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Bully by Penelope Douglas: FAQs + Books Like It to Read Next

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

Not only has it been over 10 years since I set foot in a high school, but I also happened to hate high school while I was in it. So, when it comes to reading high school romance books, I generally steer clear. However, after seeing so much about this particular book on BookTok and reading the rave reviews, I decided to give Bully by Penelope Douglas a shot. (Kindle | Kobo | Paperback)


Now that I have, I'm able to provide you with the answer to some of the questions I had before and while reading it, as well as provide you with a list of books like Bully to read next.


What Is Bully by Penelope Douglas About?

Growing up, Tate Brandt and Jared Trent were best friends and when Tate's mom died, Jared was right by her side to get her through it. But after he returns from a summer away with his estranged father, Jared isn't the same. He cuts Tate out and starts making her life at school as miserable as possible. So, when Tate returns from an exchange in France for her senior year, she's not surprised that Jared picks up right where they left off. However, fate has other plans and as their paths keep meeting, they find it difficult to deny that there has always been something bigger between them than mean pranks and misplaced anger.


Can Bully Be Read as a Standalone or Is It Part of a Series?

While you can read Bully as a standalone, it is the first book in Penelope Douglas' Fall Away series which follows the circle of friends we are introduced to in Bully through their college years. Here is the order of the books in the Fall Away series:

  • Bully - Tate's Story

  • Until You - Jared's Story (Bully Told From Jared's Point of View)

  • Rival - Madoc's Story

  • Falling Away - K.C. and Jaxon's Story

  • Aflame - Tate and Jared's Story Conclusion


How Long Does It Take to Read Bully?

According to How Long to Read, it should take the average reader approximately 4 hours and 54 minutes to read Bully by Penelope Douglas.


Is Bully a Spicy Book? What Are the Spicy Chapters?

Yes - Bully by Penelope Douglas is a spicy book. If you're looking for the spicy chapters, skip to chapters 24, 28, 31, and 33.


How Old Are Tate and Jared in Bully?

When Bully begins, Tate and Jared are in 10th grade, which means they are 16 years old. However, the majority of the story takes place during 12th grade, their senior year, which makes them 18 years old.


Where Does Bully Take Place?

The book Bully takes place in the suburbs outside of Chicago in the United States.


Does Bully Have a Happy Ending? Do Tate and Jared End Up Together?

Yes - Bully has a happy ending! After the whole school receives a text from Jared with a sex tape of him and Tate hooking up, Tate wrecks his car. He begs her to believe it wasn't him, it wasn't a game, and he wasn't playing or bullying her like he used to. Once she agrees, they use the GPS Jared's mom had installed on his phone to track Jared's phone to a locker in the school that wasn't his. The phone was in Piper's locker, his ex-hookup, and with the whole school watching Tate and Jared find out that Piper and Nate (the guy who tried to SA Tate earlier in the book) conspired to pull it off together. She forgives Jared, pays to repay his car, and in the end, they end up together.


5 Books Like Bully by Penelope Douglas

When I went looking for books similar to Bully, I didn't think it would be too difficult to find a few good romance books that take place in either high school or college. Don't get me wrong, plenty exist. I just found that one too many had reviews warning potential readers to stay away due to problematic themes.


With that in mind, I've created a list that is more focused on books with similar tropes to those seen in Bully, rather than books with strictly high school/college-age characters.


Deviant King by Rina Kent

1. Deviant King by Rina Kent

"A dark high school bully romance. [The male main character] isn’t the normal romance hero. In fact, he’s not a hero at ALL." While this sentence could easily be used to describe Bully, it's actually from the description of Rina Kent's book, Deviant King. Here's what it's about: "I have a simple plan - finish Royal Elite School and get into my dream university. One glance from the school’s king blows my plan up in smoke. One glance and he issues his death sentence. Everything about Aiden King is black. Black mind. Black heart. Black soul. I should’ve remained quiet and endured the time I have left. But I didn't and now, I’ll pay the price. Being hated by Aiden King is dangerous, being wanted by him is lethal."


Pretty Reckless by L.J. Shen

2. Pretty Reckless by L.J. Shen

If you enjoyed the angsty teenage love and drama that came with Bully, then you're going to love the first book in L.J. Shen's All Saints High series, Pretty Reckless. As one Goodreads reviewer explained, this book "takes high school rivals, adds a splash of enemies-to-lovers, wraps it around heart-wrenching angst, and delivers one finger-licking utterly addicting page-turner." Here's the description for it: "They say revenge is a dish best-served cold. I’d had four years to stew on what Daria Followhill did to me, and now my heart was completely iced. I took her first kiss. She took the only thing I loved. Now, I’m her parents’ latest shiny project. Her housemate. Her tormentor. The captain of the rival football team she hates so much. Daria Followhill thinks she's the queen but I’m about to prove to her that she’s nothing but a spoiled princess."


Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

3. Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

One thing I wish Penelope Douglas did was tell Bully using a dual timeline. While that didn't happen, Christina Lauren did do exactly that with Love and Other Words. Not to mention, it has quite a bit in common with Bully. Just listen to this: "Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother...only to break it. As adults, they have become strangers until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence."


Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

4. Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Like Bully, Ali Hazelwood's book, Love on the Brain, is about two people who had a misunderstanding years ago, haven't spoken about it since, and are now closer to enemies than lovers. Here's what it's about: "NASA has offered Bee Königswasser the lead on a neuroengineering project - a literal dream come true. The only caveat? She has to co-lead with Levi Ward. Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school - archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away. But when her equipment starts to go missing and the staff ignore her, Bee could swear she sees Levi softening into an ally and devouring her with his eyes."


Twisted Love by Ana Huang

5. Twisted Love by Ana Huang

While the main character might be a senior in college versus a senior in high school, there's Twisted Love by Ana Huang and Bully both feature the opposites attract, alpha dark hero, and neighbors-to-lovers trope. Here's the description for those of you who haven't had the pleasure of reading this book yet: "Ava Chen is a free spirit trapped by nightmares of a childhood she can’t remember. Despite her broken past, she’s never stopped seeing the beauty in the world…including the heart beneath the icy exterior of a man she shouldn’t want. Her brother’s best friend. Her neighbor. Her savior and her downfall. Theirs is a love that was never supposed to happen—but when it does, it unleashes secrets that could destroy them both..."

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