Review: Stepbrother Dearest by Penelope Ward

You’re not supposed to want the one who torments you.

When my stepbrother, Elec, came to live with us my senior year, I wasn’t prepared for how much of a jerk he’d be.

I hated that he took it out on me because he didn’t want to be here.
I hated that he brought girls from our high school back to his room.
But what I hated the most was the unwanted way my body reacted to him.

At first, I thought all he had going for him were his rock-hard tattooed abs and chiseled face. Then, things started changing between us, and it all came to a head one night.

Just as quickly as he’d come into my life, he was gone back to California.

It had been years since I’d seen Elec.

When tragedy struck our family, I’d have to face him again.

And holy hell, the teenager who made me crazy was now a man that drove me insane.
I had a feeling my heart was about to get broken again.

The internet has been going crazy over this book and my curiosity could no longer be denied after a couple of days, so I had to read it. Honestly I was a bit wary of this one. The title and the synopsis to me screamed of forbidden romance, lot's of alpha behaviour, a guy being a complete jackass and a girl who gets hurt time and time again, but keeps coming back. What I got was definitely something different.

The story is told in two parts. One when both our main characters are seventeen and the second part takes place seven years later. When Elec and Greta first meet they both now they're in trouble. She was looking forward to have a cool older brother and maybe having him look out for her. What she got was a smoking hot arrogant and at times crude guy living across from her in the hallway. He was hellbent on hating his stay with his dad and while he did everything he could to keep Greta at a distance, the girl got behind his defences and under his skin.

There was so much Greta didn't know about Elec, mostly what had happened between him and his dad. Which was the biggest motivation for his horrible behaviour. Still there were moments when she got to see this other side of him, it's just his dad that brings out the worst in Elec. Greta falls for him hard and Elec knows this. She isn't one to act on her feelings, but when he comes knocking on her door, she isn't kicking him out.

Seven years later and they haven't spoken since that last night. It's tragedy that places Greta and Elec back under the same roof and it's killing both of them. Greta has finally admitted that she isn't really over him, but it looks like Elec has moved on. Slowly we get to know what has happened in the past seven years and even before that for Elec. He has stayed away for a reason, and seeing Greta now again, being so close to her, Elec will need to face his feelings and make a choice.

While there is a little bit of that forbidden element in the story, I was pleasantly surprised how little of an issue this was. I really was afraid that it was going to be all about that. That they couldn't be together, because they're somewhat family even though they're absolutely not blood relatives. That wasn't really the case, there were plenty of other issues that kept Greta and Elec separated.

Penelope Ward has written an amazing story that just sucks you in completely. Greta and Elec are two very special characters in their own. Even though it's told from Greta's point of view, my connection with Elec felt stronger somehow. The way this book is written, it pulls you in and won't let go until that very last page. Elec was never a bad guy, no matter how little he thought of himself. He was just a rebellious teenager and I don't feel like he made any wrong decisions at that time. The same with Greta. She's a good, normal girl who's step brother turned out to be this amazing guy. Some would call that lucky and others unfortunate. I say it is what it is and never hold back. This was a story where I expected things to stay pretty superficial and cliché, but got so much depth and unexpected twists. It's now definitely one I very highly recommend.


Buy book: Amazon - Kindle

The Author
Penelope Ward is a USA Today Bestselling author.

She grew up in Boston with five older brothers. She spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor, before switching to a more family friendly career.

Penelope lives for reading books in the new adult genre, coffee and hanging out with her friends and family on weekends.

She is the proud mother of a beautiful 10-year-old girl with autism (the inspiration for the character Callie in Gemini) and a 8-year-old boy, both of whom are the lights of her life.

Penelope, her husband and kids reside in Rhode Island.

Connect with Penelope Ward:


  1. I bought this book not long ago based on a friend's review. Sounds like you enjoyed it as much as she did! It's such a nice surprise when you go into a book expecting it to be superficial and find something much deeper there!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction