Series: Lake State University

Defiant Little Love by Rachael Brownell

Defiant Little Love

Posted on January 5, 2023 by Nadene @ Totally Addicted to Reading in Reviews / 17 Comments

Defiant Little Love, the ninth and final book in Rachael Brownell’s Lake State University series, was one of my highly anticipated books for 2023. A mixed feeling of excitement and nervousness overcame me when I picked it up. I enjoyed all the books in the series and so my expectations for Defiant Little Love were extremely high. Well, Max and Kora’s story delivered as expected, making it a fitting conclusion to the series. Definitely worth the wait. 


Defiant Little Love by Rachael BrownellTitle: Defiant Little Love
Author(s): Rachael Brownell
Series: Lake State University #9
Also in this series: Dirty Little Secret , Tempting Little Tease, Risky Little Affair , Wicked Little Promise , Scandalous Little Obsession , Torrid Little Passion , Tangled Little Truths, Twisted Little Lies
Published by Rachael Brownell Books on January 12, 2023
Pages: 271
Genre(s): New Adult
Source: Author
Format: eArc
Purchase: Amazon
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
Series Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Heat Level: One FlameOne FlameOne Flame

There really is a fine line between love and hate. Friends and enemies.

Max Palmer is an a-hole.
And I’m in love with him. I’m pretty sure I have been since the day we met.
I’ve tried to quit him. Multiple times. But he’s an addiction that refuses to be ignored. Which is why one minute we’re together, colliding with hurricane force, and the next we’re pushing each other away, pretending not to like each other. Fighting the feelings that are bubbling just beneath the surface.
For years we’ve been able to hide our secret love affair from everyone.
I’m tired of lying to myself about the way I feel.
Of hiding the truth from the people that matter most to me. Even if I know they won’t approve. Even if my confession may destroy friendships in the process.
I’m also pissed off because he started dating one of my sisters. The same night I was ready to confess my feelings for him.
If he was looking to get a rise out of me, it worked.
I’ve wasted years with him. Lying and pretending I was happily single, focused on school so no one would suspect otherwise.
And how does he repay me?
By shoving his new relationship in my face.
Well, screw him. I’m not wasting another minute of my time crying over a man who was never really mine to begin with.
If he wants to play games, it’s on.
Because I don’t plan to lose my heart to Max Palmer.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.


It saddens me to say goodbye to the characters, but it lifted my spirit to see them overcome the obstacles, some of which were of their own doing, on their journey to happily ever after. From the start of the series, we knew Max was in love with someone. However, the identity of said person remained a mystery throughout. Two persons, Cleo and Kora, came to mind and as I went through the series, I narrowed it down to Cleo, but then book seven revealed I made the wrong choice. Kora was the one who made Max as cranky as a bear.

In Defiant Little Love, readers learn the reason Max and Kora kept their relationship secret. Now after reading this installment, I recommend the series be read in order. This installment contains spoilers for the previous books in the series. Readers who enjoy angsty stories will without a doubt love Max and Kora’s story. Their back and forth and push and pull actions, coupled with secrets and mistrust, created the perfect recipe for an angsty romance.

The back-and-forth movement between timelines reveals how the hero and heroine met. It also shed light on the hurdles they faced in their relationship up to now. In the previous books, Max came off as an overbearing and irritating jerk, but Defiant Little Love revealed him in a different light. There was so much to him than meets the eye. 

In my review of Twisted Little Lies, I mentioned my frustration with Cora. Well, this installment revealed the domino effect her actions had on Max and Kora’s relationship issues. Despite all the push and pull, I thought they made a fantastic couple. These two literally had me on edge, wondering if they will ever get it right.

I really enjoyed all the books in the Lake State University series, but Max and Kora are my favourite couple. Brownell definitely saved the best for last. If you’re looking for a fun series in a college setting, then this one is a must-read!


Story Evaluation
World Building
Writing Style
Overall: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

About Rachael Brownell

Rachael Brownell is an award-winning author of young adult and new adult romance. 

Rachael lives in Michigan with her husband, son, snuggly dog, and hateful cat. She moonlights as a bartender a few days a week (her excuse to get out of the house and socialize) and writes almost full time.  Her first book was published way back in 2013 and since she’s released 30 additional titles. She writes all kinds of romance – dark, sexy, sweet. When she’s not writing her next novel, you can find her hanging out with her family, watching her son play baseball, or running on the treadmill at the gym (though she skips more days than she goes). She also enjoys golfing but is still learning, so if you see her on the course… stand back.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Nadene @ Totally Addicted to Reading