Review: Defy by L.J. Shen

Reviewed by Joanna

This novella is the tale of Melody, a twenty-six-year-old teacher who falls for Jaime, her eighteen-year-old student. It’s unapologetically instalove on Jaime’s behalf (and instalust on Melody’s), and I was interested in whether I’d feel icked out by the abuse of power and age difference between the two. I’d met Jaime in book one – Vicious – and here I found myself warmed by just how dedicated a hero he is in his own story.

Melody hates her job. She was meant to be a ballerina but a bad leg break put paid to her career. Teaching literature is her alternative but she isn’t very good at it and her students don’t pay any attention to her. Apart from Jaime Followhill. The six-three blond man-bunned stud is all about the teacher. He stalks Ms Greene until he finds a way to blackmail her into seeing him. She puts up a feeble resistance – based mainly on the fact his mother is the school principal – but they end up in bed together (I say ‘bed’ but it is mostly other places).

“I might have an easier time rejecting him if he weren’t a female lubricant.”

Now Jaime isn’t a typical teenager. He’s experienced, very big (ahem), and in control. The HotHoles, his crew, are over privileged and rich princelings who run the town of Todos Santos, and get away with murder. What they want, they get. This Little Ballerina (as Jaime calls her) doesn’t have a hope.

He basically bulldozers her into falling for him. Jaime’s physical maturity and his full commitment from the word Go to Melody has him acting more like a man of thirty than an unsure kid. There’s times when he acts his age – mostly when he’s hanging out with his crew, and Melody didn’t fit in to this scene at all. This felt awkward – she has to challenge them one night when the HotHoles are up to no good, and though Jaime came off well, balancing his brotherhood with his friends with his desire to do right with her, Melody is still a square peg in a round (Hot)hole.

When they were alone, they fit together perfectly, with the teacher/pupil effect only serving to make the affair naughtier. I didn’t feel like he was a kid being taken advantage of at any time. And the way the book ended, I guess the ends justified the enjoyable means.

Defy refers not only to rule-breaking, but also to a fight club the HotHoles run, which is a small feature of the story.

A wicked grin curved his lips. “Why? Because it’s fun. Because men have become so fucking emasculated by society, we sometimes feel like having our balls back. Why do dudes love Fight Club so much? It’s because behind every A&F boxers-wearing guy who smells like citrus aftershave and knows who Versace is and takes you out on a date to an Italian dinner and a foreign film, there’s a savage who just wants to grab you by the hair and drag you to his cave.””

Jaime is a savage, but I liked him and Melody a lot.

This story is recommended to be read after book one – Vicious, even though it’s 0.5 (can be standalone too). If you’ve read book one, you’ll know how things end up for this couple, so this novella is a bit of in-fill for the HotHole member who won’t get his own full length book.

Overall my worry that the relationship would feel distasteful wasn’t realized. I enjoyed the story and am anticipating book two – another slightly uncomfortable set up with a guy dating his ex’s sister (Dean and Rosie) – coming this spring.

Rated: B

Click to purchase: Amazon

by L.J. Shen
Release Date: January 31, 2017


  1. Shelly Browne says:


    Very nice review I’m sure I’m in the minority – that scenario (either way) is still ‘100% nope’. He’s still a teen.

    • I know what you mean. I fully expected to nope all over that, but from reading Vicious’s story and meeting the decade-older Jaime, I was willing to suspend the ick as I knew how it worked out. It was a fine line though, and IRL I’d be calling his mother.

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