Published by Harlequin Teen on May 30th 2017
Genres: Romance, Young Adult
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From #1 New York Times bestselling author duo Erin Watt comes the addictive contemporary tale of a teen rock star in need of an image makeover and the teen girl hired to be his fake girlfriend.
Under ordinary circumstances, Oakley Ford and Vaughn Bennett would never even cross paths.
There's nothing ordinary about Oakley. This bad-boy pop star's got Grammy Awards, millions of fangirls and a reputation as a restless, too-charming troublemaker. But with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley needs to show the world he's settling down—and who better to help him than Vaughn, a part-time waitress trying to help her family get by? The very definition of ordinary.
Posing as his girlfriend, Vaughn will overhaul Oakley's image from troublemaker to serious artist. In return for enough money to put her brothers through college, she can endure outlandish Hollywood parties and carefully orchestrated Twitter exchanges. She'll fool the paparazzi and the groupies. She might even start fooling herself a little.
Because when ordinary rules no longer apply, there's no telling what your heart will do…
I don’t read a lot of Young Adult novels. I feel like there’s just too much unnecessary drama in many of them or they contain problems that seem insignificant to me now. Trust me when I say that I get enough drama every day from my own three teens. So yeah, I’m selective when it comes to YA books. When It’s Real is light on drama and just plain fun.
Oakley is a 19-year-old rock superstar whose career is in jeopardy due to partying and scandals. He needs to clean up his image ASAP, so he hires a squeaky clean, normal girl to pose as his girlfriend. Vaughn is 17 and struggling to support her family financially. She reluctantly accepts the job of playing the humble girlfriend. Of course this book is a complete fantasy, but I enjoy a good fairytale from time to time.
This could easily be a Pretty Woman type of story where the heroine gets swept off her feet with makeovers and a wealthy lifestyle. I love Vaughn’s non-conformist attitude and how she isn’t impressed by Oakley’s fame. In fact, she is snarky and unafraid to show her disdain for him. He isn’t just another disgraced tabloid target. He’s an extremely conceited, selfish jerk, and it’s difficult to feel sorry for him in the beginning.
Vaughn and Oakley’s living situations make the storyline straddle the line between Young Adult and New Adult at times. However, with the social media posts and high school friendships, the story maintains a youthful feel. I really enjoyed how Oakley’s agent and PR person are incorporated into the plot.
When It’s Real is very different from Erin Watt’s Royals series. Don’t expect an angsty, sexy story. There’s an appealing attraction between the couple, but on a PG-13, wholesome level. This enemies to lovers romance has a wonderfully gradual build up that’s satisfying and sweet. It made a nice change of pace for me to read.
Recommended for fans of:
Rock star royalty
Enemies to lovers trope
**ARC received in exchange for an honest review.**