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Happily and Madly

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Alexis Bass' Happily and Madly is a mature, twisty, compulsively readable YA suspense novel about a young girl who embraces a fate bound in love and mystery.

Maris Brown has been told two things about her destiny:

1. She will fall happily and madly in love.
2. She could be dead before she turns eighteen.

The summer before that fateful birthday, Maris is in the wealthy beach town of Cross Cove with her estranged father and his new family--and the infamous Duvals. Since the youngest member of the Duval family, Edison, is back from college and back in the arms of Maris’s new stepsister, her summer looks to be a long string of lazy days on the Duval's lush beach.

But Edison is hiding something. And the more Maris learns about him, the more she’s given signs that she should stay as far away from him as possible. As wrong as it is, Maris is drawn to him. Around Edison, she feels truly alive and she's not willing to give that up. Even if it means a collision course with destiny.

352 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 21, 2019

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About the author

Alexis Bass

4 books178 followers
Alexis Bass grew up in Washington, went to college in Arizona, and spent her early twenties in Seattle. She currently lives in Northern California with Dylan McKay, her gorgeous and rambunctious golden retriever. She loves good fashion and good TV as much as a good book, and is a huge advocate of the three C’s: coffee, chocolate, and cheese. LOVE AND OTHER THEORIES is her first novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 107 reviews
Profile Image for Yna from Books and Boybands.
747 reviews347 followers
May 25, 2019
"There’s a certain rush that comes with lying. I think a lot of people probably don’t like it— the racing heart, the sweaty palms, the fear of being caught. These are the things that made lying worth it for me. All that buildup and anticipation wondering if you’ll get away with it."
📖 Happily & Madly 📖
🖋Alexis Bass
Read as an eARC.
Much thanks to NetGalley and Tor Teen, an imprint of Macmillan, Tor-Forge for this complimentary copy. This review is voluntary and opinions are fully my own.

BUY THIS BOOK: Indie Bookstore Amazon Barnes & Noble Book Despository

📚 Series: No
📚 Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Thriller
📚 POV: First person.
📚 Cliffhanger: No.

⚠ Content Warnings: Cheating/Infidelity. Violence: Gunshots / Knife Wounds / Death Threats

⚠ Read if: you are looking for a slow burn mystery.

Happily & Madly is my first Alexis Bass book, in spite of having known of the author. Her other books sitting in my TBR for forever. Sorry, Alexis Bass, I now regret that because your writing is so good! There's something about it that makes you keep turning the page even if the book's pace is actually quite slow.

Maris is sent vacationing to Hampton-ish style Cross Cove to be with her father, George, and his new family. Maris has a tendency to treat trouble as a friend and follow it whether she goes, perhaps a result of the divorce his parents had years ago.

Maris meets his father's new family, including her new step-sister, Chelsea, who is almost the same age as her. Chelsea, is very kind, trusting and naïve to a fault, and is also very in love with her boyfriend, Edison. Maris would also be having a close encounter with a boy, Finn, when she saves him on the island her first day there.

The story revolves around Maris' trouble seeking tendencies, a whole lot of mysterious things, her impulsiveness and basically being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Whatever you have read in the blurb, ignore that. This book actually needs a new blurb because their description seems to promise something that the book is not actually about. So, if you will be put off by that, I guess this book is not actually for you.

If you are also easily troubled by morally grey characters, because there is infidelity here. You might want to rethink reading this. Having said that, I always have a weakness in reading about morally grey things and characters doing the wrong things, so this book was great for me.

If you can look past that, Happily & Madly is a great character/mood based thriller that will have you emotionally invested all throughout. There is a balance of romance, mystery and family drama that kept me on my toes. Even the support characters will grab on your heartstrings, watch out for Chelsea and Sepp.

Overall, it was a very interesting read and I glad I picked it up.


🌻 Blurb:⭐⭐
🌻 Hero:⭐⭐⭐
🌻 Heroine:⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌻 Support Characters:⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌻 Writing Style:⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌻 Character Development:⭐⭐⭐
🌻 Romance:⭐⭐⭐
🌻 Suspense/Thrill Factor:⭐⭐⭐
🌻 Mystery:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐🌻 Pacing:⭐⭐⭐
🌻 Ending:⭐⭐⭐
🌻 Page Turner:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🌻 Book Cover:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

☁FINAL VERDICT: 3.69/5 ☁
Profile Image for Kajree Gautom.
572 reviews
June 19, 2019
I won't lie, I mostly requested this book because of the cover. But it was such a brilliantly done book and I thoroughly enjoyed it!!!

Maris, while on vacation with her estranged father’s family, wanders out into the island where she encounters Finn. And saves him, of course. Right from that moment, I had my doubts on Finn and his truth. I did not trust him at all and my guts were right.

For the first part, the story progresses very slowly while planting down the seeds of mystery and suspense. I was truly engrossed and wanted to know, to find out the truth. And that was a very good point about the book – the author knew how to keep the readers hooked.

I loved Chelsea and Sepp's characters the most, although Chelsea did get a little annoying at times. Sepp was one of those morally gray characters that you cannot help but love. Made into what he is by his family's secrets, Sepp does everything to save his brother and Maris. Ah!

Maris, I found her a little too nosy at times. She was just at the wrong place in at the wrong time. Edison, well, if only I could slap him. He was a good character though, I enjoyed reading his story and how he had to endure so much. That really made me feel sympathetic towards him at the end.

Story wise, it was a slow burn mystery. The end got a little hazy and rushed but it was thrilling nonetheless. Everything falls into place, and secrets are brought out to the surface. The author leaves no stones untouched and gives us a bittersweet ending.

With gray characters and good ones, Happily and Madly is a story unlike the usual romances that will make you turning the pages. But remember this – the blurb is very misleading. This is more of a mystery/thriller than a romance.

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed are fully mine.
Profile Image for Alexa.
Author 5 books3,204 followers
January 16, 2019
Happily and Madly by Alexis Bass was a character-driven mystery that struck a perfect balance between compelling pageturner and slow burn read. How can a pageturner also be a slow burn? Basically I was pulled in and compelled to come back to the book over 3 successive nights, but the writing was moody, languid, warm and easy to slip into like the perfect bubble bath... I didn't want to rush because I wanted the read to last.

First I am disappointed in myself that this is the first Alexis Bass book I have read. I love her writing style. It's crisp and cultivates a mood without being flowery, and every character was astutely drawn and both easy and not-so-easy to pin down. I ached with empathy for Maris in particular, but also Chelsea, and felt that emotional attachment to the main character and the wrongs done against her that I love in a good book: I was so upset on her behalf, so desperate for her to lose her cool and say precisely the perfect biting words to her estranged father--really castigate him and put him in his place. Many books really disappoint on this front, or they take it too far, with a soap opera-like confrontation, but the book left me very emotionally satisfied.

But, okay, so let's get to my ONE quibble, and that's with the back cover copy/pitch for the book. It wasn't misleading, per se, but it doesn't do the book justice! The blurb really makes it seem like this is a ticking clock book, that the fortune teller's prediction that Maris will die before her 18th birthday is an essential aspect of the book's narrative drive--but it's not. Maris doesn't even take the fortune teller seriously? And I am glad for it: I wasn't sure I wanted to read a book with that pulsing backbone, and this book is so much more than a juicy hook?

No, Happily and Madly is a character and setting/mood driven barely-can-call-it-a-thriller-thriller--and it really hit the spot. Bass nails the "lower class outsider experiencing a time among f*cked up rich people," which is almost a genre unto itself, and I loved every second of it. Cape Cove leapt off the page, as did all the ridiculously wealthy and wannabe wealthy people, and I loved all the yachts, masquerade parties, badminton... high class society with dark secrets happens to be one of my favorite subgenres in mystery thriller, so if that sounds up your street, you might love this too.

Now, let's talk about the romance in the book... first off, the book smacked me in the face with an early plot twist that should have been painfully obvious, but the execution is well handled. In the first 20 pages, Maris discovers a boy on a small island who is running for his life, and she saves him. I was like WHAT IS THIS BOOK and it only develops from there. But the pacing and tone isn't high octane thriller--what I enjoyed so much was all these soapy elements unfolding in a very measured manner. The focus is character relationships, not plot twists.

I have one spoilery warning that involves cheating. Details under the cut.

One thing I really enjoyed: there isn't any girl-hate in the book. The feelings Maris has for and relationships she has with her step mother and step sister are well handled. It would have been so easy to make Trisha the bad guy, or make Chelsea the annoying try-hard stepsister, but Maris is very empathetic and the book doesn't fall into easy tropes of her being bitter and hating everything.

I'll say that the book's twists get a bit muddled at the very end, mostly because the focus of the book isn't the unfolding mystery and thus there's a lot to fit in in very little space at the end, but because the focus of the narrative wasn't the mystery, but the relationships, I didn't mind.

That said, readers expecting a high-octane or spooky (b/c of the fortune teller) thriller read might be disappointed. That's not what this is. But I loved it.
Profile Image for Megan Hibbs.
29 reviews
July 26, 2019
Nuts. This book was nuts. Very intriguing page-turner nonetheless.
Profile Image for Inês.
76 reviews3 followers
April 18, 2022

I found this novel to be written in a childish, rushed and totally unrealistic way. It bothered me from the beginning the lack of description, the lack of chemistry, the lack of flow and the amount of convenient and easy coincidences that happened throughout the story. However, there is definitely something odd about this book that keeps you hooked. It might be the amount of reviews stating that the twists are unexpected. I don’t know. But that’s not the case. At all.
I found the twists to be either predictable or confusing. The whole narrative revolving around the Duvals, Dr. Alice and the mysterious deaths just seemed, to me, extremely messy. It did not feel real or even remotely interesting? It was just another random crime written to create an unrealistic drama.


About the characters: I only truly enjoyed Sepp. He was good and funny and honest. Such a shame.
Maris was tolerable as a main character, but extremely annoying when it came to making decisions. I mean, think twice before you act, girl. Reckless, irresponsible and (honestly?) dumb. Why would she risk herself so much? Why the need to constantly know and control everything? Her personality felt too fake and “fictional”, meaning that the only bit of trait I could actually connect to emotionally was her family history. Other than that, she really had no personality, no personal dreams or wishes. She was boring.
George: I actually thought he was going to turn out to be a good and decent guy who owned his mistakes and tried to make up for the past, but he really wasn’t. This felt off to me. He felt off. I didn’t like it. Or him. Douchebag. His relationship with his daughters was SO different and I honestly could not understand why.
About Edison…why do girls like him, really? Remind me, please. Because, to me, he is so bland, so normal and boring. The mystery he is supposed to play in the story and that “sexy trait” that Maris likes in him, it doesn’t really exist. He is supposed to look like a bad boy who only has eyes for one girl, but he isn’t. It’s weird and complicated and honestly I don’t know why he is so liked by everyone. It nearly drove me crazy trying to come up with reasons why Chelsea was in love him. I sort of get why Maris was (reckless, “mysterious”, adventure-seeker), but Chelsea?
Well, Chelsea is the last character I will speak of: I don’t know how to feel about her. She was sweet and nice, but so stupid. She lives in a fantasy world dreaming of family vacation and romantic trips to Paris, but why? She never sees her boyfriend anyway. She seemed very childish and immature, sort of like Maris but in a totally opposite way. Whereas Maris was too down to earth and took things too literally and risked everything, Maris lived on another planet and her head was constantly up in the clouds, not really paying attention to reality. How could she not have noticed the amount of times Maris left her alone in their room? I mean…c’mon.

Anyway…even though I disliked more about this story than I enjoyed, it was still a pleasant read that kept me hanging to know more. I was always expecting something to happen out of the blue, to surprise me and make me go “wow, such a brilliant story”. But nah. Not really. Tolerable and engaging regardless.
Profile Image for Michele.
1,242 reviews
May 10, 2019
4 1/2 "shooting" stars!

Maris was spending the summer with her father and his "new family." Their relationship was already a rocky one as he had left Maris and her mother and married his pregnant girlfriend and adopted her daughter, Chelsea, who just happened to be the same age as Maris.

They head to Cross Cove, a beach where the wealthy vacation. Chelsea is beyond excited because her boyfriend, Edison and his family will be there also. Therefore, Maris and the "New Browns" (as she calls her father and his new family) spend an inordinate amount of time socializing with the uber wealthy at Cross Cove. In the midst of all of this, several mysterious things occur, leaving Maris with unanswered questions and nagging doubts.

Happily and Madly had a great undercurrent (pardon the pun) of mystery tucked in with the family dynamics that were also at play. It was the first book I've read by Alexis Bass and was a very pleasant surprise. I will definitely have to check out her previous works.

"...love makes the unforgivable things forgivable."

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,306 reviews219 followers
May 24, 2019

Maris arrives in Cross Cove to spend the summer with her father and his new family, including Chelsea, the daughter of his new wife whom he adopted. On her first night Maris saves a boy named Finn, who happens to be Chelsea’s boyfriend Edison. Soon Maris is embroiled in a deadly mystery.

I thought I was going to enjoy HAPPILY AND MADLY from the beginning. I liked Maris, who had been in more trouble than most eighteen year olds and also had insight into her behaviors. I loved that Alexis Bass avoided the mean step family trope and other overused YA themes.

HAPPILY AND MADLY starts painfully slow and takes over half the book to set up the unbelievable plot. Maris proves to be a better sleuth than the hapless FBI agents, outsmarting them at every turn. The mystery was complex, not very relatable and completely impossible.

I don’t understand the comparisons to WE WERE LIARS except for the immense wealth.

HAPPILY AND MADLY kept me interested enough to finish the book, but I’ll never reread it.
Profile Image for Denali.
29 reviews34 followers
July 17, 2020
So much beauty, but what does it cost?
How many lies? How many secrets?

Well friends, here we have yet another great recommendation from Kate. If you've read the synopsis, you probably thought to yourself, This sounds like a super easy, romantic read. Perfect for summer. And you would be wrong.

Happily and Madly is, in fact, a great read. And it was probably my favorite read of the summer. However, it's also anything but a quick romantic read. What made this so phenomenal and unputdownable was that every time I thought I'd figured out what was going to happen next, another twist threw me for a loop.

Our main character, Maris Brown, is some kind of trouble. Typically, when you read about a character who goes looking for trouble, you're not thinking literally. Only, Maris is. Visiting her father in idyllic Cross Cove is a bandaid over a broken childhood, smoothed over with a burning cream of the New Browns, aka the family her father replaced her with. Acting out is one thing. Sort-of-accidentally-but-not-really secretly dating your step sister's boyfriend is another.

I am thinking what I'm not allowed to think:
He would be different with me.

Alexis Bass blew me away with this book. From her simple, elegant prose to the expertly woven intricacies and surprises she wove into Happily & Madly, she's earned her name popping up again on my TBR. For those who loved One of Us Is Lying or Genuine Fraud, I'd recommend adding this underrated book to your next-to-read list.

Profile Image for Tasha Leigh.
593 reviews11 followers
June 4, 2019
The start of this novel is a little slow; theres the meeting of the teens, some courageous activities and a little running around behind her parents back. And then theres nothing for a while...

Once the first big twist happens however, I started to get a bit of a We Were Liars feel. There is intrigue, a lovely twist relating to the love interest and a guy who eventually came through in the end.

I found the story was very indepth although some of the characters involved, especially the new step-sister and the parents of the love interest were extremely superficial.

When thinking about the books as a whole it was a moderately enjoyable narrative despite it feeling very disjointed in parts.
Profile Image for Kristin.
947 reviews101 followers
March 23, 2019
4.5 stars... that was a smart, engaging, totally appropriate YA mystery!!! Not too heavy, not too light, just right. I can't say too much b/c it's always, ALWAYS better going into any mystery knowing nothing ;) I was completely satisfied with the ending, too. No cheese here... okay, maybe a wee bit but totally fits.
Profile Image for doilyduchess.
6 reviews
June 29, 2022
im not quite sure if this book deserves a high rating or a low one. all i know is that i thoroughly enjoyed mocking the plot, idiotic choices the characters made, and more. but even so… the ending struck me in a way i did not expect. thats right, i cried over this book. not only that. i laughed, hid in embarrassment and sometimes even in fear. as silly as it is- this book brought emotion out of me so… round of applause for that. still i would not blatantly reccomend it, so 4 stars.
Profile Image for CapesandCovers.
349 reviews41 followers
June 23, 2020
I picked this up on a whim at a convention last year, because the cover really drew me in, but the vague premise on the back of my ARC just never motivated me to start it until now. I also feel that it was a bit misleading, it makes it sound like fate is driving a plot of impending doom in the story, and it's not like that at all. Ignoring that, Happily and Madly surprised me, it was more honest and raw than I was expecting it to be, and I ended up reading it pretty quickly.

Happily and Madly follows the main character, Maris, as she vacations with her father and his second family; the one he chose over her and her mom. She's been getting into trouble, so this vacation is supposed to be her chance to redeem herself and behave, which of course means, she doesn't (though she tries, and I give her credit for it). Maris quickly runs into a hot and charming boy, who's hiding from a group of guys chasing him, one of which he's stabbed. It spirals out from there, turning into a slow paced, relationship centric plot, with a hint of thriller to it.

I liked Maris, she made bad decisions and was far from the typical contemporary protagonist who either wants to do the right thing, or does the wrong thing and tries to justify it. Instead, she saw things from more of an unbiased perspective, with the exception of when it came to her father, who she has a minimal relationship with. She wasn't someone I'd want to be friends with, but Bass ultimately had me rooting for her anyway.

I really don't want to say too much else, because I feel like it'd better not to go into this book knowing a lot, so I'm just going to mention a few things I liked. Sepp was my fav and no, you won't change my mind. He was more interesting than Edison in my opinion and I loved his personality. I really liked that Maris got along with and liked her dad's other family too, it was a nice reprieve from the usual "evil step/second family" trope.

Unfortunately, the romance was just kind of meh for me, but the mystery and other characters were enough to keep me interested. While the number of characters introduced at the beginning got a bit confusing, and the ending felt a bit jumbled from being rushed, it's something that can be overlooked, especially if you're swept up in the plot.

If you're hoping for a fast paced thriller, or a mystical/magic driven mystery, skip this one, the blurb is misleading. But if you love character and relationship driven books and a mystery, you'll love this. It's got wealth and charm and made me want to go to the beach (which will not be happening for a multitude of reasons, but primarily since there's a pandemic right now). 
Profile Image for Giulia.
695 reviews103 followers
June 5, 2019
"Destruction can be tempting"

TW: drugs, alcohol, death

Truly, for once, I’m going to keep this Rather Random Review™️ short (and thus slightly underwhelming).

This should have been a thriller but it was too slow moving to actually be thrilling.

It had interesting twists and turns and I truly liked Maris – the main character. She was fierce, incredibly cunning and super smart. I’d say that she was an amazing Slytherin type of character. Being in her head was engrossing and I liked her perspective on things. She was complex, noisy and a bit of a trouble-maker – and I really liked it.

I also overall thoroughly enjoy the writing style. It was straightforward but also had its flowery and purple moments that made the reading experience unique and good.

So, the only problem of Happily and Madly was the pace.
It was too slow, and after a while I got bored of the build-up and just wanted this book to end. I was 76% in and I realized that nothing had happened. That's not normal :/
I was also not particularly a fan of the cheating-romance kinda trope. It's simply not my cup of tea.

Maybe it’s because I’m in a bit of a life slump, but I thought this book was tedious and not really thrilling.
The characters and their dynamics were truly amazing, and the writing style was also very good. It was a pity, though, that the plot did not perfectly deliver, in my opinion.

With a cover like this, I would have preferred to love Happily and Madly just so to have an excuse to buy it, but it was average and a bit boring. Hence I won't add this book to my shelves, unfortunately.

"Do whatever it takes to feel completely alive"
Profile Image for Lindsay.
587 reviews
March 30, 2019
I was hoping this would take on a We Were Liars vibe, but I was dissatisfied as the story progressed and everything remained the same. I didn’t realize this until after 36% since up until that point the plot was still setting up. Maris is spending the summer with her father, his new wife, her stepsister, and her infant half-sister in the coastal New England town of Cross Cove. She goes exploring in the woods on her first day there and sees a bleeding and bruised guy limping away from something. Her decision to help him hide from a posse of guys is the tipping point for everything else that follows.

This read like a journal entry by skipping through actions and steps and only focusing on the highlights. Maris was bland and unemotional, her stepsister Chelsea was fascinated with living happily ever after with her boyfriend Edison, and Edison was two-faced, showing his true self secretly around Maris while being the shiny, rich, handsome boyfriend to Chelsea and constantly impressing the family.

Mysteries are implanted every now and then when Maris follows and eavesdrops on people. She always gets caught which grew old since you knew what would happen when she trailed someone. I knew from that start that Edison’s family was fake, from their glistening smiles to having Maris’ family over every day to enjoy the luxuries of the rich life. The reveal was pinpointed from the beginning and the lack of action and suspense knocked the rating down for me.

If anything, this reminded me of The Lies They Tell by Gillian French, except this was portrayed better.

Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.
Profile Image for Katherine.
770 reviews350 followers
April 19, 2020
”’It’s going to happen to you,’ she said. ‘You will fall happily and madly in love.’”

The fortune teller was wrong on this one, because I did not fall happily and madly in love with this book.

An outsider who goes to vacation with her estranged and rich family in the summer. What could possibly go wrong? The answer is everything. Despite a fairly strong start, it got bogged down by a languishing middle section and a convoluted mystery that I couldn’t bring myself to care about. The author made it almost too easy for the reader to solve the mystery. Hell, Maris was able to solve the case with just a knock and an inquiry when the FBI couldn’t even handle that.

While I liked Maris as a main character, the plot line slowed down any kind of character development she might have made. If there’s one takeaway I can get from this book, it’s that the plot and characters are central to everything and both have to work together.

I actually thought the love triangle (which was also a central plot to the story), was done well, somethin I almost never say when it comes to love triangles. The fact that it was between stepsiblings made it all the more intriguing, and despite the secrecy involved, I thought that the communication between them comprised a lot of the better scenes in this book.

Well-developed characters couldn’t save this book from a muddling plot that didn’t make sense.
Profile Image for Sophia.
144 reviews8 followers
June 23, 2020
This was great. The cover is gorgeous, there's a slow burn mystery, there's romance, there's family drama, a transportive setting - it basically covers all of its bases. As a lot of other people have pointed out the writing and premise of "rich people on an island" is reminiscent of We Were Liars. I found that the protagonist also reminded me of the protagonist in Girl In Pieces.

I would say that the supporting characters were great and I loved the storyline about her step-family. I think it would have been interesting to learn a bit about her mom. I also found that the Duval family was a little less distinctive and the romance between her and Edison didn't entirely make sense. I loved their meeting though and the "twist" of Finn being Edison took me totally off guard.

In terms of plot, while it was clever, interesting and unique, there were a few things that didn't add up for me. For one, how were they deciding who to kill? Also it never made sense to me why they were killing anyone in the first place? It made sense why they killed Edison's mom but other than that it wasn't clear what the motive was.

On a final note, the cover is absolutely gorgeous and fits the book so well. The title, on the other hand, didn't make as much sense to me since the whole falling madly in love didn't really click for me, and it certainly didn't seem happy.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for McKenna Studrawa.
23 reviews1 follower
June 15, 2019
This book was absolutely riveting. I was not expecting any of the plot twists and everything kept becoming more and more bizarre. It reminded me of We Were Liars, yet I definitely feel like I liked this book more. Definitely give Happily and Madly a chance.
Profile Image for Caitlyn.
441 reviews39 followers
April 24, 2020
Stilted dialogue, complex character dynamics. Not quite compelling.
Profile Image for Christy.
1,505 reviews258 followers
September 1, 2020
Alexis Bass has perfected the unlikeable female character and this book is MAGNIFICENT. Full RTC
Profile Image for Ainur.
408 reviews45 followers
November 21, 2022
It started to get really good by 15% at the end of the book.
I couldn't understand why Maris put up with Edison's lies, over and over again. I would have left and not bother with anything.
Profile Image for Liz.
12 reviews1 follower
March 3, 2023
Very intriguing but didn’t keep my attention for more than an hour so :/
Profile Image for Anna Mullins.
2 reviews
April 28, 2019
I really enjoyed the characters in this book. Maris, the rebellious but kind teenager. Edison, the troubled but loving boy who just wants to be loved. Chelsea, the purest and genuine girl, who despite her circumstances always sees the best in people. I enjoyed the story and how the twists unraveled. I wish there was more of an ending, however. I was left feeling like there was a little more to tell.
Profile Image for Rachael Yuska.
Author 9 books133 followers
June 13, 2020
I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book slowly builds up the mood and tension. Everything in this book is just right. No over the top characters and the twist will hit you in the end.
Profile Image for MsArdychan.
529 reviews20 followers
June 10, 2019
From the description given on Goodreads, one would think Madly and Happily, by Alexis Bass is a novel about forbidden summer love. It is. But it is also a fast-paced thriller filled with shady business deals, mysterious characters, and complicated relationships. Set against a backdrop of a summer resort town, this book was a page-turner.

What I Liked:


The beach town of Cross Cove, with its mix of local residents and wealthy visitors, reminds me of my hometown of Santa Barbara, California. Hidden behind the glitzy exteriors of shops and restaurants that cater to tourists lies a seedy underbelly. In the case of Santa Barbara, there is a huge homeless problem. In fictional Cross Cove, the glamorous location hides drug trafficking, pay-offs, and possibly murder!


Maris is the kind of broken teen that you know will make all the wrong choices in this story. She is reckless, sullen, and although she claims she is responsible for her own decisions, blames her father for what has gone wrong in her life. I liked Maris. She was conflicted about many of the hurtful things she did, but she shows us how people can justify bad behavior. She is a flawed human.

I really liked Sepp, Edison's brother. He is not one of the main characters, but he is really important to the story. I liked that, in an atmosphere where there were so many secrets, he was always a straight shooter. I would say that he is almost the moral compass for this story. Almost, because even though he points out how wrong everything is, he still is part of the sketchy goings-on.


I enjoy a good thriller and this was certainly a story that kept me on the edge of my seat. The wealthy Duval family seem too perfect to be real, and they are. Even though Edison is dating Chelsea, Maris's step-sister, it seems excessive that the Duvals take such an interest in Maris's whole family. The reasons become clear as the story progresses. There are some shady dealings going on. Could George, Maris's father, be involved?

The novel is fluctuates between a story about forbidden love and a criminal mystery. It certainly kept me guessing.

What I Was Mixed About:

The Romance:

I know Edison is supposed to be Mr. Charming, getting his way with just a brilliant smile. But I was taken aback by how he often shifted the blame of what he was doing to Maris. At one point in the story he tells her, "I hate it that you have to lie for me". He doesn't give her a choice, just points out that she will get in trouble if she doesn't do what he wants. It was extremely manipulative. I hated that Maris didn't seem to have a backbone with him. If she finds him so irresistible then I think she would want to lie for him, anyway. But it made Maris seem very insecure to be able to be convinced that she had as much to lose as him. She really didn't.

I also didn't like that Maris tries to justify betraying Chelsea by thinking it's fine because it somehow evens out what George (Maris's dad) did to Maris and her mother. One betrayal doesn't make another one okay.
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