How Do You Know When It's Real?

Hello once again to my lovely readers.  It's been a while since we last spoke, but things get pushed back and, in short, life happens.  What are you gonna do? As the French say, c'est la vie.  Anyways, I meant to write this post a while ago and tell you about this awesome book I got an advanced ARC copy of, but better late than never.  In honor of the book's release date and without further ado.... 

Have you ever wondered what it would really be like to date a rockstar? I mean, I know we all have celebrity crushes and famous people we would love to meet and get to know.  But have you ever really thought about the nitty gritty of dating someone famous? Here's another quirk in the scenario for you: what if dating a rockstar was your job and you were getting paid for it? Add in the bonus that your first impression of this famous person was pretty spectacularly bad.  I'm talking downright loathing this celebrity.  This is the beginning of Erin Watt's book When It's Real. Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley's team decides it's time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he's settled down.

Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of "normal." Under ordinary circumstances she'd never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn't have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley's team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley's a shallow, self-centered jerk? It's not like they're going to fall for each other in real life…right?

I will say right off the bat that I love Erin Watt.  This is the pen name of the writing duo Elle Kennedy and Jen Frederick, whom I was introduced to through their debut book Paper Princess.  This was the beginning of their trilogy The Royals, which another series I highly recommend.  However, When It's Real is a standalone that is truly a great, fun read!

As most people who know me know I'm a sucker for the hate-to-love trope, so for me, this book was perfect!  On one side of the ring you have Oakley Ford: a teen idol and famous pop singer who is realizing if he wants to stay relevant, he's going to need to grow up and make some serious music.  He has been in a bit of trouble and parties hard, so now no one will take him seriously.  His manager comes up with the brilliant idea overhaul his image by "fake dating" an average normal girl.  His complete opposite.  Yeah, you can already see where this is going.

On the other side of the ring, you have Vaughn Bennett.  She's the second of four children, both of her parents are dead, so she graduated high school early so she could get a job and help her older sister pay the bills and take care of their twin younger brothers.  She has a boyfriend but she's not sure exactly how she feels about him anymore.  On top of that, she's secretly not sure what she wants to do in college so she's taking a year off, under the guise of helping out her family financially.  Money is tight and this is what leads her to the deal with Oak.

There is a lot more involved in dating a celebrity than I would have originally thought.  They are surrounded by all types of people all the time.  Managers, assistants, bodyguards, etc....  Basically, they have people waiting on them hand and foot 24/7.  Oak has had this all his life due to the fact he was born to really famous actors, so its safe to say that he's very much a spoiled brat.  Vaughn comes face to face with his spoiled personality at their first meeting.  Words are exchanged and tempers flare, but Vaughn stands her ground and Oak is intrigued.  (Can I just add a side note here that this sounds a little bit like Pride and Prejudice, especially given that her last name just happens to be Bennett?  I mean a sassy, quick witted, and determined woman sparks interest in the mind of a man who's just a wee bit conceited! Sound like another Bennett woman? Anyone?? Heehee....)

So Vaughn takes on this job of fake dating Oak.  She's going to get paid quite a wad of cash for it and since her family needs the money, she decides to do it, despite the fact the bf isn't thrilled.  So Vaughn, the girl who doesn't like to be the center of attention, is thrown right into the middle of the social eye.  Oakley is very much adored by his female fans and it takes a bit for Vaughn to adjust to this.  Their love story is also so contrived, she has to do certain things on social media to keep the story going, which I found to be a little ridiculous.  But, I suppose it this is supposed to be a fake courtship, you kind of have to do it that way.

My first thoughts on Oakley was that he was a spoiled asshole.  I mean, there really is no way else to say it.  He isn't mean or nasty, he just doesn't think of anyone else but himself.  You can excuse his behavior a bit because he doesn't know any different, but he's still selfish.  Vaughn makes him aware of this right away and at first he doesn't treat her very nicely at all.  But slowly, he begins to reveal his soul underneath the exterior.  Vaughn begins to see him in a new light and this is where things start to change a bit.

I love the fact that there was no instant love or a kiss that made everything turn around and suddenly the two main characters are in love and falling into bed with each other.  While I love those types of stories in their own right, that direction just wouldn't have worked in this book.  Instead, Vaughn and Oak become friends and start talking to each other.  Oak tells Vaughn she should do what she loves most in life and not go to college just because she's supposed to or all her other friends are going.  She supports him in his efforts to make music that comes from his heart and soul, now that he is a man and no longer a teen pop star.  These two go on a journey of discovery that makes them into more matured and well rounded adults.  It's not a heavy novel, but a light-hearted read that will answer the question: how do you know when it's real?

Pick up this book at your favorite retailer and also, go check out the author's website:



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