Review: The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris
Publication Date: Sept. 2014
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: e-ARC provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 256 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Well folks, Rachel Harris has done it again! Are you ready to get your swoon on? Because Brandon Taylor is ready to bring it! I am a huge fan of Rachel's and I have loved every book she has written thus far! This book, though? Totally my favorite. The fake relationship and the best friends falling for one another are both favorite tropes of mine, so for Rachel to put them together in a young adult novel really set this one apart for me. I was devastated when I finished because I just wanted it to go on and on and on! This will definitely be one of those books I reread over and over again when I just need a big smile on my face and a flutter in my chest.
Pacing: This was such a fast, easy, enjoyable read! Once I started there was no putting it down! Except to go to bed, as I started it on a work night. :( I was bummed, but glad because this is one of those books I just wanted to savor!
Storyline: Rachel has done a great job with teen voice and setting. Finally a young adult book where we see the characters interacting in an actual young adult setting: school! I love that we got to see them at lunch, as well as after school- doing actual after school activities: working, sports practice, etc. Aly has always been a bit of a tomboy- she's great at sports and is just a guy's girl. She's friendly, sweet, and gets along with everyone. However, that has also placed her in the category of a Commitment. At Fairfield Academy, the boys have divided the girls into the Casuals and the Commitments. The Casuals are the girls guys date only once or twice- never anything serious or meaningful. The Commitments are the relationship girls- the ones you want to be with, spend time with, and see yourself having a long term thing with. Aly is tired of being a Commitment and wants to break out of that label. Her goal: have guys see her as a Casual instead of a Commitment and show up to Homecoming with someone that's not just a friend. Her eye is on Justin Carter, one of the most notorious playboys, who doesn't do relationships. The problem? She's not even a blip on Justin's radar. Her best friends Kara and Gabbi decide to help her with Operation Sex Appeal- which will give Aly a new, sexier image. Afraid that won't be enough, she enlists the help of her best friend Brandon, one of the hottest guys in the school who also only dates Casuals. What's a little fake relationship between friends to get the hottest guy in school to notice her?
Ooh boy. It sounds all well and good, but what happens when the fake relationship starts to feel not so fake anymore? Aly once crushed on Brandon and made the mistake of telling him freshmen year. Brandon, however, has never been interested in relationships because he's seen all too well the fallout that comes after they end. Yet, the new Aly doesn't go unnoticed by him. Instead, he finds himself spending TOO much time thinking about her. Will their fake relationship destroy their true friendship? The pair realize that once you cross the line, it's not so easy to go back to the way things once were.
Characters: I LOVED all the characters! Well, except Lauren.
Aly. Oh, sweet, precious Aly. I just wanted Brandon to sing One Direction's 'You Don't Know You're Beautiful' to her every time she felt insecure or the need to change. I understand Aly's plight though. Having always been friend-zoned myself, it is extremely frustrating because you don't want to be the best gal pal forever. While the makeover was only a means to an end, it helped give Aly the self-confidence she needed to make others see her for more. THAT is what confused Brandon so much. He's not some shallow guy who only notices Aly now that she's wearing sexier clothing. It's the way she handles herself and how she's working to break out of her shell to be a girl that guys take notice of.
Brandon is a great guy and I loved him to pieces. Aly has been his best friend forever and he is incredibly protective of her. He doesn't like that she is trying to get Justin's attention, because he knows Aly and he doesn't want her to get her heart broken. He vows to make sure that doesn't happen, but never in a million years did he think he'd be the one to hurt her so deeply. He is confused by his feelings and doesn't know how to handle them. His friendship with Aly is sacred and he couldn't handle losing her friendship.
Justin Carter was so much more than meets the eye. I was pretty wary of him for awhile, because he is notorious for hooking up and as much as Aly wants to be one of those girls, I knew she couldn't. He isn't afraid to make it known to Aly that she's caught his interest. He definitely has confidence and isn't shy about checking her out, even while she's with Brandon.
Kara and Gabbi, Aly's friends, were really great too. Kara is all for Operation Sex Appeal, but Gabbi was a bit more hesitant about it. When it comes out that Brandon and Aly are together, it's funny that no one acts the least bit surprised. Everyone BUT those two saw it coming. Kara is definitely the more outgoing one of the group. Gabbi, is a bit on the quieter side, but both are loyal friends to Aly.
Brandon's friends Carlos and Drew are also great. Drew is in a committed relationship and Carlos is crushing on Gabbi, but she doesn't give him the time of day.
I really love that Harris added such depth to her novel by having these secondary characters actually involved in the main characters lives. Too often we see novels where friends are so secondary we don't even give them a second thought, the focus is so on the MC's.
Final Thoughts: I just can't. I want everyone to read this book so much because it's AMAZING. I loved it to pieces and like I said, it's my favorite of Harris's yet. I really could go on and on about everything I enjoyed, but that would spoil the book!