I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.
Published by Harlequin Teen on 2017-05-30
Length: 416 pages
Reviewing eARC from Netgalley
Reading Challenges: #NGEW2017, 2017 New Release Challenge
From #1 New York Times bestselling author duo Erin Watt comes the addictive contemporary tale of a teen rock star in need of an image makeover and the teen girl hired to be his fake girlfriend.
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?
All I can say is WOW!!! When It’s Real by the author duo known as Erin Watt was a fantastic, contemporary read (and friends that comes from someone who doesn’t care for contemporary). Following the story of a former teen heart throb wanting to remake his rockstar image and the girl hired to be his fake girlfriend, I could not read it fast enough! I loved the characters, the story, and the combustible romance that followed.
Oakley Ford is an enigma. I honestly wanted to hate him. He is arrogant and entitled, two things I personally cannot stand, yet Oak grew on me. The son of a former Hollywood power couple, Oak has a role he was born to play and he is trying to break that model. He doesn’t want to be the teen heart throb pop singer any more. He wants to be taken seriously, he wants to reinvent himself. And honestly, I had to respect that even if the how is questionable.
Vaughn Bennett is the answer to Oak’s problems….sort of. At least that is what his management team convinces him of. Vaughn is a highly, independent girl with a ton of emotional baggage. Her parents died when she was young, leaving her and her older sister to raise themselves and younger brothers. It’s forced Vaughn to become an adult too early. She doesn’t know how to relax and she finds comfort in the familiar. When promised a ton of money to be Oak’s fake girlfriend, she waffles. I don’t blame her, in fact I admire her for it. The money is enough to make their living situation comfortable and pay for her brothers’ college tuitions. Yet she’d have to be something she isn’t to someone she really doesn’t like after their first meeting.
The plot is character driven which is something I have always loved. I love seeing the progression a character makes. In this story, it not only follows Oak and Vaughn’s relationship, but also them as they grow and understand their own baggage. Vaughn is broken in ways she didn’t realize and Oak is just starting to repair himself so he can pursue the life he wants. I loved reading their story and seeing their growth on the pages.
Overall, I highly recommend this if you are looking for a fun, beach read or a swoon-worthy weekend. When It’s Real encompasses everything I love about a good romance: complex characters, humor, and friendship before lust. If you enjoy Kelly Oram (who I LOVE) or enjoyed The Royals series, you want to grab a copy of this book!