, because it's the smaller part...

I really loved that for the first time ever, the H wasn't a carbon copy of Vicious. Or a billionaire asshole of a jerk, with no soul or appeal.
He was actually a nice guy, golden boy, with manners and even a bit of a pushover.

Unfortunately, the author still don't know how to write a strong, or barely realistic or half interesting, female main character! Tennessee was bad... From her name to her slut reputation (even though the only time she EVER had sex, was to get pregnant at 16, under the bleachers), to her bad luck, she was a trainwreck. The book should be called Bad Tennessee, or Bad Nessy to avoid the repercussions from the Tennesseans.

I would say that this book is a Hallmark satire for sure, because the things that happened here were soooooo over the top, so fucking extra that i feel like I need a golden medal, just because i endure it until the very end.

I won't get into all the details about her shit family, or the messy Nessy, or all the cruise ordeal, or how she couldn't curse so used substitute words for cursing, or even about all the love that Cruz had for her along 13 years, but never done anything about it until said cruise happened.

Nah... It was bad.
I won't deny that it was also entertaining to read so many weird shit.
It was like... Let me read just a few more pages to see what other crazy shit will happen next.

But yeah... I'm done with this review.
The end with her getting pregnant again under the same bleaches that "ruined" her life, was just the rotten cherry on top of this shit show.
The old LJ is still nowhere to be found.


I just know I'll regret this decision, but apparently, I'm the chosen as tribute to read it between my so called best friends... 😒😒

Be still brain cells...
You've got this!

PS: it can still be fun if the old LJ Shen wrote it.
Profile Image for Lottie Love.
114 reviews8 followers
Want to read
February 7, 2021
This is LJ. Shen redemption book.
Like a metaphor. There are 2 types of authors from my point of view as reader who buys books.
On one hand you have THAT author who you buy every single book she writes, with the amazing cover and smelling it’s pages when it arrives home.
On the other hand there are authors that you like, you enjoy and who writes really well but after a while every book looks the same with different cover and you decide to stop preordering and buying the book, the excitement ends and instead you start adding the book to KU.
I really love LJ. Shen work but giiiiiiiiirl this is going to be the last book I buy if she keeps writing the same thing over and over again.
Profile Image for sash.
200 reviews25 followers
December 3, 2021

"He even had a pornstache he was unaware made him extra sexy. There wasn’t a woman within the town’s limit who didn’t want to see her juices on that ’stache."

this is my 13th reason what the actual fuck
Profile Image for Shabby  -BookBistroBlog.
1,516 reviews816 followers
November 10, 2021
Secretive and forbidden tale of Prince Charming & the scullery maid avatar of cinderella, but en route to Calamityville riding a Fiasco ship.


Now I truely understand what the acronym ROTFLMAO is all about. That's me, Rolling On The Floor Laughing My Gass off!!! I'm in stitches and they're ready to burst open again!
I had a hard time keeping my tittering and teen-worthy giggling in check cause this book tickled all my funny bones till my sides started aching. Leigh is truely a maestro who spins words like a web and I get entangled, ensnared and enchanted every time.


This story is like a breath of fresh air, characters too endearing, prose too slick & smart, feels too impressive. Leigh has truely outdone herself mixing sensitivity and hilarity to soften the blow of an otherwise angsty book.
Messy Nessy aka Tennessee Lilybeth Turner is the proverbial Black sheep, the trouble maker with a Scarlet Letter permanently etched on her forehead in the hopelessly gossip driven town of Fairhope, North Carolina.


"I'm hogging all of the bad press Fairhope has been allotting it's citizens, everybody knew I was the screw-up. The town’s black sheep. The harlot, the reckless woman, the jezebel. "

She crashes, stumbles, tumbles through life barely keeping her head above water. When the townspeople label her as a vixen, she dresses up the part. Down on her luck and backed into the corner, she lays down her arms and accepts her role in this world. That of a single mother with Australia sized attitude. Armed with sass and a big mouth, she's adorably cute and sinfully sexy at the same time.


"Well, despite my bitterness, I didn’t want to be accepted. I liked to stick out like a sore thumb, a weed in an otherwise picturesque rose garden, and remind them that this town wasn’t all that."


And is now caught the eye of the towns favourite boy, Cruz Costello. The man Fairhope voted to most likely be president.
He has a hard time keeping his eyes or hands off her supposedly. The good doctor apparently has a bad (read:naughty) side. He soon gets pulled irrevocably towards Nessy and things Get Messy.

"I wanted her, but in the same way I wanted four cinnamon rolls. It would feel good to have, but might kill you afterwards."


Leigh's wordplay is on point, it is obvious that she thoroughly enjoyed writing this book. Her sauciness and cheekiness is spilled all over in the form of Nessy. It's been ages since I laughed non stop throughout the book and it wasn't cheesy at all.
It's bold & brilliant narration with tongue in cheek prose, totally enamoured me from start to finish.
Write more in the same vein shen, let's make a series out of it!!
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟6 stars for Tale of Taming Turner
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Profile Image for shereads.pang.
697 reviews157 followers
November 10, 2021
I received an arc for a honest review.


There's something about LJ Shen's standalones that always hit me in the core!!! Bad Cruz was no different. It seriously gave me all the feels. It could be because I'm a sucker for single parent and angsty books, but yes. I shed a few tears. MY HEART!!!!

Now I don't feel like reading anything. I'm still hung up on Cruz. Lol

Full Review.
Tennessee was the screwed up girl in town, and Cruz was the golden boy, doctor in town. Their siblings were going to get married so the families were going on a cruise to get to know one another more. But Tennessee messed up the order for her and Cruz's. They ended up on a different cruise. I love the banter between them so much.

The first few pages, I wasn't sure if I would like Tennessee (Nessy). She was really blunt, and at times really naïve and really insecure. But as I kept on reading, my heart hurts for her!! I won't go into detail to spoil it. AND CRUZ!!!! That MAN!!! That's all I'm going to say. LOL

I NEED MORE of this world!!! The side characters made the story even more interesting. There are some people that I really hope would get a book and redeem themselves. Overall, the book was PHENOMENAL!!! Couldn't get enough of Nessy and Cruz!!! Highly recommend it!!
2 reviews
November 9, 2021
Another spineless LJ heroine *pretends to be shocked*.
I was actually excited by this one, because LJ kept saying this was different from her previous work, but it was the same thing - minus an as*hole hero: doormat heroine, mean family, (practically) virgin heroine, has-slept-with-half-the-town hero...
Even the single mom twist was disappointing because the kid was more often with some other character than with Tennessee. I get the feeling he was just written in as a way to justify the town’s hate for the heroine.
I guess I’ve finally learned my lesson... LJ’s writing is not for me.
Profile Image for Jena .
2,251 reviews2 followers
March 2, 2023
It’s my fault for grabbing a book full of my pet peeves, but I love small town stories with the golden boy falling for the towns stunning outcast, so I thought I’d give it a try, even though I really dislike this author.

I absolutely hated this book, because;

- author tried too hard to be funny, it was just a big cringe.😑 I had second hand embarrassment reading it.

- couple had no chemistry.🤷🏻‍♀️

- hated every character, especially the bimbo h. She said she’s merely acting like a bimbo, no, she really was a big, washed out, airhead/bimbo.
If honey boo boo grew up, she could play this heroine in a movie. Wait no, honey boo boo actually has a spine, this h didn’t.

- also dislike single mom or dad tropes In romance, because what romance is that? 🤷🏻‍♀️ the sons is 13, not even a child.
Not my jam.

-cringy banter. 😑
Profile Image for Vanessa (When Vane Reads).
616 reviews236 followers
November 12, 2021
This story is original, sweet, sexy and entertaining, so hilarious that I laughed out loud and my cat saw me weird, lol so sweet that it caused a swarm of butterflies in my stomach and scorching hot, guau, my tablet almost spontaneously combusted, lol
The characters are so exceptional, I loved Cruz, he is a good boy, so kind and so sexy, I love the way he treats Nessy. And Nessy is so unique and despite her mess, she is a character so brave, strong, so badass, I have a crush on her and I think she is one of my favorite heroines ever. I love them so much!

Their electrifying chemistry is off the charts, their scenes are deliciously hot, I felt their passion through the pages. And the banter is everything!! I want them to go on forever, I love so much their dialogues!! The sarcasm is the best!! Also, I love how Cruz and Nessy help to each other to change and be the version of themselves that they really are, the author portrayed it exquisitely throughout the story.

Bad Cruz is the perfect mix of hilarious moments, deliciously hot scenes, and an emotional edge that will make you swoon, make you laugh out loud, and will leave you grinning from ear to ear and your heart overflowing with happiness.

Versión en Español

Este libro es increíblemente adictivo, no tuve suficiente de los personajes y su historia, definitivamente diferente de otros libros de L.J. pero ¡¡DEMASIADO INCREÍBLE!! Es una historia original, dulce, sexy y entretenida, tan divertida que reí a carcajadas y mi gato me vio raro, jajaja tan dulce que provocó un enjambre de mariposas en mi estómago y tan caliente, guau, mi tableta casi hace combustión espontáneamente
Los personajes son tan excepcionales, me encantó Cruz, es un buen chico, tan amable y tan sexy, me encanta la forma en que trata a Nessy. Y Nessy es tan única y, a pesar de su desorden, es un personaje tan valiente, fuerte, estoy enamorada de ella y creo que es una de mis heroínas favoritas. ¡La amo mucho!
Su química electrizante es fuera de serie, sus escenas son deliciosamente calientes, sentí su pasión a través de las páginas. Quería que sigan por siempre, ¡me encantan sus diálogos! ¡¡El sarcasmo es lo mejor!! También me encanta cómo Cruz y Nessy se ayudan mutuamente a cambiar y ser la versión de sí mismos que realmente son, el autor lo retrató exquisitamente a lo largo de la historia.
Bad Cruz es la combinación perfecta de momentos divertidos, escenas deliciosamente calientes y un borde emocional que te hará suspirar, te hará reír a carcajadas y te dejará con una sonrisa de oreja a oreja y tu corazón rebosante de felicidad.
Profile Image for Keri Loves Books.
1,241 reviews188 followers
November 8, 2021
An enemies-to-lovers, rom-com that takes place in a small town. It's full of snark and funny moments, but also personal struggle and hot chemistry. She's the girl no one wants (other than to torment) and he's the guy who walks on water. The most unlikely of matches, yet they make perfect sense.

Tennessee is a single mom just trying to raise her kid the best she can. Small towns don't let you forget who you were, and being a mom at sixteen has made her the town's pariah. Constantly berated and degraded, she perseveres. She's been beaten down by family, and in some ways she has let them break her spirit. However, she's a spit-fire with everyone else.

Cruz is the beloved doctor in their town. The man can do no wrong. He is the golden boy and considered the most eligible bachelor. Anyone would be lucky to land him...except Tennessee. She wants nothing to do with him.

Unfortunately for these two, their siblings are getting married, so they'll be forced together whether they like it or not. The perfect man and the girl they refer to as Messy Nessy will have to find their common ground. And they just may discover that they have more in common than they imagined.

I was totally torn up for Tennessee. So many villains in this story; the baby daddy, her sister and parents, Cruz's ex-girlfriend. This was tough because I just wanted her to stop taking everyone's crap and stand up for herself. Cruz also needed to man up and defend her to his friends and family. This girl was treated so poorly by everyone around her that I have no idea how she didn't crack.

I wanted more happy moments between Cruz and Tennessee. The poor girl was always fighting just to be left alone rather than ridiculed. She took abuse from strangers, family, and acquaintances. At times it was hard to read. I am definitely conflicted over this one. I would have liked to see Cruz redeem himself more, along with her family as she deserved better.

In the end, she got her HEA, but so many people owed her more. The characters were layered and their was quite a bit of side story going on. It kept my attention because I wanted to see how it played out, but in the end I just wanted more. More happy moments, more acceptance, more from the town to stand up for Tennessee and I wanted the people who wronged her to earn her forgiveness.
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