Friday, May 12, 2017

Review: When It's Real by Erin Watt

Title: When It's Real
Author: Erin Watt
Series: Standalone
Release Date: May 30, 2017


Wealth, fame and a real-life romance she never expected—seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett lands it all when she agrees to become a pop star's fake girlfriend in this smart, utterly addictive novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author duo Erin Watt

Under ordinary circumstances, Oakley Ford and Vaughn Bennett would never even cross paths.

There's nothing ordinary about Oakley. This bad-boy pop star's got Grammy Awards, millions of fangirls and a reputation as a restless, too-charming troublemaker. But with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley needs to show the world he's settling down—and who better to help him than Vaughn, a part-time waitress trying to help her family get by? The very definition of ordinary.

Posing as his girlfriend, Vaughn will overhaul Oakley's image from troublemaker to serious artist. In return for enough money to put her brothers through college, she can endure outlandish Hollywood parties and carefully orchestrated Twitter exchanges. She'll fool the paparazzi and the groupies. She might even start fooling herself a little. 

Because when ordinary rules no longer apply, there's no telling what your heart will do…


This is as real and as awful and as wonderful as it gets. I’d hold her forever if she’d let me.

After loving the bestselling Royals series, reading When It's Real was an easy decision to make. Yes, their previous books were filled with a whole lot of drama, and it wasn't for everyone. But somehow they worked their magic, and I couldn't have stopped reading them if my life depended on it. Erin Watt, the author duo of Elle Kennedy and Jen Frederick, warned readers not to expect more of the same. The series being categorized as Mature YA, and this standalone as traditional YA, they're obviously going to have a different slant to them. And I was all for that. Unfortunately this one didn't completely win me over as I had hoped. Don't get me wrong, it was still enjoyable, just missing that extra wow factor that I was hoping for.

Oakley Ford is a nineteen year old rock star who shot to fame at the age of fourteen with his mainstream pop albums reaching double platinum. Now feeling jaded, apathetic, and unable to create anything that he's proud of, he's stuck in a major rut.

I feel like I’ve drunk, smoked, ingested and experienced nearly everything the world has to offer in the past five years. Am I already the washedup pop star before I hit my twenties?

My first impression of Oak was that he was an overindulged guy who thought very highly of himself. But knowing there could be some character growth, I wasn't judging too harshly. And thankfully, his interaction with Vaughn brought about a lot of soul searching and a shift away from his ego. When you grow up in Hollywood as the child of two A-list stars, and then find your own path to fame, it's easy to see how it could cause one to take things for granted and get wrapped up in the adulation. There were flashes though, even in the beginning, when he had an irresistible charisma about him that will make you sit up and take notice.

Vaughn Bennett was your everyday "normal" girl who is far away from the glamorous world that Oak is a part of. After the tragic loss of her parents, she didn't have the luxury of being careless and free anymore. She finished school early and began waitressing in order to help support her family. She and her older sister Paisley take care of their twelve-year old twin brothers adequately enough, but there isn't much hope for college funds in the near future. So when the unusual opportunity to boost Oak's public opinion with a fake relationship falls in her lap, she knows there's no way she could turn down the financial windfall.

Seeing these two interact initially, they butt heads quite a bit. I admired her for her lack of celebrity worship, she treated him appropriately based on his character. She also didn't keep quiet when he let his conceit run away with him. Their combative relationship slowly cooled as their publicity "dates" increased. Suddenly, they discovered that their artificial publicity stunt was proving to feel much more substantial and meaningful. However, the little matter of Vaughn's boyfriend put a damper on them coming clean about their attraction.

For most of the book, I would have easily rated this a solid four stars. It was after they were both single, attraction and deeper feelings were involved, that Vaughn started behaving childishly and I couldn't look at her the same again. I always saw her as the one with her head on straight. Yes, she was lacking direction in choosing what she wanted to do with her life, but who isn't at her age? They were both looking to discover their true selves in a sense. However, Vaughn's behavior was uncharacteristically immature at one event in the book and the whole situation didn't feel realistic to me. It was so surprising, I had a hard time believing that it had actually happened at first. The conflict that arose from what she did came back a second time later on, and my frustration came back full force.

Though this book wasn't an enthusiastic five for me personally, for many readers I know it will hit all the right spots. The lack of angst and the light, easy pace of it makes it a perfect read if you're looking for something quick and sweet.


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