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When It's Real Kindle Edition
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|Length: 416 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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I think part of it is the celebrity romance type of novel... Its hard to relate to because that does not feel like everyday life for most of us, but even outside of that I have to say the connection was hit and miss. Just when I thought things might be getting more interesting or the couple was finally jiving or I felt a slight bit of chemistry the story would then go flat again. I guess that's my biggest complaint is it did not feel consistent. the couple was very hot and cold and I needed WAY more chemistry between the two. way more heat. I hope this duo continues to write more of the royal family because it seems they are very in tune with that story where I just didn't feel this story stayed consistent.
Oakley Ford is a teen phenom who has made it big in the music industry with tons of followers. He's gotten into a ton of mishaps for his party-going self and hasn't put out an album in a few years. A few years in the music industry is a very long time. The thing is, Oakley loves music, but he doesn't want to go back to the sound that's made him famous. And he needs to clean up his image in order to get a well-known producer to take him seriously and agree to work on his much for the next album.
Then there's Vaughn Bennett, a hard-working seventeen-year-old who graduated from high school early so she can pick up some jobs to help pay the bills in her family. She has an older sister and two younger twin brothers. Their parents died without leaving them much money and now it's just her and her sister trying to make ends meet. She knows she wants to go to college, but doesn't know what exactly she wants to study, unlike her friends who seem to know what they want to do with their lives. Well, when the opportunity to earn a lot of money quickly comes up by pretending to be the wholesome, girl-next-door girlfriend to famous Oakley Ford, she finds herself saying yes in order to help her family out.
I really enjoyed this book, because there's something really centered and real about the characters that also seem to apply to today's world. We've seen the teenage celebrities that have grown up way to fast with industry pressure and parents hammering in from all sides, but what this story shows is what it's like to be that celebrity. Oakley is surrounded by "yes-men" and a posse that do everything for him - from scheduling his life to running his social media accounts. He seems to have reached the point where he's outgrown his partying days, and even the spotlight. He loves making music, but he doesn't want to put out another album like he's already done. He wants something to reinvent himself and to show he's grown up. But the damage is already done on his public image, and Vaughn is his way to getting there. While Vaughn might have had a crush on Oakley when she was younger, she's completely outgrown him when they meet and after their first interaction, it's almost like a hate-to-love story (and I love the trope a lot).
The crux in this entire scenario is that Vaughn needs to be Oakley's public girlfriend. It's all smoke and mirrors, even their "interactions" on social media are begin Vaughn and Oakley's social media manager and not Oakley himself. But the problem is that Vaughn still very much as a boyfriend. I'm not sure I liked Vaughn's boyfriend, known as "W", to be such a big villain in all these. I mean, W is awful to Vaughn. He's absolutely toxic and keeps pressuring her to have sex (because all his college friends have already hooked up with girls at their parties) and uses her as an excuse for the terrible stuff he does. W is the character written to make Oakley look good. But the thing is, Oakley is a perfectly great guy once he realizes he's done something wrong and apologizes, so it seems to me that W's awfulness is a bit over-the-top.
Oakley starts off as the bad boy, when he's not really. It's more of a side-effect from the world he's grown up in and he's honestly not a terrible person. Oakley's parents are never in the picture. His parents are both famous actors, and his dad is a terrible father who never has time for his son unless photographers and reporters are involved, his mother doesn't seem quite as terrible as he makes her out to be. I loved the scene at the restaurant that's just between Oakley's mother and Vaughn. It's actually really awesome to see a well-mannered, lovely parent in YA interacting with the MCs.
Overall, I really loved reading this story and kind of makes me want this to be in a series of spin-offs, or continuing series between other characters. For one, I would love to see a story between Vaughn's older sister, Paisley, and Ty, Oakley's bodyguard. This is a quick read, and the interactions between Oakley and Vaughn are totally fun to read. They're really cute and I loved every moment they have together. So, I highly recommend this book for a fun contemporary YA. Even if you're tentative about starting this book if The Royals series wasn't for you, don't be! When It's Real has a different, more light-hearted feel to it that makes for a fantastic summer romance read!
***Thanks to Nina Bocci for providing an ARC via NetGalley***
There’s something about the writing duo that is Erin Watt. There is something intangible that makes their writing very compelling. I have been so frustrated lately because I’ve been having a hard time even finishing a book. I haven’t been able to connect to characters or find any interest in a story long enough to stick it out. But then I started When It’s Real and for some reason I couldn’t put it down.
There’s nothing inherently unique about this story. A “normal” girl and a rock star fall for each other. They each have issues from their childhood. Fans try to tear them down. There’s lots of drama and so on and so forth. But these authors found a way to take an overdone trope and elevate it enough that I was interested and wanted to keep going.
I connected well with the characters; Vaughn and Oakley had great chemistry and I really wanted to see them make it. I loved the tension in the beginning of the story and how that slowly evolved into a tentative friendship and eventually more.
I do have to say that I cringed some while reading it because it’s considered YA. This book seemed a bit mature to me. Maybe I’m becoming a prude the closer I get to my 30s or maybe it’s that I have a daughter. If you have a teenager wanting to read it, I suggest you read it first. There’s drinking, language, and sex, although the sexy scenes are mostly fade-to-black. I’m inclined to say it’s more New Adult, but again, maybe I’m just starting to forget what it was like to be a teenager.
Overall, I think this book was very well done. The writing was good, the story was sweet, and I totally fell in love with Vaughn and Oakley. I wasn’t expecting a lot since it’s classified as YA and I’m not usually one for that genre, but they completely won me over. They brought all of that magic from their series The Royals that makes you unable to put the book down and infused it in this one. I think their writing was even more developed in this book than in their past. You can tell they’ve grown together. Definitely recommend for when you need to lose yourself in a book. This one will take you back to your own days of young love and the feelings will swallow you whole.
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