Book Review : Bad Things (Tristan & Danika Book 1) by R.K. Lilley

Bad Things (volume 1 of the Tristan & Danika series) (Amazon Link)

Author : R.K. Lilley
Series : Tristan & Danika (volume 1 of 3)
Year Published : June 11th, 2013
Genre / Tags : Romance, Contemporary, Longer-Than-Average, Slow Burn
Formats : eBook, Paperback
# of Pages : 366 pages (Paperback)


Danika hasn’t had an easy life. Being insanely attracted to bad boys has never helped make it easier.

One look at Tristan, and every brain cell she possessed went up in smoke. This man was trouble with a capital T. It was a given.
She knew better. Bad boys were bad. Especially for her. Considering her history, it was crazy to think otherwise. So why did crazy have to feel so damn fine?

For as long as she could remember, Danika had been focused on the future with single-minded purpose. Tristan came along and taught her everything there was to know about letting go, and living in the present. She fell, hard and deep. Of course, that only made her impact with the ground that much more devastating.

Bad Things is about Tristan and Danika, and their train wreck of a love story. This series can be read as a standalone, or with the Up in the Air series.

Bad Things is a full length novel, at roughly 105,000 words.
This book is intended for ages 18 and up.


I really wanted to love this one. This book seems made for me. There is a slow burn romance here where the characters get to know each other in the first half. Things aren’t rushed and feelings between the characters develop naturally. Biracial Asian MC is some frankly unusual rep in romance that I’d like to see more of. The love interest’s name is Tristan and I have some unique affinity for that name too. Everything came together for what would seem like subjective appeal.

First, the writing style. It is noticeably well-polished. I remember being impressed given that the book was free at the time on Amazon and I think it’s still frequently discounted or free. However, the core storyline was boring and uneventful for the most part. And honestly, that is a dealbreaker for me. If I had to choose between two major drawbacks, I would easily take a poorly written trainwreck with an interesting storyline and compelling characters over something technically competent but bland.

There’s nothing extremely wrong with the lead characters- but there’s also limited flavor to their characterization and banter. Their story is pretty unremarkable- except for the last couple of chapters.

In those last few, the leads abruptly become high strung and angsty. Tristan spends at least 70% of the book being an even-tempered and kind of bland guy and the last 30% going on a punching frenzy at every guy who looks at Danika wrong. It was a startling shift. They both react in kind of extreme ways to their relationship moving from friends to lovers, and more conflict ensues. At the end of it all, there was a preview for the next book that hinted at some unappealing future events. Honestly, had I not read that preview, I might have been more interested in maybe checking out the sequel. Sometimes I wonder if previews help or hurt a book. I usually skip them.

This title has quite a high average rating (4.3) and tons of ratings (almost 30k) on Goodreads. It’s worth noting that a lot of people seem to love it so I’m probably in the minority with my opinions. This couple’s slow burn romance is carefully handled enough to be realistic. But the boiling point seemed to slow to reach. Also suspect that the page count vs events of note might have been an obstacle for enjoyment, as the events in this book seem like they could have been accomplished in half the pages.

However, a major upside, the characters aren’t very problematic. In a sea of new adult titles that seem prone toward out-doing each other in shock value, something less feather-ruffling can actually be a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, in the arena of fiction, I’m a person who lives for drama.

Overall Rating – 6/10

Why You Should Try It – If you’re a fan of contemporary romance, slow burn, lengthy narrative, and more realistic approaches to character development- this might strike the right chord. A lot of people seem to feel a strong chemistry between the pairing here.

Why You Might Not Like It – I was often bored with the averageness of every happening and found the characters and atmosphere unremarkable. Very forgettable sub-plots.

Bad Things (volume 1 of the Tristan & Danika series) (Amazon Link)

Thanks for checking out this review! Have you read this book or is it on your TBR? Read anything else by R.K. Lilley? Even though I felt lukewarm toward this book, I think romantic contemporaries in general might be a bit less appealing for me compared to fantasy settings. I have liked several, but they tend to need punchier or really funny banter or a remarkable and/or distinctive underlying plot to be engaging. Love to hear your thoughts as always and thanks again. ~ Kitty


8 thoughts on “Book Review : Bad Things (Tristan & Danika Book 1) by R.K. Lilley

  1. I loved the Up in the Air trilogy and have been anticipating this book. It’s a shame about it being quite average though as it has all of the elements that I love in a romance: slow-burn, realistic characters. I’m not keen on the angst though – I’ve had my fair share of that lately with romances 😛 Great review! Jen

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Unfortunately, in the arena of fiction, I’m a person who lives for drama.

    can i just say how much i love this line my love


    like my life is pretty much drama free so i absolutely need it in my fictional life

    amazing review

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t read much romance so I haven’t heard of this one or this author. It’s unfortunate that was a bit average! Great review though. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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