Series: Redemption #0.5
Publisher: Flirt on October 28, 2013
Reading Challenges: 2014 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2014 Review Pile Reading Challenge, 2014 Rewind Challenge
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The rules are clear—until they're broken. Lauren Layne puts a New Adult spin on Pygmalion, also the inspiration for Pretty Woman, and gives the classic love story its edgiest twist yet.
"Who knew that pretending you're not falling for someone would be so much more difficult than pretending that you are?"
Stephanie Kendrick gave up her whole summer to ace her NYU film school screenwriting course, so she's pissed to be stuck with a preppy, spoiled frat boy as her writing partner. Then again, with her piercings, black-rimmed eyes, and Goth wardrobe, Stephanie isn't exactly Ethan Price's type, either. He's probably got his eye on some leggy blonde with a trust fund... or does he?
As the summer scene kicks off in the Hamptons, Ethan is desperate to make his snobbish mother forget the pedigreed girl who broke his heart. While Stephanie's a stretch as a decoy, the right makeover and a pastel cardigan just might do the trick. She may not love the idea of playing Ethan's brainless Barbie girlfriend, but the free rent and luxurious digs make a tempting offer. So does the promise of a ready-made screenplay idea inspired by their charade.
But when Stephanie steps into Ethan's privileged world, the "acting" begins to feel all too real. The kissing and touching that were intended to fool the Hamptons crowd wind up manipulating "them." And Stephanie faces a question she's too afraid to ask: Is Ethan falling for the real her or for the dolled-up princess he wants to see?
“The distinction between harmless and not-so-harmless touch is infinitesimal here, but I’ve definitely crossed the line.”
“‘Oh, honey,’ Amy says, as she gestures to the server for another round. ‘Life is nothing but phases. Some things stick, lots of things don’t. You’ll figure it out.’”
“I should have been the one to see it on my own, without my ex girlfriend spelling it out for me. I should have realized that what Stephanie and I felt together was every bit as real when we were in pastels, or naked, or wearing spikes and leather.”
“‘I could eat,’ she interrupts. ‘But don’t even think about taking me to one of those uppity multi-coursed, tiny-plate monstrosities.’ I roll my eyes. ‘No prob, I’ll just cancel all the dozens of reservations I’d made in hope that my film partner would want to go to an elaborate ten-course meal at four in the afternoon.’ ‘You’re very sarcastic.’ ‘Me?’ I ask. ‘Honey, your sense of humor is drier than astronaut food.’”
I love the idea of fake-to-real relationships! They’re my favorite!
This novel follows Stephanie, a hard-as-nails girl with a burden she’s been carrying for years, when she’s paired with the rich and preppy Ethan for a summer class. Assignment? Write a screenplay. Except Ethan and Stephanie are complete opposites. So when Ethan proposes that Stephanie act as his girlfriend to get his mother off of his back, of course she’s apprehensive. But it gives for a good plot line for their screenplay, and she would rather live with Ethan than with her cheating ex-boyfriend. So she takes up his offer to become the perfectly created girlfriend.
This novel was interesting to say the least. It was based on of Pygmalion, and there was real corporation of theatrics and screenplay writing in the novel. There was always snarky dialogue, even through there wasn’t a solid or concrete plot line. Nonetheless, it kept me engaged from beginning to end.
“Everyone is staring at us in confusion, and I don’t blame them. I look like the ‘troubled girl’ who parents warn their kids away from, and Ethan looks like the Homecoming King. In no ecosystem should we even be acknowledging each other’s existence. And yet, we both came in late, practically together, and now he’s being all winky and you-dropped-this, making it seem like we actually know each other.”
Stephanie was our protagonist. She was a snarky spitfire, to sum her up. She didn’t take any crap from anyone, and she had a protective wall up around her heart due to earlier events. She lost people important to her, and she completely changed personality. When she starts falling for the preppy Ethan, she rebels against it with all her might. But eventually, she finds herself enjoying playing dress up, which closely resembles how she was before in high school. She was definitely a complex character, and her chapters showed that. She was fighting with herself and her demons for a majority of the novel.
“Stephanie’s palms slam down on the table as she half rises out of her chair, giving me a look of death. ‘I knew it,’ she hisses. ‘You’re ashamed of me, Ethan Price. Because I don’t wear pearls and can’t afford Chanel, and can’t ride dressage…’ I involuntarily lean back in my chair, trying to escape the scorned non-girlfriend on steroids. And what the fuck is dressage?”
Ethan was the love interest. He was the pretty boy. So when he’s attracted to the goth-looking Stephanie, he’s disgusted with himself. So he creates a new Stephanie that’s acceptable for his social circles, but continues to fall for the girl underneath. Ethan struggled with demons of his own, specifically involving his ex-girlfriend of almost a decade, his best friend, his mom, and his best friend’s dad. It was a mess, really. But Ethan was a jerk for a majority of the novel, which prevented me from completely falling in love with his character. He was just really shallow up until the end.
“‘I know we agreed that this would only last until school started again, and I know you’re planning to move into the dorms and all that, but…’ ‘But?’ I whisper. His eyes are on my lips. ‘But we make pretty good roommates. And even better lovers. And I was thinking, I was wondering, if you want to, I was hoping that you might, you know…stay.’”
Their romance was interesting, engaging, and complex. They were fighting feelings for each other, and the lines were definitely blurring between real and fake. It was interesting to see them come into the attraction that was there from the beginning, but they didn’t just give in. Oh no, there were fights, tears, and rejection. That made their getting together that much sweeter. I loved it, because it was realistic.
Isn’t She Lovely was right up my alley–I love a cute and fluffy read starring fake-to-real relationships and opposite attracts!