Be My Downfall by Lyla Payne

be my downfall



Toby Wright has always prided himself on being one of the most normal guys at Whitman University. He loves his parents, has a great job lined up after graduation, and with the exception of attempting to cross the unbalanced Sebastian Blair sophomore year, has kept his nose pretty clean.

But the rich never have empty closets, and memories long stashed away come spilling free when notorious party girl Kennedy Gilbert almost dies in his bathroom.

Nobody really knows how Kennedy manages to stay in good standing at Whitman–she never goes to class, doesn’t pretend to care about her future, and as far as people can tell, is never sober. This isn’t her first meeting with a stomach pump, but it is the first time she’s woken up to Toby’s concerned brown eyes. Despite the fact that she prefers life without friends, he gets under her skin with his insistence on playing her guardian angel.

No one knows better than Toby that people can only be saved if they want to be, but the realization that she has no one else draws him back into the shadows of Kennedy’s life–and eventually into her bed. But she long ago came to terms with a truth that Toby refuses to accept: she doesn’t want to be rescued, she only wants to forget.

Unwilling to give up on her, Toby’s dragged under by this broken girl and her dark, twisted Whitman University he never guessed existed. If he struggles to the surface, he’ll abandon someone he loves for the second time in his life. If he doesn’t, it won’t be long until they both drown.


“Toby, wake up, man. I need to talk to you.”


The male voice startled me out of a dreamless sleep and I landed on the floor, my limbs and back screaming after sleeping in a chair for two nights. I could have gone home—Kennedy asked me to more than once—but I didn’t want to leave her. Partly because the thought of leaving her alone infected me with jittery nerves, and partly because of my well-founded fears that she would yank out her I.V. and escape before we could figure out where we went from here.


I blinked several times to wet the contact lenses stuck to my eyeballs, and eventually made out Sebastian’s smugly handsome mug. After I managed to get back on my feet and check to make sure Kennedy still slept, I jerked my head toward the hallway.


Sebastian followed, shutting the door behind him. I had a vague idea what day it was, but as far as the time, it was anyone’s guess. Still, my batshit crazy frat brother looked as put together as ever in dress pants, a vest and button up, and a coat. He had a coffee in one hand, which he handed over to me, and a newspaper tucked under an arm.


It was hard to hate someone who brought coffee, but the memory of him smiling with restrained glee as a burly senior kicked my ass last year helped.


“What are you doing here?” The coffee, some kind of expensive South American roast, tasted like heaven.


“I thought you’d want to see this.” He slapped the newspaper into my chest, then went on calmly. “You know I’m in charge of public relations issues at the frat, so we can work this together if you want…”


His words faded into the background as the headline and accompanying photographs assaulted my eyes and trickled into my brain.


Battered Whitman Co-ed Recovering

Senator Wright’s youngest son denies involvement


The pictures of Kennedy’s sleeping, battered face and the article, complete with quotes from a certain not-so-anonymous nurse, made it clear that the reporter assumed me guilty. Hell, if I was looking at her face and the facts, I’d assume I was guilty.


“My father is going to hit the fucking roof,” I mumbled, still trying to process.


“Oh, he’s broken through the roof and is headed for the clouds. Your phone is dead. He’s been calling the house. His communications director is on her way here now.”


I groaned. Miriam was a huge pain, and she wasn’t going to be any happier than my dad. At least he wasn’t coming to yell at me himself. “Okay. I’m sure she can handle it.”


“If you can get Crazy Eights in there to make a statement that it wasn’t you, that would be best—the reporter who wrote this story will write a follow-up if we ask him to.”


“Don’t call her crazy, Seb. And I’ll see what I can do, but you and I both know we can’t force her to do anything.”


“On the contrary. I’m guessing by the looks of her that you’ve discovered that she rather enjoys at least the illusion of being forced.”


I had him slammed up against the wall, coffee discarded and leaking all over both of our clothes, before I realized what I was doing. He would make me pay, but we were here now, so might as well let it fly.


“Let’s get one thing straight. I’m not like you. I don’t hurt girls, even if they ask me to, and I especially didn’t hurt that one. She’s…I don’t know what exactly she is to me, but from now on, you check with me before you so much as look at her. Got it?”


His brown eyes held a lazy expression, but it had an edge to it. Like a snake getting ready to strike, it didn’t mean he wasn’t paying attention, or plotting my demise. I let him go after he nodded.


Seb spent several deliberate moments straightening his clothes. The tension in the air didn’t dissipate one bit. “I’m going to let that slide, because your life is a fucking shitshow. But if you ever put your hands on me again, I’ll chop them off and feed them to you like cheap-ass flank steak.”




He left without another word, leaving me alone in the hallway. Shit. I did not need my parents on my ass right now. Whether or not this story was true, it didn’t look good.


Be My Downfall by Lyla Payne is another book in the Whitman University series. This is a standalone novel so you do not need to read the others to understand this one. But, the characters are introduced in the other books as friends of the previous main characters, but this is their time to shine!

The previous two books about Whitman University were really light reads, but Lyla Payne took a much different approach with Be My Downfall. It has much darker material and it did take me some time to process what all was happening. Most people I went  to college with, including myself, were known to partake in an “adult” beverage from time to time, but Be My Downfall takes an in-your-face look into college students and alcoholism.

I found myself rooting for Toby and Kennedy. They have so much to face, to confront, to overcome individually and together. Lyla Payne has once again wrote a story that readers could connect to and By My Downfall is a reminder that the power of love can help us overcome anything.

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of Be My Downfall in exchange for an honest review.




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.



BE MY DOWNFALL on Goodreads




Twitter: @lyla_payne


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  1. Marcy Meyer says:

    I haven’t read this series yet, so I don’t have a favorite character. Would love to read them though! Thanks for the giveaway chance!

  2. I haven’t read anything by this author yet but I plan to!

  3. Thanks for the giveaway!!

  4. Love this series! Thanks for the giveaway 🙂

  5. Shirley Williamson says:

    Not read the series yet but it sounds great!

  6. Rita Luken says:

    I have not read this series..but if sounds awesome and would love to win so I could read them! Thanks for the chance

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