Published by Harlequin Teen on May 30th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
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?
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Light, sweet, and angst-free, When It’s Real is a great summer read! It’s a fluff fest that will leave butterflies inside your belly and a perma-smile on your face long after finishing the book.
At nineteen years old, world-renowned pop star Oakley Ford has reached Bieber-level notoriety in partying and philandering, and his label is getting sick of it. He hasn’t released anything since his successful album “Ford”, and everyone—including Oakley—is worried he’s turning into a washout.
The first step into reviving his career—a reputation repair. In this case, they believe a faux-mance PR stunt would be perfect to help fix his career and convince one of the best producers in town to collaborate with Oakley.
Enter Vaughn Bennett, seventeen-year-old sister of Paisley who works in Oakley’s talent management company. Her parents’ death leaves Vaughn, Paisley, and their twin brothers strapped for cash, and she and Paisley work hard every day to keep their family afloat. Oakley’s management thinks she’s perfect for the role—she’s wholesome and ordinary, not at all flashy like everything in Hollywood.
Oakley and Vaughn did not have the best first meeting, but she could use the cash to support her family. She goes along with it and is dragged to parties, outings and public appearances as Oakley’s girlfriend. What starts out as a ruse turns into so much more as the two get to know each other and finally enjoy each other’s company.
It wouldn’t be an Erin Watt novel without a hero you love to hate and hate to love, and a strong heroine who doesn’t cower and bend. Oakley started out as this typical rock star hero who thinks he can get away with anything, but as the story went on, it was absolutely adorable to see him slowly change into someone less Hollywood and more human. His interactions with Vaughn’s brothers and his affection for her made my heart flutter and swoon!
Vaughn is hard-working, strong, and kind. Most times, she will stand up for herself and will not tolerate crap, especially Oakley’s. She will do anything for her family and everyone she cares about, but sometimes her kindness is taken advantage of. Perfect example is her ex-boyfriend, d*ckhead W. Even his name is douche-y.
The pacing was just right until a little bit in the end. I would have wanted more space for the conflict before the ending. It felt rushed and added in the last minute, so it’s what’s kept me from giving this five stars. Vaughn also did a thing that bothered me. View Spoiler »She kissed the creep, Luke. While she was drunk, yes, but she had a really stupid explanation. I’m surprised she got off scot-free. « Hide Spoiler
Other than that, I really enjoyed this book! It was mostly light and fluffy, and it made me grin a lot. I loved the moments when Oakley became clingy/cuddly. Adorable.
When It’s Real is a standalone young adult novel told in alternating POVs. It’s a lot different to this duo’s previous books (The Royal series—angst-filled romance woohoo!), but it’s still as engaging, fun, and lovable. A perfect read for the summer.
P.S. Vaugn’s ex is a d*ck.
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