When It’s Real by Erin Watt
Synopsis: Under ordinary circumstances, Oakley Ford and Vaughn Bennett would never even cross paths.
There’s nothing ordinary about Oakley. This bad-boy pop star’s got Grammy Awards, millions of fangirls and a reputation as a restless, too-charming troublemaker. But with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley needs to show the world he’s settling down—and who better to help him than Vaughn, a part-time waitress trying to help her family get by? The very definition of ordinary.
Posing as his girlfriend, Vaughn will overhaul Oakley’s image from troublemaker to serious artist. In return for enough money to put her brothers through college, she can endure outlandish Hollywood parties and carefully orchestrated Twitter exchanges. She’ll fool the paparazzi and the groupies. She might even start fooling herself a little.
Because when ordinary rules no longer apply, there’s no telling what your heart will do…
About the Author: Erin Watt is the brainchild of two bestselling authors linked together through their love of great books and an addiction to writing. They share one creative imagination. Their greatest love (after their families and pets, of course)? Coming up with fun–and sometimes crazy–ideas. Their greatest fear? Breaking up. You can contact them at their shared inbox: firstname.lastname@example.org
Genre: young adult, romance, contemporary
More Info: Kindle edition, 416 pages, published by Harlequin Teen on May 30, 2017
Vaughn is family-oriented. She strives to help her older sister and younger twin brothers, since their parents died. She is responsible, while her parents were reckless. She likes security, such as her steady boyfriend and job. Then, the ultimate opportunity presents itself for Vaughn to make a lot of money that can be used for her family and college: pretend date a pop star, Oakley Ford.
After hours of legal mumbo-jumbo, she meets the superstar. And he’s the entitled celebrity she imagined him to be. He’s lost his image and his mojo, not having released an album for many years. Now, all he wants is to be taken seriously, to make different music. His publicity team thinks Vaughn is the answer. They go on fake dates, but actually get to know one another after some time. Vaughn discovers Oakley’s secrets and he finds out her ambitions. Eventually, the gimmick becomes something real. But even true relationships still have their issues.
When I saw that Erin Watt was publishing a standalone book, I knew I had to have it because I was so engrossed in their Royals series.
The characters in When It’s Real were so different from the characters in the Royals books. It was a great contrast.
After reading the Royals series, this book wasn’t what I was expecting. But it was a good change. This book was directed toward young adults rather than new adults, with less explicit content. Vaughn’s sister even had a swear jar, because she doesn’t like profanity, leading to more censored language.
The plot itself—a homely girl dating rock star, how the scheme was devised, etc—was somewhat far-fetched. However, the depiction of humanity, relations, emotions, etc. were quite real. The people, their actions, and their emotions were flawed, which made the characters so relatable.
I loved Oakley’s character arc and character development. I didn’t like him at first, neither through Vaughns nor Oakley’s point of view. He changed over time, and I enjoyed seeing him change. Which was what his team wanted in the first place . . . for him to settle down. His desperation to work with King, the top record producer, made me cringe, and also find him endearing. Oakley is a man who knows what he wants and tries to get it, even through a right or wrong manner.
The chemistry between Vaughn and Oakley was great. It wasn’t necessarily a hate-to-love relationship, but it was pretty close. Their sexy back-and-forth Tweets and banter was adorable. They didn’t take any crap from one another,
Oakley’s interactions with his fans are on-spot. I would imagine, as a hot celebrity, it must be tiring to talk to every person who wants your attention. As such, I found it very believable that Oakley didn’t like to be touched. So, my favorite scene is when the young girl asks for a picture with him. She won’t touch him, so he initiates a hug. It was so cute! I’m a sucker for gentlemen. And he sings with a passion that comes through when he is relaxed.
Vaughn’s and Oakley’s interactions with the other characters, such as Vaughn’s horrible ex-boyfriend, and Oakley’s parents, made them more 3-dimensional. Overall, I was sucked into this story and emotions. There wasn’t much of a plot, and what existed of plot was light and fluffy. This a great summer read, filled with a dreamy romance, a cliché plot, and realistic characters.
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