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Sisterhood Diaries #2

Bending the Rules

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Tall, dark and intense, Detective Jason de Sanges excites all kinds of fantasies in Poppy Calloway. But when she suggests the three teens caught spray-painting a Seattle neighborhood be given art-related community service and he just wants to see them pay—all bets are off.

With the men in his family always in and out of the slammer, Jase was raised in foster care. He knows what it takes to walk the line. And his number one self-imposed rule? Avoid his hunger for sexy, irresistible Poppy, who challenges him on everything. But it's a vow that's getting harder and harder to keep.…

379 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published December 13, 2010

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About the author

Susan Andersen

94 books1,251 followers
I grew up in a household with two brothers, a daddy, and my grandfather. Too many men, in other words. They diluted M'ma's influence by diverting my attention to things like the danger of answering nature's call in the dead of the night. I've got a hint for those of you raised in a less spit-and-scratch world: check before you sit, because chances are that seat is gonna be up. And they don't even have the grace to be embarrassed about it. According to my sweet baby boy, if you're the minority sex in the household, you oughtta be putting it up for them. Sigh.

Having brothers was a mixed bag. When anybody messed with me they were always quick with an offer to beat them up. That was sorta nice, although I personally believe it had more to do with the fact that guys just like to fight than with any towering concern for my welfare. You might think that's cynical but guess who the target was if no one else was around and they were tired of fighting each other? I must've spent half my childhood locked in the bathroom, screaming, "Dad's gonna get you when he gets home." I know, I know, nobody likes a stoolie. But it was either that or have my block knocked off on a regular basis, and trust me, Daddy was the best deterrent going.

A smart woman probably would've gone away to an all-girl school or moved in with some girlfriends at the first opportunity. Me, I got married to my high school sweetie. And the tradition continues. Our only kid (who hasn't been a kid for quite some time now) is the aforementioned sweet baby boy, and except for an Irish setter we had for eleven years a long time ago, even our pets have all been male. I just try to stay afloat whenever I find myself in the deep end of the testosterone pool, and if you don't think that isn't a trial sometimes, I'm here to tell you- it can be hell.

Then again, it can also be heaven. In fact, it mostly is. But listen, don't tell my guys I 'fessed up to that, okay? Trust me, it's difficult enough already, just trying to stay one step ahead of the game.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 136 reviews
Profile Image for Carmen.
2,056 reviews1,856 followers
September 21, 2015
"So why not just relax and see where it takes you?"

"Because she's a good girl!"

"And you're a good boy!" Murphy roared.

"I'm a fucking de Sanges. I quit being a good boy around the time I turned eight."

Okay. This was better than the first book, I think. (Cutting Loose.)

Let's do a quick run-down.

Poppy is an artist and the child of hippies. She draws for a living. She's making it, but you know - tiny apartment, 12-year-old car, etc. She volunteers with at-risk inner-city youth in her spare time, teaching an art class. She's very thin and she's blonde.

Jason, whom we were introduced to in Book 1, is a cop. The Sisterhood refers to him as The Sheikh - comparing him to their childhood/teenaged fantasy of being kidnapped or sold into sexual slavery to a rich and powerful sheikh (a la At the Sheikh's Command, Sheikh's Betrayal, A Sultan's Ransom, Pregnant by the Sheikh, Sold to the Sheikh, etc. etc. - it's a whole romance sub-genre, trust me). They call him this because of his "dark looks" (I have no idea what ethnicity/background this guy has - it's never mentioned. De Sanges sounds French to me, but what the flip do I know?) and rather commanding, icy presence. He comes from a criminal family and thinks that makes him genetically, inherently evil or something.

It was his commanding and icy presence - coupled with the fact that he's a police officer - which made me think I wasn't going to enjoy this novel. The girls' fantasy of being enslaved to a "foreign, exotic" (read: non-American, no, I don't mean non-white (although surely they do), I mean non-American) billionaire has never been one of my personal turn-ons. Rather confused by it, actually, despite Harlequin having a line that deals exclusively with this fantasy (Harlequin Presents), but okay.

ANYWAY. I was expecting some kind of alpha, macho asshole that would be making me very unhappy. However, happily that was not the case. Overall, he was pretty decent. But we had some problems I'd like to address.

1.) He's a bit possessive. He follows her to a bar, glares at every man who approaches her, he looks up her address and shows up at her house. He unilaterally decides he's going to move in with her after the first time they have sex.

Actually, if you are thinking that all this is very bad - it was actually pretty mild. I appreciated Andersen keeping the reins on this "alpha male" garbage. I've read TONS worse than this. Really, it's rather sad that this behavior constitutes "mild" for me, but there you go. As far as "alpha males" go, this guy is pretty lightweight. WHICH IS GOOD. For a lot of female readers this would be a complaint, but with me, it's a compliment. I'd rather he not be an "alpha" at all, but if I absolutely have to put up with asshole behavior, I'd rather it be just a tinge in an overall loving and respectful man, which Jason is. Trust me, I've read so much worse than this. Andersen actually surprised me in a good way by making this guy not a complete asshole.


"I can take care of myself!"

His eyebrows lowered. "Oh, yeah. I can see you're all kinds of tough."

"I'm plenty tough!"

A temper where she was accustomed to seeing a carefully controlled expression snapped in his eyes. "Well, let's test that theory, whataya say? Let's pretend I've just broken in and I've got it in my mind to kill you because - " He shook his head. "Well, we don't really know why, do we? Maybe simply because you're so goddamn stubborn." He narrowed his eyes at her. "But first, I'm going to have a little fun. You might not think it's a whole lot of fun, but, hey, what do I care? I'm a fuckin' psychopath."

*It's at this point Carmen starts praying that the author isn't going where Carmen THINKS she's going with this*

The way he stared at her with flat, dark angry eyes, he looked like a psychopath. Goose bumps ran down her spine and the backs of her thighs. "You're scaring me, Jason," she whispered.

"Why? You're plenty tough, remember? So what are you gonna do?" He feinted at her, and with a burst of fury that he was deliberately trying to frighten her she ran for her tote, with its little canister of pepper spray. He wanted to act like this was real? She'd show him real!

Except, she wasn't tough at all. Hell, she wasn't even fast. She didn't get a full yard away before he swept her feet out from under her. She tumbled to the floor and in a flash he'd dropped down, rolled her over and had her pinned, her wrists stapled by his long hands to the aged fir on either side of her head.

Then they have sex for the first time as a couple. I'm wailing in despair.

Why are you so upset, Carmen? Rape-play -

Oh, no. No, no, no. Don't you fucking call what's going on in this scene rape-play. I can't believe Jason, A POLICE OFFICER, would be doing this. Sexual role-playing is one thing. I don't give a care what two consenting adults do in their bedroom. I really don't. And I'm actually completely fine with a romance book which features people pretending to rape each other, despite what my all-consuming hatred of rapists and my blanching at the thought of BDSM would have you believe. Take Tessa Dare's erotica or Gena Showalter's The Stone Prince. I'm (more or less) fine with what goes on in those novels.

However, those people are people who have discussions about what they are going to do sexually and are in a sexual relationship where both their sexual needs are being met. Everyone's on board, everyone's having a good time. It's for fun. Whether it's YOUR idea of fun is immaterial here, I'm saying it's all consensual and a rather mutual idea.

THIS, on the other hand, has nothing to do with any kind of mutual sexual decision. And the worst thing is that I've met guys who pull this kind of shit. It's not amusing, it's not fun, it's not "educational" or done to "protect you" or any other shit they think it is. It's an EXTREMELY bad idea to be like, "Oh, you think you're tough? I'm going to jump you now, showing how easy it would be to overpower you and rape you."

How can anyone think this is okay? Most especially a POLICE OFFICER? WTF? There's three things I want to address that you should never do as a man who's interacting with a woman.

1.) After being in a situation where you take her home when she's drunk, put her to bed to sleep it off, etc. etc. tell her some version of "Well, I could have raped you, but I didn't." As if you deserve a medal or a cookie or praise or some sort of reward for not raping a helpless and semi-conscious or unconscious female. PLEASE NEVER DO THIS, unless your goal is to skeeve the woman out completely and ensure she'll cross the street every time she sees you coming.

2.) Never make some offer to a woman (unless she's a lover or family member) that you can teach her self-defense and then make comments about how many rapists are out there and how dangerous it is to walk a night and "a girl like you, alone at night, rapists" blah blah blah - again, unless your goal is to scare the crap out of some woman who THOUGHT you were a normal guy but is now convinced you are a huge creeper, and again, will now cross the street in order to avoid you. "But I was just trying to PROTECT her!" Um, no. Unless she's your loved one, this is NOT okay. Thinking of a way to spend time with her or get to know her better that DOESN'T involve you talking to her about rapists or putting your hands on her while teaching her to defend herself against rapists. This is NOT charming or cute. This is NOT a "sweet offer" to make. It's fucking creepy.

3.) As in this book, please never try to overpower a woman or demonstrate how "easy" it would be to rape her unless you are a self-defense instructor and she is in your class of her own free will. I feel RIDICULOUS for having to type this out. I feel like every man should obviously know this is a bad idea and know not to do this, but apparently there's a lot of idiots out there, so I'm typing this out. DO NOT DO THIS. EVER. And, unlike in this novel, no woman is then going to be overcome with lust after this and have sex with you. Actually she's going to make you leave immediately and possibly report you to someone. I can't believe Andersen is making this kind of thing into foreplay. (Again, it would be completely different if it was a mutual fantasy which they had discussed beforehand and were performing because they were both sexually excited and planned to do this. Not him spontaneously jumping her in the kitchen in a fit of temper to prove a point.) This kind of thing is unacceptable. I'd not only never agree to see him again, but I'd be fucking terrified of him after this.

Even though I've never had to personally deal with #3 (I've never dated a guy that stupid), I've dealt with #1 and #2, believe it or not. And the sad thing is, the men who do this kind of shit (some of them, at least) seem genuinely confused that I'm not ecstatic and grateful to them for their generous consideration. o.O So if this review can help any man in any way to avoid scaring the shit out of some woman, I'm happy to have done my part. DON'T DO THIS.

How's the sex, Carmen?
Well, take what I said in the above part into consideration. We also have

And Poppy's thinking processes short-circuited. Feeling his mouth simultaneously firm and soft against her lips, her head reeling with his scent, a frisson of undiluted lust rushed to her brain, filling it with heat that immediately suffused her entire body. She rose onto her toes to get closer, CLOSER to the source, tightening her arms around his neck until she darn near had him in a choke hold, reveling in the press of that long, hard body the entire length of her own. Her lips parted beneath his, her tongue slicked over the silky inner membrane of his lower lip.

I'm pretty sure sentence 3 has a typo in it, not mine but the author's, but that's not my problem. My problem is the author's use of the word "membrane." I'm sorry, membranes are just not sexy. Don't mention them when describing kissing.

And if that weren't enough, later we are dealing with tissues. Yes, tissues.

He knew he was hitting her sweet spot when her eyes lost focus, and he pulled out so slowly he felt the drag of every single millimeter of those slippery tissues trying to retain their clasp on him.

Sexy idea - I can see where she's going with this - but the word "tissues" combined with her earlier use of "membranes" just takes all the sexy right out of this and makes me think I'm in anatomy class, or something.

Those issues aside, the sex is better than it was in the first novel.

How could it possibly be WORSE?

True, very true. Still, nothing to get excited about. I wouldn't read this book for the sex scenes, is what I'm saying.

I love when authors introduce me to a new song or a new band and I'm happy to say that Andersen is responsible for getting me to listen to Zero 7, which is what Poppy listens to in this book. I love discovering new music through books. This is a plus.

Tl;dr - While I think this is overall a better book than the first book in the series, Cutting Loose, I still can't say I'm too impressed. Andersen's strongest areas are character development and plot, but her heroes and sex scenes still leave a lot to be desired.

Profile Image for Mo.
1,351 reviews2 followers
March 13, 2019
Another enjoyable read in this series.

I love how the girls referred to their perfect man as "Mr. Sheik". I think most of us read about the "sheiks" on our romantic travels with books. I went to work in Saudi Arabia many years ago ... I kinda gave up on the "romantic sheik" dream after that! LOL.

Bit of a mystery element to it too... not much.

Profile Image for Leah.
1,006 reviews338 followers
September 21, 2015
July 2011 Review - 3 stars

This is why I don't do rereads, damn it! The book rarely, if ever, is as good as I thought it was the first time around. And, when I read a book more than once, I start noticing little things that annoy the shitskis (I'll get to that in a minute) out of me. Even when I actually still like the book! So, yeah, never doing this again. All I can say is that I was clearly not as discriminating in my reading when I read this the first time. Clearly.

Leah's Observations While Rereading the Book Bending the Rules:

1. There are very stereotypical racial names in this book--Darnell for a Black boy and Emilia for a Latina girl.

2. Jase describes things in the weirdest of ways. Examples: "Subtle sheen of lavender" when talking about Poppy's eye shadow. "But the nape of her neck looked soft-as-a-baby's vulnerable" when creepily talking about Cory, a teenage girl in the program that Jase and Poppy are supervising. "The specks of topaz in her dark brown irises"--enough said? He can apparently tell the difference between bitter, sweet, and semi-sweet chocolate just by looking at it because he knows that poppy's eyes are "bitter chocolate-brown."

3. There are extremely long sentences in the book: As far as he could tell she wasn't wearing a lick of makeup except for maybe some mascara and a lip balm he'd seen her smear over naturally pink lips with a pronounced bow that pulled his gaze like a magnet did metal. Where was the editor?

4. Very unsexy words are used to describe kissing: "membrane." Ew.

5. Susan constantly describes Jase as "bony" (nose, shoulders). Contrary to Susan's belief, this is not sexy.

6. It still pisses me off that Jase runs his life based on his family. Although, this is probably one of the most realistic aspects of the book.

7. The interactions between the three girls (Poppy, Jane, and Ava) are so mushy and lovey. To the point that it's sometimes sickening.

8. Susan has clearly never talked to a real life teenager. I don't know about you, but I don't know any teenagers (especially ones that were born in the 90s like the teens in this book) who say these words: dorkana, studalicious, dap, gamagorgeous, glamourama, coolicious, macadoodledandy. Especially that last one. Studalicious I could maybe see, but macadoodledandy? Yeah, no. Just no.

9. Poppy's nipples are spikes. She must ruin lots of bras.

10. There is a lot of slamming mouths together when kissing. So I must ask: Do they wear mouth guards? Because that shit has to hurt!

11. I hate when authors use the words "omigawd" and "gawd." Just write "omigod" and "God." But, what makes it even worse is that the thirty year old heroine and her friends still say these things, making them sound like a group of pre-pubescent girls. And, to add insult to injury, a man who was at the least in his late sixties, maybe early seventies, said "gawd" towards the end of the book. I am at a loss for words.

12. I have a newfound hatred for the phrase "holy shitskis." New because I have never heard that ridiculous phrase in my life. But, oh, I have now. Because the heroine says it at least once in every damn chapter. And, of course, when she says it, she has to say it at least a minimum of four times in a row.

13. Jase likes to throw his head back when he laughs. That must be hell on his neck. And, Sam, I know how you love when people do that!

14. I actually still love the part where they make up. It's incredibly hilarious.

15. Susanlandia is a scary place.

16. I am actually still looking forward to reading Playing Dirty about Ava and Cade. So I hope it doesn't suck.

17. I am never rereading Burning Up. That's the other book of Susan's that I have loved, and I am never rereading it. I could never handle it if Gabe, the hottie fireman, and Jack, the smoking hot Irish singer, turned out to be ridiculously spastic.

18. I am clearly demented since I bought another of Susan's books when I was at the used bookstore yesterday. Clearly I am a masochist and love torturing myself. But, hey, at least it was only $3.98. Didn't have to pay full price!

December 2009 Review - 5 stars

An intriguing, when-is-he-gonna-go-for-her book. Jase, who has let the lives of the men in his family define his life since he was born, finds an interesting adversary in Poppy, who was raised in a hippie commune. They come together through a project for three teenage taggers, and fall for each other not long after. Though they go through a "rough patch," it all turns out well in the end. This book is a terrific read that will make your toes tingle.
Profile Image for Ⓐlleskelle - That ranting lady ッ.
993 reviews804 followers
March 19, 2019
Reasons why I ended DNF'ing this oldie from 2009 at 71%...

▪︎ "her tongue slicked over the silky membrane of his lower lip"
▪︎ "...his strong tongue flattened against her most intimate tissues."
▪︎ "His thumb slid up and down her furrow"

Beside my lost of interest because of the neglected focus on the romance, the sex scenes lingo really made me feel like I was reading a surgery or veterinary notebook.
I had enjoyed the beginning of the book, I thought I'd be in for some animosity and banter goodness between the main couple with a side mistery plot... Wrong or too high expectations on my part.

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Profile Image for Julie (jjmachshev).
1,069 reviews282 followers
July 20, 2009
"Bending the Rules" is book two in Susan Andersen's 'Sisterhood Diaries' series about three unrelated women who have been best friends since childhood. When their wealthy benefactress dies, her will provides the impetus that eventually sees each woman finding just the right man for her.

Poppy was, and still is, the 'hippie' of the trio. Raised on a commune and the benefits of granola, she uses her talents to work with 'at risk' children. But even she isn't sure how to react when her latest project acquires an overseer...Detective de Sanges. This would be the same man who makes her girly parts not just hum, but break into full operatic arias! If only he wasn't so...by the book...frustrating...really, really HOT.

Jason comes from a family of cons and he's pretty sure the only thing keeping him from the same fate is his devotion to rules and regulations. So when his boss orders him to take part in Poppy's program for some 'good ink', he goes...but not happily. He's already had one run-in with Ms. Liberal and doesn't want another...no matter how smoking hot she is.

I like plots where the main characters are very different, yet manage to find a compromise. The electric attraction between these two almost singed my fingers and Andersen can definitely 'bring the heat' when it comes to love scenes. She also manages to focus on the problems of 'at risk' kids without preaching to the audience and that takes a fairly deft touch.

There were no real stutters or holes in Susan Andersen's latest. My biggest beef was with Jason's refusal to grow past his teen version of his character. There was a time or two when I wanted to smack him upside the head...or was praying that Poppy would! Other than that minor annoyance, it was a very fun read with a good bit of humor.

Profile Image for Aly.
2,327 reviews67 followers
June 14, 2018
Poppy Calloway and Jason de Sanges met only once, during one of the detective's investigation, but it was enough to leave a strong impression on each other. When three teenagers are caught doing graffitis on some business buildings, Poppy propose to their committee to let the kids paint a mural after they'll clean up their tagging. But the young woman never thought her idea of helping the teenagers would backfire on her when she suddenly have to team up with the rigid detective de Sanges. The cop is not thrilled about it either. He likes to play by his own rules and Poppy Calloway is a pain in his ass, a gorgeous one who makes him hot and bothered. They butt heads, can't stand each other but there's this unsettling and undeniable hotter than hell sexual tension between them.

This book was just as awesome as I remembered ! An opposite attracts romance at its best ! On one side we have a smart, perceptive and kindhearted heroine and on the other there's a stiff and grumpy hero who'll quickly realize how wrong he was about his preconceived idea about her. She'll teach this "all work, no play" man that sometimes it's okay to bend the rules. So the title is perfect and I must say that I really love this cover too ;p Susan Andersen made Jason's rudeness work and even a part of the character's charm.

There's just one detail that annoyed me and it was how Jason never stopped thinking that his genes made him a bad risk. And I have a hard time understanding why he was so against giving the teenagers a second chance when he was lucky enough to have one when he was about their age ? This book not only present you an amazing romance but there's also the POV of one of the teens and it's also the story about adults who care about teenagers and give them the time and attention they need to build confidence in themselves. The scenes with Poppy and Jason when they are working with the teens are just as interesting as the romance.

One of my favorite book by this author and a keeper for sure :) If you're searching for a fun book, Bending the Rules is my suggestion to you ;p
Profile Image for Splage.
594 reviews372 followers
January 27, 2012
2.5 stars. Read the first 100 pages, very average, skimmed a lot after that. I feel like I am cleaning house of all these books I have had forever and nothing appeals to me. Damn you Kristen Ashley:)
Profile Image for Jenn.
330 reviews27 followers
January 18, 2013

My thoughts exactly... This book flat out sucked! I kept checking the spine to make sure it was an adult romance novel.

Remember the Sweet Valley High book series? If not, let me refresh your memory... It was a couple of teenage girls who have teenage girl giggle fests, and have teenage puppy love romances. Yea, that is EXACTLY what Bending the Rules was like. It was so frustrating!

The book focused so much on the crime and the situation with the kids that there really was no story between Poppy and the cop. Overall, crappy writing, crappy characters, crappy story.

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Profile Image for Cyndi.
2,338 reviews97 followers
January 17, 2019
Good story! Our heroine is an artist who wants the whole world to find and express the art of their soul.
Our hero is a practical policeman who must protect her while trying to avoid falling in love with her free spirit.
Profile Image for Jocelyn No.
122 reviews
July 7, 2009
...this author was on my auto-buy list. I think she's moving to my skim-at-the-bookstore list.

The plot for this book is solid. I love a good contemporary that doesn't get bogged down in idiot characters or motivations. Susan Anderson is always good for that. But her language choice is has officially crossed the line from "charming colloquialisms" to "irritating and dated." All the dialog is written in language that makes it sound like baby boomers are doing the talking. For god's sake, the hero calls the heroine a "hot tomatah." I'm not that young, and I think that sounds old.

Also, there are teenagers in this book, and their "slang" is from 20 years ago. And they call the hero "Detective De S." What? Short for De Sanges, I get it, but who would shorten a last name like that and still use "detective," not to mention that sounds more awkward to say than his whole last name.

Recommended for baby boomers who might not notice dated language and unrealistic teenagers.
Profile Image for Snigdha Prakash.
823 reviews97 followers
October 6, 2014
Bending the Rules is a sweet story of opposites attract. The author has a sweet knack of weaving a sweet..innocent story if not a good then at least an interesting thriller.. The one exactly like a reader would love.

The story starts with Jase and Poppy butting heads with each other and having misconceptions about one another.. I seem to fall in love with books that have leads as Poppy..but, oh well..

So by some twist of fate, they end up spending time together and thus, their journey begins.

Though, the writing style was a bit slow in the beginning and I kinda got bored the...but it more than made up for it afterwards.. This is a story you might like to savour in your mind long after you've finished. It is sweet and innocent in parts and then goes ahead and deals with difficult subjects with the same ease.

Jason and Poppy's relationship is a sweet one ..something that makes you laugh and feel warm. It isn't perfect but it's pretty close to it. The secondary characters are fun to read and you wonder about their story as well..
All in all..a great job by the author..
Profile Image for ElaineY.
2,119 reviews68 followers
September 30, 2009
Another enjoyable read from Andersen, though not quite 5 stars. I would have liked a little more tension between Poppy and Jason but it's still a minor want.

Sparks fly between the two when they meet and not just the sexual kind. Jason has his preconceptions about Poppy while she has decided he's the guy in her Sheikh fantasies. I guess I don't mind the way their romance developed as it's a nice change to be able to move from attraction to a slight bump then onto consummation smoothly without all that drama.

BTR is a light, fun, romantic read that's perfect when you don't feel like something more emotional or angsty.
April 10, 2015
Poppy: I only have a few words for you - you go girl! and I love you!

If only more female characters were like this - independent, strong, emotionally available and most of all honest and courageous about life and truth, what a wonderful role model for young women and girls everywhere.

As much as I want to sucker punch Jason in the face, I get where he is coming from - and it was worth the pain/angst because the ending was super romantic and sexy.

Susan Anderson is my more emotional Jill Shalvis read - although she is has more hits in the asswipe-for-heroes category. Nevertheless - this is a solid read and I am glad I did read it :)
Profile Image for Jim son of Jim (formerly PhotoJim).
604 reviews107 followers
May 2, 2010
I really enjoyed this one. Bleeding heart do-gooder liberal meets conservative straight laced cop. I liked the tagger side stories. I didn't read the first in the series, but I'm likely to after this one. The third in the series is not out yet, but I'll definitely pick that one up.
1,153 reviews14 followers
March 6, 2017
I'm going to have to put this book down, I just have a gut instinct that it's going to suck. I finished reading a tenth of the book and I just don't have enough confidence in the writing. There is too much repetitive dialogue that basically amounts to, "I'm inexplicably attracted to him/her." It just comes across as lacking in substance and I'm not particularly interested in reading that.

The story revolves around Poppy and Jason. Poppy is an art instructor and came up with the idea of helping troubled youth. However, the plan was shut down by the police officer, who had a troubled youth in his past. He didn't agree with Poppy's reformation ideas and persuaded other business owners to vote against her idea. Poppy related the event to her friend, who had lofty connections. This led to Jason's boss basically forcing him to go along with the program. He wasn't keen to do so because he felt he was being taken away from more important matters. He went to Poppy's to give her a piece of his mind. There was this cringeworthy scene of Poppy hugging him and calling him daddy. I decided to stop reading at this point. For good measure, I checked out its goodreads rating to see if it was just a rough start. The one star rating at the top indicates that I am in good company, with regards to my opinion of the book. Hence, it will be in the DNF pile.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
1,475 reviews83 followers
June 23, 2016
BENDING THE RULES: Vandals to Artists

Audiobook provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.

I really enjoyed this book and the voice of the narrator but, if you want to order it, and play it on anything besides a player where you physically insert and play each disc, you seriously want to consider the download versus the CDs. The formatting of the nine compact discs comprising the ten hour discs requires that you download each disc, and then relabel them so they will play in sequence on I-Tunes/I-Books. It seemed like it took 4 hours to do this.

But if you are listening to a walkman or on a cd-player, or maybe a computer hard-drive or dvd player you’re all set.

About the story: While the circumstances of the characters friendship and inheritance are just a little contrived, the friendship is pretty nice to read as they women both support and help each other. On the dude side of the novel, Jason’s mentor does the same thing. I was hooked by Poppy’s work with, and advocacy for, at-risk youths through art programs. Hey – I was a fundraiser/board member of a program for at-risk youths and I paint – so this theme always captures my attention.

This is book two, but the prologue sets it up for minimal info-dumping and less confusion. The only reference I didn’t understand, until I saw the “diaries” label again, was that the benefactress of the “Sisterhood” gave them diaries.

The one trope I really disliked was the “genetically programmed to be bad” theme employed for Jason’s feelings about why he can’t be in a real relationship. While all the evidence in his life points to his innate decency he still thinks he is “flawed” and could never deserve the love of someone good. This is employed too much in romantic fiction and in this case it is especially off point as his male relatives are criminals and not apparently bad to women.

The narrator’s voice is great and her male character-voices are great: gruff, deep and distinct without sounding like a bunch of hooligans. The women and other characters also get distinct voices. Poppy’s voicing is sweet and sexy and the teen-agers in the book sound younger without coming off as total idiots.

It’s obvious from the start who is going to be into whom in the story and the attraction is set up as early as the prologue. The hooks ups are off the chart hot.

I think I can recommend this to any woman who likes to read a little dirty dancing through the streets and the sheets!
Profile Image for Patti TheLoveJunkee.
715 reviews150 followers
December 9, 2009
Poppy Calloway had two best friends as a child. They grew up inseperable, although their socioeconomic backgrounds were not the same. Once again, I unknowingly picked up the 2nd book in a series. I liked this book and will be going back for the first book, Cutting Loose. I found out today at Book Binge that Harlequin will not be publishing the 3rd book in the series, and all I can say is, WTF?

Poppy is on the neighborhood business board, and there was some vandalism by young spraypainters (taggers). The board is trying to decide if they want to press charges or not as the offenders are first-timers. The police officer the board invites to the discussion is Jason deSanges, who Poppy can't stand. He assisted them in the first book, and she finds him abrasive and rude. When Poppy wants to have the kids clean the damage and give them a wall to do art on, Jason disagrees. After a vote, it ends up that the kids will clean and have a wall, but Poppy and Jason will supervise to make sure they do a good job and don't get into trouble.

The three taggers are not thrilled but agree in order to escape having a police record. The night before they're supposed to begin, one of the taggers, Cory, witnesses a mob-sanctioned robbery. When she does her tagging, Cory dresses like a boy, so she hopes the mobster will be looking for a boy, not her. Cory's past has lead her to not trust the police, so she does not tell anyone what she witnessed.

Working with the kids is bringing Poppy and Jason closer. He's not as hard-ass as she originally thought and is actually good with the kids. He fights the attraction, as he was a foster-system child and doesn't think he's capable of love and knows Poppy is the kind of woman who deserves to be loved.

The story was interesting, told from Poppy's, Jason's, Corey's, and the mobser's point of view. The interconnecting storylines were good and I liked the characters. I felt like at one point Poppy and Jason moved a bit quickly, but honestly, in this day and age I think that might happen quite a bit in real life too. Her interactions with her two girlfriends was fun too, but the main focus was Poppy and Jason and Poppy and the kids. Normally I find kids in books annoying but these kids were part of the plotline and did not put me off at all.

I'd give this book 3 1/2 stars.
Profile Image for Jill Dunlop.
419 reviews26 followers
June 11, 2010
Poppy Calloway is a free spirited artist with impulse issues and has the tenacity of a bulldog. She has the brilliant idea to have the three teens clean up their mess when they are caught vandalizing local businesses with graffiti. Being a local community volunteer, she agrees to work on this project with the teenagers. Detective Jason de Sanges has been assigned to oversee the project, as well. He is the exact opposite of Poppy with his surely disposition and dour countenance. His and Poppy's personality's clash as they struggle with their physical attraction. Meanwhile, there has been a string of robberies and one of Poppy's teenagers accidentally witnessed it.

Bending the Rules was just an average read for me. I thought the set up had true promise, as I really enjoy the opposites attract theme. I did like Poppy's spirited personality and I loved that she drove a battered station wagon, but she did have some TSTL (too stupid to live) moments. At one point Poppy even refers to what she is doing as "too stupid to live". Just because she admits to it, doesn't make it any less stupid. As a matter of fact, it makes it even dumber because she knows she shouldn't be doing it! On a positive note, I did enjoy Poppy's interaction with the teenagers and her two girlfriends Jane and Ava (who each will have their own books).

Jason was stuffy and he kept harping on his family's background in which all the de Sanges men seem destined for a life of crime. Even though Jason has led an exemplary life, keeping to a strict code of conduct he still thinks that he is one step away from slipping up. This means that Poppy, who he deems a "good girl", is not for the likes of him. The whole book he tries to keep Poppy at arm’s length. He tries to keep emotionally distant from her and continually lies about his feelings for her. Only external conflicts keep him moving his relationship forward with Poppy. This bordered on the annoying side. I wish he could have come to the conclusion of his feelings for Poppy on his own terms instead of forcing them on him as a result of the danger Poppy faces. As it currently stands, I found the ending trite and unconvincing. To make matters worse the ending/epilogue was super sappy.
Profile Image for Jo Reads Romance.
833 reviews50 followers
January 26, 2021

Another fabulous romance
5 stars

This is the second in Susan Andersen's Sisterhood Diaries trilogy that follows three friends, Jane, Poppy and Ava. This book does stand alone although I would still recommend Jane's story in the first book in the series Cutting Loose .

There are lots of characters in the book and although we do focus on more than just the main couple, it's definitely Poppy and Jase that capture your attention. Jase is such a man's man - sexy, dangerous and tough but with a real need for the love of a good woman. Poppy is a real woman to aspire to. She's sweet, feisty, loyal and perfect for Jason. The pair had chemistry to make your stomach flip over and the whole book was sexy, fun and upbeat.

There is a slight suspense element to this book but it isn't the whole point to the story and it's not scary or violent.

There's also a side story linked to said suspense, that focuses on three slighty wayward/troubled teens. As someone who doesn't much care for children of any kind in my romances, I actually really enjoyed all of them, how they interacted with Poppy, Jase and each other. A surprisingly enjoyable addition.

Susan Andersen always manages to write books that really make you feel good. There are wonderful characters, hot sex and a great plot and this book is no exception. Definitely recommended and worth 5 stars.

Profile Image for Wendy.
252 reviews36 followers
November 21, 2010
I am really enjoying SA's writing. She is a new author to me, and so far I have enjoyed her a lot. She is great at creating characters that you love and love to hate.

Jason de Sanges is a cop that isn't happy to have to be pulled fromm what he feels are important cases to look into something for some silly women that had an in with the mayor. When he is later called to sit in on a meeting of local buisness people who have had a problem with some local graffiti tagers, he is disgusted to find the beautiful women that he had met before is on the committee and not only doesn't want the buisiness people to press charges, she wants them to let her help the children clean up their mess and then allow them to create a mural on the side of one of the buildings. Are you kidding?

Poppy Calloway isn't exactly happy to see the stern detective that she and her friends had met a sew weeks before. She has secret imaginings about him and she and her friends call him the "Sheik", but he is way to uptight for her. Being brought up for part of her life in a commune she isn't exactly main stream. But now that he is assigned to help her with the kids and their clean up she isn't sure how well this is going to go. But Jason surprises her with his insight into the kids and how he interacts with them.

When one of the kids is identified by a man robbing a jewelry store, and is in danger, Poppy and Jason try to protect the girl, but also find that their attraction for each other is too strong to ignore. But can Jason allow himself to fall for Poppy? Or will he let his family and their past get into the way?

This was a fresh and intriguing book that I give 4 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Laura.
314 reviews1 follower
June 29, 2009
3 1/2 to 4 stars
2nd in the Sisterhood Diaries.
I read this book without having read the first in the series Cutting Loose Sisterhood Diaries 1. This was not a good idea for the setup/beginning of the book. Although I had no problems liking the Poppy and Jason or understanding their relationship, there was a lot about the Wolcott Mansion and what went on in the first book with Jane. Jason and Poppy must have first met in the first book, but I wouldn't know since I didn't read it. Although the story itself was stand-alone, the interactions with the Sisterhood (Poppy, Jane, and Ava) were not. Plus, it is obvious that Ava's story is set up in this book (a short scene with someone from high school).
Okay, with that being said, I really did enjoy this book. It did have some cliches in it (boy doesn't think he is good enough, girl does stupid things that could get her killed, teenage attitude), but they worked. In some cases, there was some making fun of the cliches. I didn't quite care for some of the teenage lingo, but then again, I'm not really up on it to know if it was correct or not. Some of it just got a little annoying after a while.
A good book with an interesting story about troubled teenage kids and the people who help them. There are also a couple of steamy sex scenes.
I'm going to go back and read the first in the trilogy and wait for the last to be released.
Profile Image for Jess M..
556 reviews358 followers
February 29, 2016
Read this review on my blog! --> Bending the Rules by Susan Andersen

I was completely excited to start Bending the Rules after finishing Cutting Loose. This group of girlfriends was too fun not to continue with their stories.

Poppy was this fun, carefree, caring spirit that was completely opposite to Jason’s rigid, no-nonsense personality. I loved seeing them butt heads over so many things. But one thing that wasn’t a problem for them was their attraction to one another. If there was anybody that was going to break Jason out of his shell it was definitely going to be Poppy. But even though Jason acted oh-so-cold on the outside, he was like this caged alpha male on the inside, full of passion that Poppy DEF did not anticipate. He does not like this part of himself, and would very much prefer to never let it show, but Poppy just won’t let that happen. They’re certainly combustible, those two together.

This story also had a more suspenseful storyline than Cutting Loose. The threat was more real and more dangerous, with all those gangsters and guns. I also continued to enjoy Susan Andersen’s writing in this one. The pacing was perfect for this plot, it just moved forward without a hitch. The characters are strong and very well fleshed out.

So now, I���m super excited to read the next in this series, Playing Dirty, because the characters have a not so great history and I can’t wait to see them fight it out!! :D
Profile Image for Andrea.
24 reviews46 followers
July 9, 2014
The problem I have with this book, taking away one star by the way, could very well be a problem of my kindle edition. The people who created the layout of this clearly didn't look it over when they thought "Hey, let's make it an e-book!" which - at least to me - is a big deal. I might be a little nit-picky about stuff like this, but it just really compromises my reading experience. Normally, the chapters – presumably - start with the first letter a little bigger than the rest. So far so good, but in the kindle edition all the letters are the same size, but the space a bigger font creates is still there. So chapters start like "S O WHAT DO YOU THINK?" or "W HAT THE HELL IS he doing here?" Which by itself wouldn't be fatal, but there is other stuff that happens far too frequently: spaces missing. Especially around dashes (if that's what they're called, I'm not that firm on the terminology here, I just know it annoys me to no end) To give you an example... "she'd feared Poppy and de Sanges-a man none of them had even met" Now, if that happened once, I wouldn't care, but that is every freaking time she uses this kind of parentheses. Which gets really confusing if she goes on with one of those hyphenated run-on-words.

Apart from that, I like the book. I like the story and the way she tells it, so if the thing weren't so badly formatted I would add another star, but this is just like heaps of grammatical mistakes, it just really impedes my reading experience.
Profile Image for Amanda.
202 reviews22 followers
July 4, 2016
This is the second book in the Sisterhood Diaries series by Susan Andersen. This book was so amazing. Poppy by far is the all time best character ever written. I loved the tension between Jason and Poppy. I will admit at first I wasn't a very big fan of Jason and around page 99 I seriously doubted weather or not he could turn it around. I was nervous this might be the book to disappoint me. IT WASN'T. I fell in love with him right along side Poppy. I started having my own Sheik Dreams. These two characters were so different and yet so wonderful. They molded together and it was almost seamless. This is my favorite of the series there is no mistaking that. I know I haven’t read the third one yet but I just know and yes maybe I will eat my words but we will see. There is only one complaint and that’s to do with Cory and Danny. Cory liked Danny and I am pretty sure Danny liked her back and even though you picked up the vibes and someone if was told from Cory’s point of view it never went anywhere after that. I was little saddened we didn’t get to see that young love bloom if you will. Other than that I can’t wait till the next book is out and I’m pretty sure this one is going to be a doozey if you judge by the sneak peak you get with Ava. One other thing is it just me or would any one else like to see Finn get a HEA?
Profile Image for Siany.
450 reviews15 followers
January 1, 2012
Wow! I am zooming through this series.
After reading Cutting Loose yesterday I couldnt wait to pick this one today and I didn't put it down :)

I was intrigued by Detective Jason de Sanges from the previous book and looked forward to reading his story. The same goes for Poppy who comes across as smart, but fiercely strong and independent.

Well....Jason was a fab male lead, he got a bit annoying in the end when he was all "i dont know how to love" when it was clearly obvious he did. I would have liked a bit more background on him rather than just the fact his whole family practically live in prison but overall he was one hot male hero.
I quite liked Poppy too, but like another reviewer has pointed out the way she spoke got a bit annoying and all of the "GAWD" etc but maybe its just me, i'm not American, maybe this is how some American's talk...?

I don't think I liked this more than Cutting Loose but I certainly didnt like it any less. Was a great middle book and now next on my list is Playing Dirty and I cannot wait to read Ava's story as I am thoroughly intrigued by Cade Gallari her love interest.
240 reviews
June 17, 2014
The romance itself was the poorest part of this book for me.

Poppy's project is to bring art to kids from dysfunctional and poor backgrounds. Jase is a by-the-book cop. These two met in the previous book and clashed. Poppy belongs to some sort of merchants board that is trying to decide what to do with 3 teenagers that were caught tagging the walls. Jase is sent to the meeting by his boss and eventually forced to help Poppy in her plan to have the kids clean up their mess and then channel their artistic streaks to the painting of a mural.

I really enjoyed the story of the kids, the tagging and the suspense plot with Cory and the robberies. And there was one chapter that set up the couple for the next book (Ava and Cade) that really makes me want to read their story. For me these were the good points of this book.

Poppy and Jase? Boring as all hell, lots of lustful inner monologues, a really stupid reason by Jase as to why he can't get involved and lots of erect members at inopportune moments.

Profile Image for Julie Barrett.
8,174 reviews144 followers
February 18, 2023
Bending the Rules by Susan Andersen
The ladies are painting Agnes Walkett's house as she's taken them under her wing.
Giving back allows them all to gain inner peace.
Poppie is doing posters and greeting cards when she catches the teens defacing the town walls.
She wants them to do community service. This follows the sisterhood and their lives.
Jason approaches the task of what the teens should do from a different angle.
They compromise and get so much more from the teens.
Besides he as a detective he has many resources to help him solve the problem of the jewelry heists, and along with her they can talk to the kids and find out the information they need to solve it.
The sexual tension they have about one another leads them each to discuss the problem with their respective friends...
The mystery of who is after one of the teens comes to light as they join forces to help her get out of her problems.
It also draws them closer as they solve it together..
Profile Image for Willow Brook.
389 reviews28 followers
August 1, 2009
A weak 3 stars mainly, because 2 stars feels like a D and I'm an easy grader. Way too much introspection going on in this book. The hero, Jase, going on and on in his head about how he isn't worthy of/right for Poppy who went on (but not on and on, she quit sooner) in her head about how what a jerk Jase is, though they are incredibly attracted to each other. Even the bad guy was conflicted for Pete's sake. Not that conflicted is necessarily bad in a book but I find it a drag if that is the majority of the story.

The pace of the story was leisurely until right at the end when there was both action and some suspense. I did want to see how it all turned out for Poppy, Jase and the troubled teens they were helping. In the end, eveyone's conflict was resolved one way or the other. The characters were likable (other than the bad guy) but the story was disappointing overall.
Profile Image for Stacy.
183 reviews4 followers
July 27, 2009
Fast read. Started it in the morning and kept coming back to it throughout the day. I got this book from my sister, who loves her smutty romance- and boy was this one smutty. But the main characters had a palpable chemistry and I was thrilled when the finally got together.

It has been a while since I have read romances though- they now apparently practice safe sex. Huh.

Also, could have done without the swearing. I guess my virgin ears were ringing.

Poppy (yeah her parents were hippies in a commune) takes an immediate dislike to Detective Jase de Sanges when he comes to investigate a theft at 'her' mansion. Wait, is that dislike, or desire? Either way, she is determined to stay as far away from him as she can, until the Mayor places him on a Teen Art committee with her.
Profile Image for Nancy.
564 reviews16 followers
February 1, 2015
I generally like this author but I just reread this book and I wonder why I kept it. This one is not nearly as good as her others. There is way too much unnecessary profanity, particularily after she is so emphatic that the teenagers not used it out of "respect" for each other. Obviously, she and her friends have no respect for each other. However, in one place, she uses the term "muttered obsenity". After using the graphic obsenities she used throughout the book, this phrase is ridiculous. Also, the use of slang is distracting and, in my opinon, does not add to the story. The hero's obsession with his family history of crime, passed down from his grandfather, father and brother, are irritating. He should have grown way past that by this time in his life. It sounds like an excuse to not commit to me.
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