Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris ON SALE for $ 1.99

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Synopsis: According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you're friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player. With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time. But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.

EXCERPT: An exhale of breath leaves Brandon’s lips, almost like a laugh, and he scoots closer to me on the blanket. I twist my legs under myself, sitting tall as I face him. He cups my chin and tilts it toward him, drowning me in the now dark-green depths of his eyes, the cologne I gave him for his birthday filling my head. It’s woodsy and yummy and I always loved how it smelled on the store testers, but on Brandon, it’s even sexier. My eyes flutter closed, and I inhale again, this time slowly. Goose bumps prickle my arms, and my head gets fuzzy. Brandon slides his hand down the column of my neck and brings the other up, threading his fingers through the hair at my nape. His breath fans across my cheek, and everything south of my bellybutton squeezes tight. When his mouth first meets mine, it’s hesitant, questioning. But as I move my lips with his, he quickly grows bolder, coaxing them apart. Desire, pure and raw, electrifies my veins as his tongue sweeps my mouth. A whimpering sound springs from my chest, and instinctively, I wrap my arms around his neck, tugging him closer. Needing more. My teeth graze his full bottom lip, and I pull it, sucking on it gently. He moans and knots his fingers in my hair, and a thrill dances down my back. Brandon is an amazing kisser, just as I knew he would be. I have no control over my body’s reactions. I lose myself in his lips, his tongue, and his strong arms, forgetting time and space and even my surroundings—until Gabi’s snicker brings reality crashing around us, reminding me we have an audience. And that I’m kissing Brandon. We break apart, out of breath, and stare into each other’s eyes. That was unexpected. 

Jennifer's Review:
I am a fan of Rachel Harris's books -- so this was a must read for me. 

Aly struggles with this idea of girls being classified as Casuals or Commitments. She's a clear Commitment but tries to recreate her image into a Casual because that's what she thinks guys want. 

The book takes place in high school we are talking about high school issues and the way that someone in high school would react. My point is that you have to keep that in mind with the concept/storyline of this book. I think Rachel did a good job of portraying all the potential craziness of high school -- the "catty" girls, the loyal BFFs, the parties, first love, the wanting to be part popular crowd, the concern with image, stereotypes, and journey it take for some to be comfortable in their skin, etc.. 

 Aly undergoes a "makeover" - makes some questionable choices, turns herself into somethings she's not and will never be (at least from the clothes perspective). The makeover does create more confidence in herself. She puts "success" of this "makeover" all in the hands of  the most popular boy in school -- if she can land a date with the hottest boy in school, Justin then she has accomplished her goal. I found it totally believable - clearly its a terrible idea (you shouldn't change yourself for anyone but yourself)-- but high school is full of terrible ideas, and learning from your mistakes. At the end Ally figures out that you should be true to who you are and at some point you'll meet someone who appreciates you for that. 

The romance is fluffy and light -  a quick and fun read. Brandon and Aly were friends for years (best friends for the last 3 years) then Aly undergoes her "make over", she recruits him to pretend to be her "casual" boyfriend (thankfully he is against the "make over" idea but he does pretend to be boyfriend). I didn't love that it took a "make over" for Brandon to wake up but i think the reality that Rachel was trying to protray is that sometimes people don't know what they have right before their eyes till others take notice. That's exactly what it took -- other boys noticing Ally for Brandon to stand up and realize "hey, she's not just going to be there for ME all the time". Yeah, that stinks but that's high school. 

The book is told from both Ally and Brandon's POV which I really enjoyed. Without that it would of not made any sense :-) As it was funny to see how they both got everything essentially wrong when it came to how the other felt. Displaying the lack of communication at its best. 

I would of liked some more depth into Brandon -- i.e. more background into his mom/dad and more on how that affected him -- I think that would of made me more of ok with his reactions/path/etc and made me like him more....We got that with Justin and therefore I connected with Justin more.  

The ending was great and I myself would love a second book where we get to see what happens with Justin. I liked his character change/depth was great and found myself wanting to know more about what's going to happen to Justin. I actually found myself rooting for Justin! Brandon did a nice turnaround in the end and that's what saved him in my eyes. 

About Rachel Harris: Award-winning and Bestselling author Rachel Harris writes humorous love stories about sassy girls next door and the hot guys that make them swoon. Emotion, vibrant settings, and strong relationships are a staple in each of her books...and kissing. Lots of kissing. An admitted Diet Mountain Dew addict and homeschool mom, she gets through each day by laughing at herself, hugging her kids, and watching way too much Food Network with her husband. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult romance, and LOVES talking with readers. 

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