Prepare your heartstrings; THE FINE ART OF PRETENDING will make you laugh, cry, and swoon in the best possible ways! My favorite contemporary of the year! ~ Melissa West, author of PIECES OF OLIVIA
Compulsively readable...Rachel Harris is a master at creating sizzling but sweet romances. ~ Paula Stokes, author of THE ART OF LAINEY
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I want to thank Spencer Hill Contemporary for providing me with a copy of this book at BEA to read and review. Receiving this book for free has in no way influenced my opinion or review. It's rare that a cute contemporary that I can relate to comes along. Even more rare that I can remember what it's like to be in high school and feeling all those feelings over and over again. Ms. Harris has managed to pull me right back to my high school days. Pull me right back to all those feelings of awkwardness, those feelings of crushing on someone but trying so hard to deny it. And I have to say I loved every single minute of reliving it. Alyssa, she's a keeper. At least that's what the guys at Fairfield say. She's not one of the girls the guys go for just for a fling. She's the one they go for when they are playing for keeps. But Alyssa doesn't want to be that girl. So she reinvents herself into something else. Because she thinks this will make her happier. So does it? Well, I guess when you read the book you'll see. I will tell you this, Alyssa is strong and funny and sexy and smart. She knows what she wants and goes after it. And Brandon, Aly's best friend. He's this sweet, sexy guys that all the girls want. And most of them get, at least for a night. But Brandon is hiding a secret, which I'm not going to tell you but you'll probably figure out pretty early on in the book! Above all he's a great friend, willing to help Aly try and achieve her goal by putting himself out on the line and pretending to be her boyfriend. I love that he's willing to give up his single status to help her out. But really I love that he wants to protect her. That he's not willing to allow her to change just because she thinks she needs to. Rache's writing is fun and easy to read. I loved her banter between her characters. It really set the tone for each of them and their relationships with Aly and Brandon. Her character development is really on par. Each character has his or her own distinct personality. She makes it easy to like them all, even the ones your not sure you should. And I love that it is written from both Aly and Brandon's points of view. Each of them having a distinct enough voice that I was never confused as to who was talking. This is a delightful tale of finding who you are and what you want. Of realizing that changing yourself doesn't mean it will be for the better. Of realizing that perhaps who you were before is just perfect. Is it a bit predictable, yes. But this was the draw of the story for me. I knew in the end I'd be happy, and I was anxious to turn each page to see how it would come about. The book will have you laughing, crying, anticipating, and biting your nails all at once. Lovers of sweet romantic stories with just the right amount of feels will eat Harris' book right up. I can't wait to see what's in store for book #2! ***I work as a publicist for Spencer Hill Press and this has in no way influenced my opinion***
I grew up on sappy romantic movies and novels. For me, these stories about hope, love, and happy endings are my bread and butter. You could say I am a fool for love. The Fine Art of Pretending does not disappoint for it is a story I loved and it made my sappy romantic heart swoon with joy. It was story a story that sucked me and didn’t let go. I thought I would I just start by reading one chapter and before I knew it, in a matter of hours, I had the entire book read. The Fine Art of Pretending is about a girl Aly who is tired of being the “girl next door” or the “best friend” and launches a campaign to reinvent herself in “Operation Sex Appeal.” With the help her friends she starts wearing bikinis, short skirts, and clothes that show the figure. Her friend Brandon tells her that boys have divided the girls at school into two groups. The “Casuals”, girls good for flings and “Commitments”, girls that you take home to mom because they deserve a relationship. Of course, Aly is Commitment girl but is best friends with King of the Casuals. They decide to pretend hook up so the boys at school will see Aly in a different light. Aly and Brandon discover that maybe the hook up isn’t so fake after all. I loved this book because it was sweet and the story was more about finding yourself. It was a story about inner confidence. My favorite part is when Aly does finally get a date Justin another guy who only dates Casuals, and she asks him why her. He answers that it wasn’t that clothes that only attracted him it mostly her sexy confidence. Aly realizes that confidence came from when she was falling in love with her best friend Brandon. I totally think there are people out there that make us shine and those people are the people that you build those forever bonds with. I like that Aly also finds the courage from new found sexy confidence to do things on her own without boys. While, The Fine Art of Pretending is a sweet YA romance, it is a story about two people finding courage and overcoming their fears. The story was sweet, funny and I look forward to reading more. I give The Fine Art of Pending five stars because it gave that blissful swoony rush, which I look for in all romances.
I was entranced with this novel from the moment I read the blurb. I've always loved stories where friends fall in love. I knew it was going to be a book I enjoyed, but I didn't know how much. I wasn't expecting the course of love to be smooth, but this definitely had some bumps! This is my first book by Rachel Harris and I'm definitely impressed! I really liked Aly. She realized she wasn't happy with something and went about changing it. Of course she didn't realize it would have consequences, but when we think of things we always think of the rewards, not what could go wrong. I like how Aly was willing to roll with the changes in her plan. I really liked Brandon too. He was a great friend and support to Aly. She also supported him in return too. I love that he wanted the best for her and was willing to put his friendship on the line for her. The only part I didn't like was how hurt they both were over what was happening to their changing feelings. If only they'd talked to each other, they could've avoided all the unnecessary angst! I even felt bad for Justin and he's a total player! I read this book in a matter of hours, from start to end, and didn't put it down once. I laughed, teared up, gripped my hair in frustration, and cheered on Aly and Brandon. I love that both Aly and Brandon learned love was a risk worth taking for each other. I'm so excited this is going to be a series! I can't wait to see who Rachel Harris writes about next.
I knew from the moment I opened the first page and read it that Aly and I were going to be great friends. I love when a first chapter, a first page, can capture me right away and I feel that instant connection with a character. It is so rare when it happens, which makes it all the better and memorable when it does. I wasn't wrong about that first page either. As Aly's tale unfolded I grew to love her and Brandon more and more. There is just something that is so hard for me to resist when it comes to a sweet slow burning friends to lovers story. In fact, I CAN'T resist them and seldom even try. Throw in Harris' ability to draw a person in with her incredible writing abilities and you have a story that I completely was wrapped up in and didn't want to end. This was such a heartwarming adorable read. This book will be one of my favorites of the year simply because it made me smile and even get teary eyed while reading it and lately, it has taken a lot for me to do that, especially in this genre. For me to be able to walk away with this one a happier, more relaxed person, with a warm fuzzy feeling inside should be enough for anyone to pick this up too. Simply put, this was stinkin' adorable and I loved every minute of it and can't wait for the next book to be out.
I was so excited for The Fine Art of Pretending that even though I had an advance copy for a while I waited to read it. Sound crazy? Of course but I knew that I wouldn’t want it to end and that’s the truth. I love Rachel Harris and her books and I have to say that this is my favorite of our YA. I’m actually picky when it comes to contemporary reads because they have never been a top genre for me so when I find a book like this that I adore. I really adore it. Wow so Aly is without a doubt is my high school soul sister. I kept thinking, this was my life in high school!! I even did a makeover thing because much like her, even though I was a dancer and fit, I would hide behind baggy clothes. My makeover didn’t last, the extra attention creeped me out and I went back to my laid back style. I loved that Aly learns through her own transformation what it means to really be yourself and that the people who really matter to you are going to love you no matter what. I loved Brandon. I liked how casual he was and I don’t mean in the “casuals” kind of way. He’s just that awesome guy that’s protective of Aly but also completely clueless in some departments. I see why he is scared of a long term relationship and I like how he also grows in the book. The characters grow together! I love that. I loved the story, it’s one of my favorite plots. Fake relationships lead to real feelings. I also really like how Justin isn’t just some random fantasy guy. He’s for starters, friends with Brandon and there is more to him than just good looks and bad attitude. I like that we do get to know a little bit more about him besides the fact that he is the target. Also mean girl Lauren is kind of fun character as well. I love the writing. I just wanted to speed through some things because I was getting so frustrated but at the same time I didn’t because I was enjoying the story. I liked the strong representations of family and friendships. It was great to see that both characters had people in their corners. Plus the parents were also there to kind of say, hey you are just a kid it’s okay to not know what the heck you are doing. I loved that Kara and Gabi are so different but are such good friends to Aly. That Drew and Carlos have Brandon’s back but they also have Justin’s. Just a great mix of people. So I’m a definite fan of this book and now that it’s over, it makes me a little sad. Of course I have the next one to gear up and get excited for now. Bring on Book 2, The Fine Art of Awesome (okay so it’s not going to be called that).
I have been waiting forever for this book. “The Fine Art of Pretending” by Rachel Harris is fantastic. I love it. This book was so worth the wait. Ally is trying to give herself a makeover and become a casual girl rather than a commitment one. She wants to have some fun her senior year of high school and finally go on a casual date. Ally had a boyfriend but he dumped her for another girl. Now it is operation sex appeal and Ally’s goal is to land Justin for the homecoming dance. I can’t emphasize enough how much I love Rachel Harris and her books. “The Fine Art of Pretending” is another fun book to read. I really enjoyed Ally and Brandon’s story. Brandon decides to help Ally with her operation sex appeal by pretending that they are hooking up casually. Brandon and Ally go on a couple of dates and have a few kisses but then they have their official non-official breakup and this ends up destroying both of them. Ally doesn’t realize she loves Brandon and Brandon doesn’t realize that he loves Ally. What is going to happen to these friends? Will they truly fall for each other or will they still end up being best friends? Will they lose each other forever? This is definitely a high school generated novel. These kids are in their senior year of high school, so there is definitely some drama and some teenage feelings going on. I think this book is very relatable to teenagers. I really liked the storyline. I thought it was really light hearted and fun. This is definitely a quick read. I really liked the characters. Ally is someone I can completely relate too and it isn’t just because we share a similar name. Aly is a nervous nelly and she worries about everything like me. Then she decides that she wants to make herself more attractive and try to become more confident. Honestly I feel like I have the same issues. I feel like I could be a whole lot more attractive than I am but I lack the confidence for it. Even as an adult I have that same issue. Confidence radiates plenty of sex appeal but it is owning that confidence that I have issues with sometimes too. Brandon seems to be a bit of a playboy but as you get to know him, you find out that Brandon has a whole another side to him. Brandon doesn’t want to have a relationship because he thinks that everything ends when it comes to relationships. When he realizes that he likes Ally for more than a friend, he wants to ignore his feelings because he doesn’t want to screw up their friendship but because of the choices he makes, it ends up screwing up their friendship anyway. I think Brandon has sides to him that his friends don’t see so I hope that maybe he will start being himself more as time goes on. It will be great if he opens up more. The other characters were fantastic. I have to say that Brandon and Aly have some really good friends. They wanted to see the two of them together for the most part but they are all pretty caring towards the two of them. It seemed to be a great group of friends. I wish my friends at that age were like that. “The Fine Art of Pretending” was fantastic. I was so excited to get my eARC. I will definitely be buying a few copies of “The Fine Art of Pretending” because I have to give copies to friends not to mention have my own. That right there should be able to tell you what I truly think about this book. Definitely get your own copy!
I received a copy of this book from InkSlinger PR for a blog tour in exchange for an honest review. In no way did this sway my review or my rating! I always go in to a book by Rachel Harris thinking that there is absolutely no way she can top the last one I read. I mean I loved that book! There's just no way! Yet every time I finish the newest one I'm left sitting here wondering to myself how the heck did she just do that again?! Now I know I say this every time I finish one of her books, and trust me it's true every single time I say it, but...The Fine Art of Pretending is her best work yet. This book is her baby, it's the one that means the most to her, and I could tell. You can see her heart on every single one of these pages. It's hard to pick that one thing that I loved most about this book because there are so many great elements to it, but honestly I'd have to say it's the message that it puts out there. Actually I feel like, really, there's two important ones, but first Aly's. Aly feels like she needs to change to make big things happen for her. To get a guy to look at her as more than just a friendship potentially. Enter Operation Sex Appeal. She trades in her baggy shirts and pants for short skirts and tight tops. She exchanges her ratty old tennis shoes for heels. Applies more make up, lets down her hair instead of throwing it up in a messy bun. Completely changed the outside. She was never really herself though or fully comfortable in her new skin so to speak. Even though all the attention was new and exciting at first it was never fully real. Because she wasn't being real. Even Brandon, sure he "noticed" her when she changed, but he still missed the old Aly. She grew so much in this book though from beginning of the book Aly, who is sweet and funny and you cannot help but love her, to the end of the book Aly. All change that was for the good. And I'm not just talking about her appearance. It's the whole disguise thing. You know how like when you're in disguise you feel more comfortable to let loose and put yourself out there. In her new look she was slower to second guess being more bold and putting herself out there. She was able to let the real Aly that's deep inside of her out. Stuff that had always been there but buried in self doubt. But with a bit of self confidence the real Aly really shines. And it wasn't until she said okay that's enough of this game I'm playing, because really it was just like a game, and she took the mask off and all the pretty, tight, short clothes and went back to relaxed and comfy, when she was truly herself with a dash more confidence that things in her life really started to happen. Be you. It's the confidence that's sexy. With Brandon, and just know that I am crushing hard on this guy! Just had to get that out there before I go on! Anyway, with Brandon we have this already really amazing guy. A guy who has been her best friend for a very long time and has always seen her and trusts her enough to see sides of him that nobody else does. He's basically perfect. But in everything he's seen up to now love may seem great but eventually people leave you. Whether it's walking away or in death and so he keeps people in rolls that will, in his mind, allow him to avoid pain if they ever leave. In his journey with this pretending they do he has to struggle to realize that people may leave but taking the risk and loving them and having them love you back, no matter how brief, is worth the pain and risk. Something else I think is important to take away from this book. Not only does Rachel Harris write you these amazing characters and this heartwarming, sweet and fun story but she's done something that isn't exactly easy and natural in a lot of young adult novels. She has flawlessly written these teenage characters, capturing their voice and making them so real and full of life. I've not seen it done better than with this book. Add to that these two really important messages to young people, and even old ones like me haha, that it's okay to be yourself and being true to you and confident brings out the sexy. You don't need to change for anyone. And take a chance on love. Sometimes it brings you pain, but it won't always. And it's always worth it. I can't wait to see what you bring us next Rachel. One thing I know for sure is it's going to be amazing!
I reviewed this title with my blogmate, Ana. The review below is exactly as it appears on The Book Hookup. **SPECIAL NOTE:** An eARC of this title was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition. Ana: 5 stars! What a sweet, wonderful story! Sometimes it’s just nice to read a book that touches your heart and reminds you of those days when you wanted so badly to have everything, be everything, try everything. I’m fairly sure that almost everyone can relate to Aly’s need to be someone different, to explore a part of herself that others have not seen, maybe not even herself. With the help of her friends, who were great, by the way, she turns herself into the “it” girl. She works to transform herself from girlfriend material to the kind of girl the boys want to have fun with. And it works. She gets the attention she’s craving and sets her sights on a certain someone. Problem is, that’s not the one she’s meant to be with. Her best friend, Brandon, has always held a piece of her heart and this may just be the chance they both need to figure it all out. And, on that note, can I just say that I loved Brandon?! He’s sweet, sexy and swoonworthy. I love his protectiveness towards Aly and the emotions he battles as he determines what’s right for him. Their chemistry, both as great friends, and then as more, was fantastic. The buildup towards the ending and the angst felt by each character throughout the story was very well done. As a matter of fact, this book took me through many emotions and certainly through some nostalgic memories of days gone by. Ahhhh…first love…is there anything better?!? So…do I recommend this book? Definitely! It’s fun, has a great dual POV, great characters, wonderful writing and, of course, some delicious romance. Can’t ask for more than that! Oh, and Ms. Harris, a book about Justin would be very very much appreciated!!! :) Christina: 4.5 stars! Yep, if you’re looking for a brief review, then I basically agree with everything Ana stated in her review above. However, if you’re looking for a more detailed account of my thoughts, I can happily provide those, too! Though the friends-to-more trope and a few of the stereotypical high school characters found in this story have been used and abused on more than one account by other authors, Rachel Harris infused this story with the perfect amount of relate-ability, humor, and swoony sweetness that had me sliding through the Kindle pages with a mushy heart. I think the author hit all the high marks with this novel, giving it the perfect amount of angst and love to make this plot absolutely believable. Told in alternating dual POVs, we really get a sense of both main characters, Aly and Brandon, are and I truly found myself connecting to them and relating to both of their issues and beliefs on life and relationships, whether those be platonic, causally hooking up, or seriously dating. It was definitely entertaining to watch both of the characters morph into the people they became in the end, and both were surrounded and helped through the angstier times by a wonderful group of secondary characters that I adored as well. (Gabi and Carlos… squee!) There were even a few characters that surprised me. Rec it? Absolutely! If you love a good friends-to-more story, The Fine Art of Pretending has that in aces. If you’re in the mood for angst or fluff or something real or dramatic, this novel is definitely in your area of interest. If you love good writing, effortless dialogue with realistically portrayed teen characters that inspire thoughts about coming-of-age and spread of message about true self-reflection, then look no further than Harris’s lasted book. ♥ A very special thanks to Spencer Hill Press and NetGalley for providing us with an advanced copy of this title in exchange for our honest reviews.
What a sweet, wonderful story! Sometimes it’s just nice to read a book that touches your heart and reminds you of those days when you wanted so badly to have everything, be everything, try everything. I’m fairly sure that almost everyone can relate to Aly’s need to be someone different, to explore a part of herself that others have not seen, maybe not even herself. With the help of her friends, who were great, by the way, she turns herself into the “it” girl. She works to transform herself from girlfriend material to the kind of girl the boys want to have fun with. And it works. She gets the attention she’s craving and sets her sights on a certain someone. Problem is, that’s not the one she’s meant to be with. Her best friend, Brandon, has always held a piece of her heart and this may just be the chance they both need to figure it all out. And, on that note, can I just say that I loved Brandon?! He’s sweet, sexy and swoonworthy. I love his protectiveness towards Aly and the emotions he battles as he determines what’s right for him. Their chemistry, both as great friends, and then as more, was fantastic. The buildup towards the ending and the angst felt by each character throughout the story was very well done. As a matter of fact, this book took me through many emotions and certainly through some nostalgic memories of days gone by. Ahhhh…first love…is there anything better?!? So…do I recommend this book? Definitely! It’s fun, has a great dual POV, great characters, wonderful writing and, of course, some delicious romance. Can’t ask for more than that! Oh, and Ms. Harris, a book about Justin would be very very much appreciated!!!
The Fine Art of Pretending was a sweet, light-hearted and extremely entertaining read.. It kept me engaged from the very first page and kept me smiling throughout. The characters were well developed and I liked that we got the POV's from both Aly and Brandon, I always enjoy contemporary YA's from both perspectives. The pacing was consistent, the writing wonderful and the storyline addictive. Thank you to Spencer Hill Contemporary for the opportunity to read and review The Fine Art of Pretending.