Publisher: Flirt on August 19, 2014
Reading Challenges: 2014 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2014 Standalone Reading Challenge
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In this electrifying novel from New Adult sensation Cassie Mae, two close friends surprise themselves by shifting from platonic love to sexual attraction.
Eric Matua has one friend—his best friend and childhood sweetheart, who needs a place to stay for the summer. Mia Johnson has thousands of friends—who live in her computer. Along with her email chats and Facebook notifications, Mia also devours romance novels, spending countless hours with fictional characters, dreaming of her own Romeo to sweep her off her feet. When she starts receiving supersweet messages from a stranger who thinks she’s someone else, Mia begins to believe that real love is possible outside her virtual world.
When the two friends become roommates, Mia finds herself falling harder than she ever thought she could. But Eric keeps his desires locked away, unsure of himself and his ability to give his best friend what she deserves in a boyfriend. As her advances are continually spurned, Mia splits her time between Eric and her computer. But she soon realizes she’s about to lose the only real thing she’s ever had.
The Real Thing was interesting but pretty predictable. Once we were in on Eric’s background it as easy for me to predict what was going to happen. This kind of took away from the plot because I was expecting everything that happened about half way into the novel. So when these things happened, I felt no thrill or excitement. There wasn’t really much going on, plot-wise, other than finding out about Eric’s past and seeing how he deals with it and his relationship with his best friend, Em. Eric’s story was, perhaps, the most exciting thing that was going on with the plot for the duration of the novel. Despite the slightly dull and predictable plot, it was still an engaging read.
I actually didn’t like Em much. She was addicted to social media and networking and it made me feel distanced from her character, much like Eric felt in the actual novel. With her being constantly “plugged in” it was difficult for me to find something in her character to relate to. She was always assuring Eric that she would fix her problem, but it came off to me like she wasn’t really trying. At least, not nearly as much as Eric was trying to overcome his problems for her. Because of this I thought of her character as a bit careless in addition to disconnected.
Eric was perhaps the shining light in this novel. Eric was damaged, definitely, but not in the way that you think of “damaged book boys”. Eric was the fat friend. He was pretty much in a verbally abusive relationship that made his already bad social-anxiety worse. He wasn’t able to get close to Em. He saw a doctor, he took medication for it. All these flaws, though, made him come off as one of the realest book characters that I’ve read to date. He was caring, determined, nice, and supportive. He was forgiving and nonjudgmental. His character had a depth to it that I haven’t seen in a while.
This romance was one of my favorite types: friends to lovers. That being said, it was different from many of the other romances that I’ve read that fall under this category. Eric and Em had a genuine feeling relationship, most likely because of the things that Eric went through and his insecurities. He wasn’t the confident, sexy best friend who became more. He was the fat friend when many of the feelings in this novel developed. Em and Eric were supportive of each other as they struggled with their respective problems. They made each other better, even though they had their lapses in judgment. You could definitely see that they didn’t lose their best-friends title when they became more than friends. All of this just really made their romance feel like, well, The Real Thing.
The Real Thing was a sweet yet emotional friends-to-lovers romance.