BY REFERRAL ONLY Synopsis:After being unceremoniously dumped freshman year because of her family’s “new money” status, Ruby Cotton has taken care not to put her heart on the line. No matter how enticing Emilie and Quinn make it look, relationships are scary and hard—while a string of flings is easy and fun. That’s what Ruby wants. Easy and fun. The only problem is, when it comes to satisfaction in the sack, most of the boys at Whitman are nothing but pretty window dressing and false advertising.
Ruby takes it upon herself to make campus life more fulfilling, creating a referral database that allows female students to rate their sexual experiences, thereby informing girls of what they’re getting into before agreeing to a date.
When her acting partner, Liam Greene, finally shows some interest, Ruby figures she won’t need to utilize the helpful gossip. He’s handsome, fun, and most importantly, not a guy she’d ever fall for hard enough to let him break her heart.
Not only that, but dating Liam gives Ruby the perfect excuse to say no to Cole Stuart.
As a star swimmer and heir to honest-to-God Scottish royalty, Cole sits at the top of Whitman’s A-list—but he’s also the lowest rated referral on Ruby’s website. The ratings make rejecting his repeated requests for a date a no-brainer, but her real reason for avoiding Cole runs deeper than a string of unsatisfied exes.
He’s gorgeous, he oozes sweetness and charm, and the electricity between them could power half of Whitman, but Ruby knows it will only last until his family or friends convince him she’s not good enough.
Before she knows it she’s falling anyway, waiting for the other shoe to drop but clinging to a tentative hope that Cole might be as different as he seems. When the secret behind his low ratings comes to light, that hope is torn apart, and Ruby wonders if she was right to give him her heart…and whether she has the strength to let him keep it.
My Review:Another solid 4-star read from Lila Payne!
By Referral Only is Ruby Cotton's story and her story was at times hilarious but at the same time heartbreaking. After a string of guys who were less than stellar, Ruby started a referral website that rates the men at Whitman University in their skill in satisfying a girl. And one of the lowest who rated there was Cole Stuart, star swimmer and an honest to goodness Scottish royalty. In other words, totally wrong for Ruby.
Ruby has a lot of issues. All of it stemming from her insecurities as coming from "New Money" which at Whitman University, considered as second class citizens compared to those who are "Old Money." It's easy to see why she has those insecurities especially after being dumped by her boyfriend after his family disapproved of her. This made her relationship with Cole difficult considering Cole's pedigree and his sometimes reluctance to bring their relationship to the next level.
Ruby, of course, thought the worst and her insecurities got the better of her. She was constantly selling herself short and settling for Liam who was a jerk. Where was the feisty girl we met in Broken at Love? It was almost like a different person. Thank God for Emelie though. I loved how she gave Ruby a piece of her mind.
Cole Stuart was a swoony hero and he was perfect for Ruby. He was sweet, attentive, and genuinely interested in Ruby. I was dying to find out what his deal was. The fact that he and Ruby had chemistry made me suspicious as to why he rated low on the referral website. Well, when it was finally revealed, I could totally understand why he wary of hook-ups. It took a long time for him to push back his fears but when he did, he went all out.
I loved how Ms. Payne included some wonderful songs from Wicked throughout the story. That scene near the end had me in tears. It was wonderful seeing Ruby and Cole finally opening up and being vulnerable with each other.
Overall, a very enjoyable read. I do hope this series continues. I'm curious about the sexy geek Noah and I wonder if Ms. Payne has a story in store for him. :)
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About Lyla Payne:I’ve long had a love of stories. A few years ago decided to put them down on the page, and even though I have a degree in film and television, novels were the creative outlet where I found a home. I’ve published Young Adult under a different name, but when I got the idea for Broken at Love (my first New Adult title), I couldn’t wait to try something new – and I’m hooked. In my spare time I watch a ton of tennis (no surprise, there), play a ton of tennis, and dedicate a good portion of brain power to dreaming up the next fictitious bad boy we’d all love to meet in real life.
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