Isn't She Lovely by Lauren Layne
Series: Redemption #0.5
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Publication date: October 28, 2013
Format: eARC, 240 pages
How I got it: From the publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon
"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?
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
In Review: My Thoughts
“And here’s what you don’t learn in Film 101 … in real life? The meet-cute isn’t the least bit cute. It’s more like a meet-awkward. Sometimes even a meet-shoot-me-now.”
For those who aren’t familiar with it, meet-cute is a movie term for the moment when romantic couples meet for the first time. In the movies, it’s generally amusing, ironic or charming. For Stephanie Kendrick, goth girl and film student, it’s anything but. She plows, quite literally, into gorgeous, clean-cut, star-quarterback-looking Ethan Price on her way to class one day. They both immediately form their own opinions and stereotypes about the other and move on. To the same class. Where they wind up as partners for a group project. This is going to be interesting!
From the minute she and Ethan select Pygmalion as the movie they’re going to remake, it’s pretty clear the direction this story is going to go in. I was along for the ride and loving every minute. Ethan comes up with the idea to give Stephanie a makeover AND have her act like his girlfriend for some upcoming family events. He doesn’t have time for love and his parents are insisting he and ex-girlfriend need to get back together. If he can bring home the perfect Upper West Side girlfriend, maybe they’ll leave him alone. Stephanie’s no stranger to makeovers. It wasn’t too long ago that she was closer to Ethan’s type than the goth girl she is now. But things change.
“I’m beginning to realize that there are two kinds of kisses for us. The stage-kiss, and the important kiss. And the important kisses have just officially outnumbered the stage kisses.”
We all know opposites attract. It’s only a matter of time before Stephanie and Ethan start appreciating the small things about the other and realize there may be more than just a game going on. But it isn’t that easy. Stephanie has her walls up. She’s afraid Ethan’s feelings aren’t true or that they’re just because of her new look. He’s superficial and unsure about what he wants. That doesn’t even begin to touch the external forces working against them. The drama comes to a head during a family event in the Hamptons when Stephanie lets her true self out and Ethan can’t handle it.
“I love you, Stephanie. Just the way you are. You can wear pink, or black or fucking feathers and it won’t change how I feel about you.”
It was the characters, more than the story, that made this book for me. Sure, the story was fantastic. It wouldn’t have been done time and time again in book and movie form if it wasn’t. I loved the little twists and turns and details the author put in this version. I loved Stephanie. Strong heroines are my favorite. She was stubborn and guarded, but underneath it all, she was vulnerable. She was sassy and real. Ethan had me conflicted for a little while because I really wasn’t sure what his end game was. His superficiality bothered me, but he was a product of his upbringing and environment. When the real Ethan started to be revealed bit by bit, I found him completely crush-worthy. His grand gesture after the disastrous Hamptons trip was amazing. So many warm, fuzzy feelings for him.
Isn’t She Lovely is the first book by Lauren Layne that I’ve read. It will not be the last. I absolutely loved this book. It was a fun, sweet and easy read. I have a thing for retellings of classic tales and I loved this updated version of Pygmalion. It was every bit as delightful as the popular movie retellings My Fair Lady, Pretty Woman or She’s All That. Of course, it’s predictable in the way that all retellings are, but that’s part of what makes it great. You know where the story is headed, but you have no idea how it will get there. This one did it with a lot of heart and charming, adorable, flawed characters. If you’re looking to escape with a quick and entertaining New Adult Contemporary Romance with real romance, humor, a touch of angst, a strong girl and a totally swoony guy, this is the book for you.