Review: Jake Undone (Jake, #1) by Penelope Ward

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4.5 stars. I loved it!

Ever since reading Gemini and being introduced to Jake, I have been looking forward to reading this book. He intrigued me so much and I have been excited to read more about him, and this book was so much more than I was expecting – sweet, sexy, fun and flirtatious, but also deeply emotional, angsty and gorgeously romantic. I devoured this book and couldn’t get enough of these characters and their complex, chemistry-filled love story.

(Note – Though this book can standalone, be aware that there is a strong link to Gemini, and this one will contain spoilers for that book.)

Nina has just moved to Brooklyn to attend nursing school. She is a girl who is plagued by phobias – crowds, small spaces, heights, etc. – but she is excited to be out on her own and starting this new phase in her life. She moves into a share house with an old friend and his girlfriend, and it’s there that she meets Jake, the fourth member of the house.

Jake is a bit of an enigma. Pierced, tattooed and seemingly into random hook-ups, he appears to be the ultimate bad boy, but his joking and easygoing manner immediately puts Nina at ease – even though she is wildly attracted to him. And when he offers to tutor her in math, it proves the perfect opportunity to spend time with him.

I cannot gush enough about how much I loved this early part of Jake and Nina’s relationship. They become friends before anything romantic happens, and their joking, teasing and banter is so much fun! And on a deeper level, Jake makes a deal with Nina that for every exam that she doesn’t get an ‘A’ for, she has to let him take her out and test her limits – showing his huge heart, his caring nature, and his genuine desire to help her.

“You can choose right here and now to stay in the present and let go of the fear or you can choose to engage it.”

And through every moment of it, there is an underlying sexual chemistry that builds brilliantly. You can feel how badly they want each other, but there is something holding Jake back and despite how much he clearly wants to, he won’t take that final step. It’s frustrating as hell, but it’s also deliciously angsty, and the sexual tension is fantastic!

You see, Jake has a secret. It’s a secret that sends him back home to Boston every weekend, and it’s the thing that is so clearly holding him back. The prologue which shows a moment from Jake’s past gives us some kind of idea of what may be happening, but the specifics were a surprise for me when all was finally revealed, and my heart just broke for him. Most of the book is told in Nina’s POV, but it switches to dual right when it counts, and finally getting Jake’s perspective allows us to see just how strongly he feels for Nina, and his dedication to her and his honest and undeniable love for her just melted my heart.

“We were two fractured souls that fit together like the last two missing pieces in a “fucked up life” puzzle. When we were together, life finally made sense; it wasn’t all work, obligation, guilt and fear. It was just amazing to be alive. She needed me to help her, but she didn’t realize I needed her so much more.

Their love story is so, so beautiful. After all of that build up, when the moment finally comes I was bouncing up and down with excitement – and fanning myself at all of the hotness. This is a situation where two people are so completely meant to be together, and their connection is beautifully explored as they finally give in to their feelings, and it was a total, complete swoonfest!

My body belongs to you.
My heart belongs to you.
My soul belongs to you.
Only you.

But the revelation of secrets and surprising twists will change everything for Jake and Nina, and their journey to get through the challenges that confront them as their love for each other is tested, increase the angst and make for an even more dramatic and emotional read

I loved this book. I loved the slow-building, chemistry-filled romance, I loved the emotion and the drama, and I even loved the angst! Even though I’m not usually a fan of angst, in this book it made sense, and it worked to build the intensity of everything that was happening. Nina and Jake’s journey is wonderfully sweet, fun, passionate and romantic, and also heartbreaking in places, but I could feel their soul-deep connection, and their love story is so beautifully written, that I got completely swept up in it.

“I’m yours. I have never belonged to anyone before…but I know that I belong to you.”

The reason why I didn’t give this is a full 5 stars is because of some Jake stupidity towards the end of the book. The boy is clearly struggling, but I wasn’t ok with some of his behaviour. But he has such a huge heart and a gentle soul, and he’s been through hell so I was able to cut him some slack. Plus, he did make up for it, and overall it didn’t bother me too much.

The story ends well, with an epilogue that finishes everything off really nicely, and after that introduction to Skylar and Mitch, I’m looking forward to their story in My Skylar.

I loved this one! 4.5 stars


Gemini (Interconnected Standalones)

Each book is a standalone (except for the Jake books), but the characters crossover.  Books are listed below in order of publication date.

Gemini  Jake Undone  My Skylar  Jake Understood  

Gemini (Allison & Cedric)
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Jake Undone (Jake, #1) (Jake & Nina)
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My Skylar (Skylar & Mitch)
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Jake Understood (Jake, #2) (Jake & Nina)
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Check out our Penelope Ward Author Spotlight for more great reads!


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