Review: ★The Rules★ by Elizabeth Brown

Review-The RulesThe Rules
Series: Off-Limits #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy
Author: Elizabeth Brown
Release Date: February 2, 2015add-to-goodreads-button-2


An older-brother’s-best-friend romance

When you’re a guy, the rules are simple. Live by the Bro Code:
Rule #1: Always have his back.
Rule #2: Don’t ever leave him stranded.
Rule #3: Never, ever, touch his sister.

Aw, hell. Two out of three ain’t bad.
Warning: This story contains mature humor, a lot of cursing, and of course, sexual situations. It’s intended for adult readers who enjoy that kind of thing.


Lambo and Ainsley’s story.
Dual POV with no cliffhanger.
Book 2 in The Off-Limits series. Standalone- but you’ll enjoy it more if you read Book 1.


Review2 Stars

WARNING. Unpopular Opinion alert and plenty of spoilers to follow.
I typically try to abstain from any and all spoilers in my reviews, but it really can’t be helped here. So if you don’t want to know, please don’t read. You’ve been warned.
Please remember…
And this is just mine. So do take this with a grain of salt. I’m the only one of my GR friends that didn’t enjoy this. I’d suggest you read it and judge for yourself. That noted, let’s move on to the review, shall we?

So…The Rules. This was my first book by this author and while I enjoyed her writing style, there were a few key points in the plot that were HUGE triggers for me personally. I absolutely hated the way that they were addressed and sadly that colored my entire perception of the book. As in I barely forced myself to finish it. Now maybe you’re thinking I’m too picky. Maybe you’re thinking it’s something else
And maybe I am, and maybe I do. But allow me to break it down for you.

1. The hero
I had a really hard time taking him seriously. Typically I love me the manwhores, and Lambo was certainly that. But the man is in his early 30’s but he talks like a 19 year old frat boy. It was too much. Only time a hero was able to pull off internal monologue like that was Drew from Tangled. This one, unfortunately, did nothing for me.

They call me Lambo, or Lam for short.
However, I guess if we’re being accurate, they don’t just say it- they moan it. Usually while my dick’s in their mouth. And before you judge me, it’s there because they were fucking begging for it.

Maybe it was the ridiculous name/nickname? I don’t even know…

Most chicks wanted it in the back of a car or against the bathroom door, with me pulling on their hair and calling them a little slut as I doled out so many orgasms their brains practically dissolved into nothing.
That, friends, is how Lambo Christie rolls when it comes to sex.

2. The heroine.
Couldn’t connect with her for the life of me.

3. The dialogue.

Fuck, Ains, who’d have thought Ryan’s little sister had such oral talents?”

I’m sorry, but the woman just blew you and your first thought after that is to bring her brother’s name up post coitus? Seriously?

Now aforementioned aside, I could have moved past all that. The book had a humorous and witty aspect to it in addition to the fluffy smut. But here was the kicker that ultimately completely ruined it for me…
The completely flippant and blasé matter that the author chose to handle sexual abuse and bipolar disorder.

Look, I don’t mind reading that subject matter in books, so long as it’s handled properly and not glossed over for the sake of the story. Allow me to explain.

The heroine is sexually abused by her father from the age of 5-12. She’s in therapy, but her biggest concern is her vaginismus. (Yes that’s a thing. I had to google it). Basically due to her remnants of the sexual abuse and the anxiety stemming from that, her vagina fists up tighter than a virgin’s asshole whenever a peen gets within a 5 mi radius. She’s desperate to fix herself of this and so she tries out one peen after another, hoping to find that one magical peen that will be the cure to her “issue”. Now did you happen to get stuck on the sexual abuse thing? Because I sure did.

See the story begins with the heroine as a 16 year old, attending her brother’s college graduation party. At said party, she sees one of her brother’s friends that she knows. He doesn’t recognize her. But the chemistry between them is so hot, it takes mere seconds for them to begin making out and for his hands to be up her skirt. Now let’s go back to the fact that 1. She’s freaking 16, and 2. The sexual abuse. *cue raised eyebrow*

The story itself takes place 8 years after this, but my bias already kicked in. The heroine has a sexual abuse past as a child and she’s suffering from bipolar disorder. However, the completely blasé way that she describes all this was mind boggling to me.
heroine’s internal monologue referring to her brother

He’s always overestimated how sensitive and damaged I am, which is ironic, given that he doesn’t even know the extent of anything with my dad. Nope, he thinks I’m this delicate suicidal flower, when really I just suffer from bad luck. Yes, I am bi-polar, but my meds keep it under control for the most part. He thinks I keep trying to kill myself, but nothing could be farther from the truth. I don’t want to die.
Okay, maybe I did when I was younger. I say maybe because I honestly can’t remember, I’ve blocked out so much. I know I used to cut. Lots of kids do, and they do it as a cry for help, for attention.

Pause here
Side note: Cutting for attention? Seriously? At this point my brain almost exploded. First of all, this is such a bigger issue than it’s made to be because this is certainly not something kids do for attention. As a matter of fact, most times they go to great lengths to hide it. It’s a way of finding relief for being unable to deal with internal pain. It’s a cry for help, an internal one, but it sure as hell isn’t one for attention. I volunteer with a group of sexual abuse victims and some of them dealt with depression but not one of them cut for attention. Not. One.
end pause

…I really don’t think that’s why I was doing it, though. I just…enjoyed the feeling. The rush that came with it. Marv and I have discussed it at length and decided it was probably related to the fact that I was on so many medications at the time. I felt clouded, numb, and I hate feeling like that. Cutting took all that away…

Marv is her therapist by the way. She also at one point says this in reference to him as she’s discussing sex with Lambo during one of their “sessions”

Poor Marv. Despite our history, I could tell sex talk still made him a little uncomfortable. I guess I couldn’t blame him, I mean, we’d known each other for so long, and he’d seen me grow up- it was almost like he was an uncle or something.

Hold up. Let’s touch on this for a hot second here. Your therapist who you are seeing for bipolar disorder and sexual abuse in your past visibly shows discomfort while discussing sex. And he’s more like your uncle because you’ve been seeing him for so long? With all due respect, what therapist worth his salt would allow himself to be seen as anything other than the professional that he is. And to be visibly uncomfortable discussing sex with a sexual abuse victim? Seriously?!

Now this is a hot button subject for me, because I was sexually assaulted as a child myself. So seeing this matter be glossed over in the way that it was just didn’t sit right with me. I felt it had no place in a rom-com smutty read. And if it so happened that it did come up, then perhaps it should have been approached in a much different matter.

Did the heroine really need to have all those issues? Bipolar, sexual abuse, vaginismus. Not to mention the hero had some stuff from his past and then had a version of mommy dearest as the icing on top.

All of this was mostly approached as a “it happened but it’s all good” sort of way. What kind of message does that send? This flippant way of handling sexual abuse like it’s no big deal is making readers desensitized to the subject and that’s not ok. A woman gets raped, molested, and then blinks and everything is all good? Just a little therapy cures everything? It’s just something that happened to her? That it’s just a regular occurrence for a female? I implore you, authors, to treat this with the respect that it truly deserves. Don’t merely use it as a plot device to write a “damaged” heroine.

Clearly with my personal trigger at work here, I couldn’t move past all this. I didn’t appreciate the way it was handled and I certainly didn’t buy it.

Would I read future books in this series? Perhaps. I don’t like to judge an author based on one book alone, but I’d be lying if I said this book didn’t already form a bias in my mind. I will give this series one more shot and see what happens.


  1. So, I just finished Th Lesson and had decided to not go on because I knew I’d have troubles with the heroine. You’ve just confirmed my fears. Thanks love 🙂

  2. You know the part that really haunted me? When she talks to her brother and he just learned about what happened to her as a child, but he goes over to his best friend/sister’s current boyfriend, and starts laughing?!?!?! I mean… WTF??
    He was freaking out because he found out his manwhore best friend was dating his little sister and he was super protective.
    But then he just learned how she was sexually abused by their father and he freaking makes a joke right after?!?!?
    That’s just fucked up….
    This whole book felt wrong

    • Ugh. This whole book was an exercise in frustration for me. I couldn’t believe how flippantly such heavy subject matter was handled. I still can’t

      • And seriously what about all the magic healing dicks in contemporary romances out there? I’m seriously paranoid that the books are actually being written by clueless men because not once in my life I’ve ever heard a women say “You know, my life is fucked up, I have deep psychological issues , financial issues, body issues and every other type of issues there is, but you know what will heal everything? One big, very experienced Di*k. Yes, that’s what I need to make it all better: size and DSTs waiting to happen”.

        I’m not sure if I can post a image here, so I’ll just post the link to a gif that explains the feeling so well…

        • Don’t get me started on the powers of the magic peen. It’s super peen! Healing every issue one orgasm at a time. BAH.
          And that gif is absolutely glorious! I’m laughing so hard. Totally stealing that for future use LOL

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