Publication: April 10th 2017 by Entangled Crush
Source: I received an ARC copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Ayla Hawkins knows where she’s going in life. She’s editor-in-chief of her school newspaper; she’s just landed the lead role in her school play; and she’s going to Columbia University as soon as high school is over. So when her best friend Chloe insists on her running as school president, Ayla isn’t so sure she’s up for the task. But when her school’s drama club budget is cut (yet again) along with the threat of the school paper going online-only in order to funnel more funding into sports, Ayla realizes she has to stand up for herself and the other kids in her school who aren’t sports-inclined. Only how is she supposed to win when no one knows who she is and she’s running against the most popular girl in school who has won the presidency the past three years? Ayla’s chance is granted when she stumbles across Luke Pressler, the school’s star basketball player, and his two fellow teammates intoxicated and destroying public property in the local park one night. Ayla captures it all on her cell phone and hatches the perfect plan: to blackmail Luke Pressler into pretending to be her boyfriend and help her win the election. With Luke having the chance at a full-ride to a Big Ten university, he can’t chance his actions getting out and facing criminal charges and the loss of his scholarship. So Luke agrees to Ayla’s terms. But as their fake relationship goes on, Luke finds a solace and a much-needed confidante in his blackmailer and Ayla realizes that Luke is very different from what her past prejudices were. And as the election looms and they grow closer, the lines start to get blurred about what exactly is fake in their relationship…and what might be real.
I instantly fell in love with this cute little contemporary romance. While the premise may sound overdone and clichéd, this book is filled with such fun, relatable characters and just the perfect amount of quirkiness that it completely avoids falling prey to the trope. Contemporary romance is not normally my favorite to read but every so often I find one that is so well-done that I fall in love with it. This is one of them. (And I’ve already read it twice).
I really loved the characters that are featured in this book. Ayla is such a relatable and genuine character that I feel many readers will connect with her. With her nerdy interests that include Doctor Who, Zelda, and Minecraft, and her obsession with her favorite food of pizza, she’s not the typical YA main character. I also love that Ayla is plus-sized and embraces herself for who she is and never lets it hold her back. She is certainly a character that I would find myself friends with. I loved getting to know Luke as he revealed the true circumstances of his life. That he’s not just some jock with an easy life with rich parents, but instead struggles to help feed his divorced mom and brother while keeping his grades up and performing well in basketball. Instead of the typical jock, we get to see someone who is just barely holding it together and feels like they have to put up a façade to fit in, just like so many other high schoolers. While the focus of the story is on the romance, there’s certainly some real issues that are touched on in this book and I really appreciated that.
I also found the writing style and pacing to be extremely engaging and finished this book in two days. While I normally don’t care for alternating points of view in books, Purdy did such an amazing job with it that I loved the alternating chapters between Ayla and Luke. Both characters had unique voices and I loved getting to see how each of their opinions changed about the other as the book went on. The chapters also flowed together seamlessly so I never found myself irritated with being taken from an engaging event to something else in other author’s attempts in creating suspense. Overall, the writing style and plot were just done so well. There’s also a nice small-town feel to the book with the characters going on hayrides and making s’mores by the fire which was a fun aspect. There are definitely some typical YA tropes in this book but overall I loved the romance so much in this that it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of it at all.
Basically if you’re looking for the next cute contemporary romance must-read, this is it. While it does come with the disclaimer of adult language and sexual situations, I personally feel that there didn’t need to be a disclaimer for sexual situations since they are very minor. The adult language though? Yeah, that’s fitting. If you get any amount of enjoyment out of contemporary romances, pick this book up. You won’t regret it.
What do YOU think? Would you ever blackmail someone into pretending to be your significant other in order to get something you want? Do you want your own Ayla Hawkins or Luke Pressler now? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you.
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Before the football game got started, the announcer came over the loudspeakers to tell the fans about the booth. Hoots and hollers went up through the crowd, and soon we had a long line of students waiting for their turns.
I stood near the booth, making sure to thank everyone for coming out and to actually talk to them. Surprisingly, they seemed receptive to me and my ideas.
“I’m so glad you’re running,” a girl named Brooklyn said. “It’d be nice to have someone normal as president, you know. Someone who cares about the art programs.”
I smiled. “Thanks. I promise, I’ll be fighting hard for those things.”
When halftime rolled around, we still had students lined up. Partially because Stacy promised to post pics on our school newspaper’s social media pages, and partially because I think people liked the idea of taking crazy photos with the popular kids.
The volleyball team left to take their places on the field, and I trudged to one of the chairs behind the booth. I so wasn’t ready for this. Chloe sat next to me. Thank God I didn’t have to do this alone.
“Here, put on some red lipstick. You want to stand out, you know.” She laughed, dabbing my lips. “Now smack them together.”
Trying to ignore the small group standing around us, I did as she said. A few guys hopped into Chloe’s line for a pic, but mine didn’t have anyone yet. And of course the girls were lined for Brady and Jack. I glanced around nervously. This was kind of embarrassing—no one wanted to be seen with me. Did I have something stuck on my face? Maybe I wasn’t pretty enough. Then someone came to stand in front of me. My gaze slid up to find Luke. He held up a twenty-dollar bill, then put it into the can. What was he doing? I knew he didn’t have that kind of money. But my thoughts quickly turned from his money to the fact he was paying to take a picture with me.
“So, what do we want to wear in our photo?” Luke said, reaching for a pair of dark shades and a ridiculously large cowboy hat.
“Um, I’ll take this…” I grabbed a large purple boa and wrapped it around my neck, pulling on a pair of long, lacy white gloves.
We stepped inside the booth…and lined up in front of a computer screen that Chloe’s dad let us borrow, which showed both our faces on it.
“I think we ought to make this a really memorable picture, don’t you?” Luke’s voice sounded deeper.
He moved toward me, his breath warm against my cheek. He wasn’t even looking at the camera. Then it dawned on me what was about to happen. Holy shit. My first kiss. And it’d be with Luke. Freaking. Pressler.
Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book features adult language, sexual situations, and plenty of girl power. Reading may result in swooning, laughing, and looking for a Luke of your own.
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