Title: When It’s Real
Author: Erin Watt (Elle Kennedy + Jen Frederick)
Release date: 30th May 2017
Rating: 4.25 stars
ARC kindly given by the author in exchange for an honest review
It’s been a long time since I read a YA and I have to say what a pleasant way to get back in the game! When It’s Real is without a doubt a highly enjoyable read. It’s light, it’s young, it’s… fresh.
Some of the things I appreciated the most were the social media shenanigans to build their fake relationship, as well as the hilarious tweets from Oak’s fans. The premise wasn’t anything too original, but it’s one of those tropes we can never get enough, now, can we?
Hot shot wild celebrity being tamed by his normal fake-girlfriend, after great banter and a bit of head-butting. What’s not to love?
So yeah, I adored the idea even though it was a huge pile of guilty pleasures, because, c’mon when is this ever happening in real life? We’re lucky enough if we manage to score a hot guy with a three digits QI. Never mind playing us serenades or writing songs about us. But this is a book, so who cares, right?
Now let’s talk about the characters. I want to give kudos to the writers for making Oakley realistic in his spoiled ways. He’s famous, he’s got the world at his feet and he does treat those around him like they are only there to serve him at times. Not in a completely a-holish way, but just that little bit to make him more believable. Seeing him change with Vaughn was my favorite part. I loved the rock-star, but seeing the young man who only wants to plays his music and hang around with some friends like normal people do really warmed my heart.
(I have a thing for guys with sexy voices. To me the voice is as much of a turn on as the physical aspect, so you can easily understand how I felt about Oak)
“Babe, you’re totally sulking. It’s incredibly unattractive if I’m being honest.” I’m grinning as I say it.
A reluctant smile tugs on her lips. “You know what else is unattractive? Watching you stuff your face with hot dogs all night. How do you not weigh five hundred pounds?”
Operation Distraction is a success. “I work out.” I flex both biceps at her. “Guns like these don’t grow on trees.”
“What is it with you and your guns? You’re obsessed with yourself, dude.”
“Why shouldn’t I be? I’m a hottie.”
“You laugh, but we both know you agree. Come on, say it — you’re a hottie, Oak.“
Vaughn was the perfect match for him because she. Won’t. Put. Up. With. None. Of. His. Shit. Her Cinderella-like story was a bit overdramatic, but her situation with W was 100% believable and it made me feel for her when she was torn between giving her whole family a better future, and staying true to her love for her boyfriend.
“Half the time when you open your mouth, you say something that makes me want to punch you.” Vaughn gives a rueful smile. “But when you sing… you make it really hard to hate you.”
Another thing which deserves a mention is the famous W. Yes, people, we have a triangle. And honestly, said triangle lasts even a very long while. Want to know the whole truth? There were times, especially at first, when I was almost rooting for W. I know, I’m the kind of gal who roots for the loser, but it was when Oak was still being a jerk and W was such a caring boyfriend… almost all the time. I think out of all the characters, he was the most believable. He’s not a bad guy. He’s not abusive or evil. He’s human and a closer description to a normal boyfriend than any of all those book-boyfriends we read about. Still, his presence unfortunately prevented Oak and Vaughn from getting really closer at first and IMO it took them a bit too long to get together.
She grabs the phone back. “He’s not a douche. He’s great.”
“Okay, tell me what’s so great about him,” I challenged. [Oak].
“He’s… kind… he’s funny…” She trails off. “He’s kind.”
Kind? Man, if any girl ever describes me as kind in the same lukewarm tone, I hope someone takes me out back and shoots me. “You said that already.”
I guess the problem here is that I’m not used to YA anymore and even slow burns in NA and Adult fiction aren’t that slow. The thing is… I couldn’t feel the emotional connection between the two MCs at first. Oak is bewildered by how unimpressed Vaughn is with him and she is only physically attracted to him. It grew with time, sure, but not soon enough for me, I guess. Hence why the 4 stars.
On the plus side, the final issue was okay, I liked how it wasn’t really anyone’s fault, at least not the MC’s and the very ending was indeed sweet. I would have liked to know what Vaughn ended up choosing for her future.
Last, but absolutely not least, the style. It was really good, beyond good. The pace was fast, the read was light enough to be entertaining but the characters deep enough to make me feel their struggles and dreams. Oak’s situation with his music, Vaughn’s drama with W and her economical situation, they were a bit cliché but still great to read about.