Genre: YA/NA Contemporary, Romance
Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.
Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it’s too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she’s unable to escape.
Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.
BAD ROMANCE was my first Heather Demetrios book, and frankly, I’m blown away. BAD ROMANCE follows Grace, who is a junior when she meets Gavin Davis, a senior, who makes her feel good and special, especially away from her emotionally and physically abusive mother and stepfather. Things take a turn when Gavin and Grace’s relationship slowly but surely turns sour.
BAD ROMANCE is, by far, not a happy book. There’s happy moments, but it describes the story of Grace’s senior year, as she’s drawn more into a toxic and manipulative relationship with Gavin. That being said, there are trigger warnings for sexual assault, verbal and physical abuse, and toxic relationships. It’s incredibly emotional and kept me reading, way into the late hours of the night. I found that the ending of the novel was pretty satisfying, but I would have liked to know what happened to Grace’s mom, if she ever got out of her toxic relationship with Roy, Grace’s stepfather.
Grace was a lovely main character. Grace slowly but surely focuses her love towards herself after she breaks up with Gavin and learns to heal after her toxic relationship with Gavin. I undoubtedly despise Gavin, but Demetrios did an amazing job of depicting him as someone easy to fall in love with and difficult to leave, as Grace experienced. I’m so appreciative of the characters and the outlets that Grace did have, such as Gideon, Matt, theater, and the Honey Pot, as it really brought some light into her life. BAD ROMANCE also develops such a strong friendship between Grace, Lys, and Nat, which made me so grateful for Grace that she had such kind and understanding people behind her.
Overall, I found BAD ROMANCE to be an incredibly realistic story of a toxic and manipulative romance, as it was based off Demetrios’s own personal experience with bad romance, and shows how, despite being difficult and painful, it’s still possible to rise up. I think this is an unrelentingly honest book, and I hope that this will help those who are also in bad romances.
If you or someone you know is in a bad romance, please utilize these resources, taken from the Author’s Note from BAD ROMANCE:
Thank you to Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.