Series: The Fine Art of Pretending #2
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Format: eARC, 297 pages
How I got it: NetGalley
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
One class assignment. One second chance at love. The school player is all in. Now he needs to win back the sweet commitment girl who's forever owned his heart.
Justin Carter has a secret. He's not the total player Fairfield Academy believes him to be. Not really. In fact, he used to be a one-woman guy...and his feelings for her never went away. Too bad he broke her heart three years ago and made sure to ruin any chance she'd ever forgive him.
Peyton Williams is a liar. She pretends to be whole, counting down the days until graduation and helping her parents at the family ranch. But the truth is, she's done everything she can to get over Justin, and salvation is just around the corner. With graduation one short month away, she'll soon break free from the painful memories and start her life fresh. Of course, she has to get through working with him on one last assignment first.
For Justin, nothing ever felt as right as being with Peyton, and now that fate's given him a shot at redemption, he's determined to make the most of it. And for Peyton...well, Justin Carter has always been her kryptonite.
You know that feeling when you start a book and realize it’s absolutely the PERFECT book for you in the moment? The Natural History of Us was that book for me. I’d been looking forward to this one since it was announced because I enjoyed the first book in the series and I love how Rachel’s books make me feel. (So feel-filled and happy-making!) It took awhile for me to get to it because my stack of books is out of control, but I picked it up last week after finishing a run of more intense book and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I absolutely devoured the first half of it while on a bus – and I’m prone to motion sickness. I literally didn’t care because I couldn’t put this one down.
The characters made this entire book for me. Justin was amazing. Yeah, the boy had a reputation and it wasn’t entirely untrue… but he wasn’t that guy underneath it all. There he was vulnerable. His home life was garbage. My heart ached for him. His past with Peyton is messy and he’s definitely painted as the bad guy in the beginning. Of course, we don’t know the entire story, so I had a whole lot more sympathy for him as the truth unfolded. Peyton was fantastic, too. She was strong and sweet and she didn’t take crap from anyone. It was this that caused the biggest problem with her and Justin being teamed up for a school project, as she wasn’t exactly open to forgiving him for their past. But as they spent more time together and got to know the other person, those old feelings resurfaced. I had all the swoons and feels and I just wanted to smush these two together. It was a wonderful romance that totally made my heart happy.
This book is told in dual POV and alternates between the past, leading up to the big fall out Justin and Peyton had years ago, and the present, as they begin getting reacquainted. I loved being able to spend time in both characters’ minds in both the present and the past and I loved how the story was structured. It all unfolded in such a great way and I was totally invested. It was an easy read that packed an emotional punch and, while there was definitely some angst, it wasn’t overwhelming. It made me laugh and cry and, most importantly, it left me with an abundance of good feels and a huge, cheesy grin on my face. I don’t spend a lot of time around teenagers, so I have nothing to truly base my statement off of, but these characters felt real and genuine to me. I love Rachel’s writing. Her words spoke to me so much, I swear I highlighted half the book. I even had a tough time narrowing down my favorite quotes to share with you. Yeah, there are a bunch of them!
Every time I think I’m about ready to give up on YA contemporary, I stumble on a book that makes me realize what I would be missing if I stopped reading it. The Natural History of Us and books like it are why I continue to read the genre even though I’m a lady in my (now upper) 30s. I everything about this one. There’s nothing I would’ve changed. While neither the title nor the synopsis for the third book in this series have been released yet, I’m already itching to get my hands on it. I totally have my fingers crossed that it’s Cade’s book. But, you know, I’ll read it no matter whose book it is.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
You know what would rock? A delete button for life. A magical way to erase memories and unwanted feelings. The tingles, the lingering hope. The little things you never thought you’d miss, like simply talking to the boy you once loved, or not talking because you didn’t need to. You already know all there is to know. Breakups are crappy any way you slice it, but the worst part, even worse than seeing the boy who once owned your heart now happy with someone else, is going from speaking every day, hanging out, and sharing all aspects of your life, to nothing.
“I appreciate the way you listen. If someone has your attention, they have all of you.” I swallow hard as my eyes bore into the thin paper. “They’re the only thing on the planet that matters for those brief precious moments.”
“A smile doesn’t always mean you’re happy.” I shrugged and looked away. “Sometimes it just means you’re ready to face whatever comes.”
No girl had gotten to me like this. Burrowed under my skin, held my interest, or had me thinking about tomorrow. Wishing I could be that guy.
Three years is a long time to hold on to hurt. To convince yourself you hate someone, never want to see them again, wish they’d suffer a disgusting ailment. You’d think it would take a lot more than a few conversations over the course of a few weeks to make it all disappear. But that’s exactly what’s happened, because when I try and dredge up the old feelings of resentment and pain I’ve clung to over Justin, all that remains are smoldering embers of sadness.
Everyone knows I’m not good for much, but I was made to love this girl. I’m good for her and I’m good with her. It may’ve taken me three years to fully realize that, but I know it now. Soon, she will, too.
I could count on three fingers the times in my life I’d felt worthy of affection—my grandmother telling me on her death bed that she was proud of me, newborn Chase wrapping his tiny fist around my finger, and this moment, with Peyton giving me everything she had to give.
I’ve never had anyone in my life I could keep. My grandparents hung around as long as they could, but I only got a few years. My mom never wanted me, my dad couldn’t care less, and Annabeth… well, I won’t even go there. As for the others, Chase is only a kid, Rosalyn is paid to be there, and Carlos, as much as he has my back, has his own thing going. With girls, every relationship before and after Peyton has been transient. Blink and you missed it, no attachments. Casual. I did that on purpose, so no one ever got too close. No one could ever hurt me. But with this beautiful, brave, brilliant girl in front of me, I never even stood a chance.
Have you read any of Rachel’s books?
Who are some authors whose books always leave YOU with a huge smile on your face?