Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2
“Instead, they served as a reminder that love wasn’t meant to be a pristine affair. It was meant to be messy and meant to hurt, but it would always mend if it’s true…”
B.B. Reid’s Lilac is an epic, erotic rollercoaster ride of rockstar romance with the highest zeniths and precarious plunges. Every turn of the page feels like a one-two punch to the gut, leaving you feeling battered yet satiated at its end. At the conclusion of Lilac, you feel victorious having survived Braxton, Houston, Loren, and Jericho’s battle for love.
Nothing in Lilac feels safe. Reid has taken this maelstrom of actions and emotions and woven them into an intricate and overwhelming story that makes you feel as though you’ve lived a thousand lives before her book’s end. All the words hold you in their thrall as Braxton, Houston, Loren, and Jericho, the band members of Bound, determine their path and its future. Honestly, every time I thought there would be a moment of quiet, Reid whips them into a hurricane of destruction. The emotional pummeling you take at her hands feels necessary to understanding the journey of her characters. There are so many plot points to Lilac that there were times I was worried that she wouldn’t resolve them. However, in true Reid form, she never leaves a story idea behind, and she weaves them carefully together to its end.
I love the chance that Reid took with Lilac. She claims this is her first reverse harem story. Yet, she does something that is often missing in other reverse harem books. Oftentimes, those books are focused on the eroticism of that arrangement, not the story, and they can often fall flat, becoming more smut than character development. That isn’t the case with Lilac. Yes, all of the characters struggle with impulse control at the hands of their attraction to each other. However, Reid uses the physicality of her book to underscore the more complex emotional feelings between her characters. Sometimes, it’s a means to remedy conflict while other times it becomes an expression of their love. Above all of that, though, lies the journeys of her individual characters, and each of them struggles with a past that challenges them in the present. Without the past breaking parts of themselves, these four wouldn’t feel “bound” as Reid shows us clearly in her story.
As the story goes, there is a constant tension between them. However, that tension changes as the story progresses. Initially, the tension is created through an almost “bully romance” aspect to the story, as Braxton struggles for acceptance into the group. Midway through the romance, the struggle becomes more internal in nature and more of the secrets are divulged. This is where the fight of the story assaults you over and over again. The visceral tension of Lilac feels necessary, though, because this type of relationship shouldn’t work within the standards of “regular” society, and it feels like Reid illustrates that through the stress and strain of its development.
Finally, there is a character for everyone in this book If you love a heroine with a “pair” bigger than the men in this story, then you will adore Braxton. She is self-possessed and willing to stand up for herself. There are times when you want to shake her, but you understand quickly that the resiliency gained from her past struggles informs her sometimes single-minded way of handling her feelings. Houston is similar to Braxton, and honestly, for me, his story is the most underdeveloped. We learn his secrets fairly late in the book, and I think I would have liked to understand them sooner. I understand why Reid reveals them when she does, but when you read it, it feels ancillary to the story. For me, Loren and Jericho (Rich) have the most development for her male characters. You understand their motives, and they are so different from each other. Loren is the group’s princess and some of its levity. Jericho is its heart. I believe that Reid wants us to connect with Jericho the most because his past plays a large part in the book. As I stated earlier, each of these characters is a piece of a larger pie, and the story isn’t complete without all of them. That Reid crafts that truth so deftly using the reverse harem trope is exciting because that level of character development can oftentimes be lacking in other reverse harem stories.
It is easy to find yourself lost in the pages of B.B. Reid’s Lilac. The story overwhelms you and causes you to question the messiness of love. However, as Braxton realizes, we find our home in those we love, and once we find it, we hold on to it no matter its compilation and complication. The grittiness of Reid’s When Rivals Play series is still here in Lilac, and it makes you realize quickly that this is a mainstay of a B.B. Reid romance. What that does is illustrate that love is messy, but the journey forward is always right if you allow love to guide you. Sooo…get ready for your wallop in Lilac.
“‘We get to define what true love is for ourselves. No one is entitled to do it for you. Once she’s mine, I’d never hurt her, neglect her, or let her forget that she’s the axis on which I spin. I can do the same with my best friends hanging around. We were already family, Lo. We built a career together. We share a house…We don’t even have separate bank accounts. What’s mine has always been yours. This world is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and the people in it would rather you be miserable as long as they’re comfortable. Why not carve out our own piece and be free to love how we choose?’”
In love and romance,