Review: Very Wicked Beginnings by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Posted 20 June, 2014 in Reviews / 1 Comment

Review: Very Wicked Beginnings by Ilsa Madden-MillsTitle: Very Wicked Beginnings
Series: Briarcrest Academy #1.5
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
Genres: New Adult
Release Date: May 10, 2014
Amazon (affiliate link) • Goodreads


About Very Wicked Beginnings:

Meet Cuba Hudson: Girls say I'm a walking, talking sex god. Guys call me Hollywood because my life is golden. It's not.

But, ESPN did rank me as a four star recruit, calling me one of the best defensive players since Briarcrest Academy opened its esteemed doors. So yeah, with football and a stellar GPA, my future seemed good.

Then Dovey Beckham shows up in her short skirts and ballet shoes. Driving me insane. Making me want to beg for her attention. But that wouldn't happen, because Cuba Hudson didn't beg for anything.

She walked around BA like she owned the place, and most days she looked right through me...the one girl I couldn't have. So, of course, I made it my mission to claim her, to put her notch on my bedpost.

She would be MINE. Because no girl can resist the Heartbreaker of BA.

My Review:

I realized too late that I probably should have read Very Wicked Things before I read Very Wicked Beginnings. I thought it was simply the second in the series, not a prequel that was published after the second book. #Oopsie.

However, now that I’m looking, I’m still really confused. In some places it lists the two books as Briarcrest Academy #2 and #3, and elsewhere #1.5 and #2. So I guess it’s an easy mistake to make. Plus, it was on sale for the great price of $0.00 and I’m still waiting on a loan for Very Wicked Things to come through via


Let me preface this by saying that it took me until about 40% to really get into Very Bad Things, so I was hesitant to read this. I hadn’t quite decided if I wanted to continue the series, but since I knew the books was short and free, I figured why not?

Ugh, I’m really rambling. Sorry. This review might become as long as the novella if I don’t reign it in. Ready, set, focus.


Very Wicked Beginnings is the story of how Cuba and Dovey meet (well…become aware of each other). I’m assuming it has a lot more meaning once you know the rest of their story from Very Wicked Things. Once again, facepalm. I’ll definitely be rereading this after I read their whole story.

Cuba is a big man on campus. Rich boy (who has a dark secret…don’t they all?), superstar athlete, popular guy. Dovey is a scholarship student at the prestigious school they both attend, Briarcrest Academy, and awesome ballerina. (Sidebar: there might be ballerina bias in this review. This former dancer is a sucker for books with ballet.)

Since they run in different circles, economically and socially, they’re paths never crossed before. Dovey knew who Cuba was, everyone at Briarcrest did, but she assumed she was invisible to him and most other people from the “right” side of the tracks.

He catches a quick glimpse of Dovey at ballet rehearsal when he sees her through the window from football practice. He’s so affected by her that he ends up with a concussion! Haha I loved that.


As I said before, I couldn’t get into Very Bad Things right away. But, one of my favorite parts of it ended up being Cuba Hudson!

He just seemed like a really great guy, player tendencies aside. You could tell there was pain beneath his friendly smile, and I just wanted to make it go away.

He also seemed like he was one of those guys that genuinely deserved to be popular – he got that way by being nice to everyone, rather than being popular because people feared him. Well, except for his sexual partners, haha.

His issue: He gets knocked over, literally, when he sees Dovey for the first time. He knows there’s something about her, and he doesn’t know if he can handle whatever that is. Not only does he not have time for a relationship, but the struggles at home makes him unsure if he deserves one.

Her issue: Dovey had an awful childhood and home life, but sees a way out through dance. Dance is her escape (I totally relate). But she doesn’t feel like she belongs at Briarcrest, among the elite. She also thinks Cuba is the greatest thing since sliced bread but is sure he’ll never notice her.

What I Liked:

  • The depth of Cuba’s feelings after seeing just a glimpse of Dovey. I mean, he didn’t even really see her face. Yet his fantasies about her were immediately more romantic than they were sexual. Can you say cute?
  • The two characters don’t even talk to each other until about halfway through. In the grand scheme of things, this is a novella, so that’s not that long, but I still thought it was really interesting.

What I Didn’t:

  • That it focused so much more on Cuba’s point of view than it did Dovey’s. It’s always a thing with me when the book isn’t close to a 50/50 split between POVs. I still feel like I don’t really know Dovey.
  • But once again, that might be because I’m an idiot. I did not like that I felt like I was missing out on things, and then later found out why. OH! I was supposed to read something else first!

Ultimately: I can’t wait to read Cuba and Dovey’s full story. In fact, if BookLending doesn’t come through at the end of the weekend, I’m going to buy it.

About Ilsa Madden-Mills:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap. She spends her days with two small kids, a neurotic cat, and her Viking husband. She collects magnets and rarely cooks except to bake her own pretzels. When she’s not crafting a story, you can find her drinking too much Diet Coke, jamming out to Pink, or checking on her carefully maintained chocolate stash.

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