The Real Thing by Cassie Mae
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Publication date: August 19, 2014
Format: eARC, 235 pages
How I got it: NetGalley
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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 friends to lovers trope is one of my favorites in the new adult genre… or any genre, for that matter. Cassie Mae does a fantastic job writing this trope and The Real Thing is a perfect example of it. I’ve enjoyed Cassie’s other books, particularly Switched, so when I saw this one, it was a no-brainer for me to read it. With easily relatable characters and a sweet romance, this book captured my attention.
It’s a pretty rare thing when my favorite character in a book is someone other than the main character. That’s exactly what happened here, though. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Mia. I related to her on some levels, but at the same time, I was very clearly rooting for Eric more than her. Eric is pretty much ME, but as a guy. He has anxiety and struggles with his weight. He doesn’t like being touched because he’s uncomfortable in his own skin. His recent weight loss didn’t fix all his problems. (You know, because it doesn’t in real life either.) He’s a strong, but flawed character and I absolutely loved him. His insecurity, mixed with his sweetness, won me from the start.
All that said, Mia was a good female character. She broke the norms of the genre. She knew what she wanted and she wasn’t afraid to go after it. She had her own flaws, too. The biggest of which was her reliance on her phone and social media. I’ll be the first to admit there are times in my life I’d much rather talk to my friends online than the people I’m with in real life, but Mia took it to an extreme. But, you know what, I know people who are just like that. Really. And I could more than understand why Eric reacted to her behavior the way he did.
I loved Eric and Mia together and I rooted for them. I thought their relationship developed perfectly as they got to know each other again. Sure there were some tough times, mostly brought on by Eric’s insecurity and Mia’s addiction to social media. But, you know, nothing felt fake or forced. It was easy to love these characters, flaws and all. They were relatable and real.
As much as I love the other types of new adult lit – the bad boy/good girl, famous guy/normal girl, rockstar, fighter, athlete – realistic fiction remains one of my favorites. Cassie Mae writes it wonderfully well. She’s definitely on my auto-buy author list. I look forward to seeing what she gives us next!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.