A Crack-Worthy Fake Dating YA Romance: When It’s Real by Erin Watt

A Crack-Worthy Fake Dating YA Romance: When It’s Real by Erin WattWhen It's Real
by Erin Watt
Release Date: May 30th 2017
Published by Harlequin Teen
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Format: eARC
Pages: 416
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four-stars
Source: ARC received for review purposes

From #1 New York Times bestselling author duo Erin Watt comes the addictive contemporary tale of a teen rock star in need of an image makeover and the teen girl hired to be his fake girlfriend.

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley's team decides it's time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he's settled down.

Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of "normal." Under ordinary circumstances she'd never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn't have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley's team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley's a shallow, self-centered jerk? It's not like they're going to fall for each other in real life…right?

ARC received for review purposes in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


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I’m not a fan of famous people in books. I don’t know. It’s just so hard for me to connect with them for some reason, and the drama always seems to stem from their celebrity status. Nevertheless, having enjoyed Erin Watt’s The Royals series, I was eager to get to When It’s Real. I loved this book and wound up absolutely devouring the story. It’s certainly different in tone from The Royals, and instead of a book with dark, mature theme, Erin Watt gifts readers with a sweet romance that will have your hearts fluttering in joy.

When It’s Real is told from the voices of Vaughn and Oakley and I found both of them to be very likable. Vaughn, especially, was a sweetheart. There was an endearing quality to her character that made reading through her POV pleasant. Her big heart, her loyalty to her family and her genuineness truly made the story exceptional for me. She wasn’t just sweet though, there were many added layers to her personality. I especially enjoyed when her more fiery side emerged, especially around Oakley. The girl knew how to stand her ground, and defend herself, and I loved that about her. Oakley, on the other hand, was a little harder for me at first. I was unsure of what his motivations were, but as the story progressed, and we got to see the boy within the superstar exterior, I found myself loving his character. He might have been rich and famous and had all the girls throwing themselves at him, but he didn’t have the one thing every kid deserves to have, affectionate parents. He struggles with his relationship with his parents in the book, and it’s heartbreaking to read about his desires. Thankfully, he finds a surrogate family in Vaughn’s family.

The relationship between Oakley and Vaughn was a fake-dating that turns into more romance, a trope that I think needs to be more popular in YA. It was very thoughtfully done, and even though Vaughn has a boyfriend, she and Oakley don’t cheat or fall for each other while she’s still in the relationship. Their relationship was initially full of snippy comments, and antagonism, but they slowly find companionship with one another, and it was the best. The kisses were swoony, and the softer more emotional moments between Oakley and Vaughn were adorable. I totally shipped it! I thought the addition of Vaughn’s siblings was also really well done here. It’s only her sister, Paisley and her twin brothers – they lost their parents in an accident. They love, camaraderie, and pure joy that existed between these siblings made me so happy. We also get a pretty awesome secondary character in Oakley’s bodyguard, Ty, who surprisingly develops his own sweet romance in the book with Paisley. If Erin Watt wants to write their book, I wouldn’t complain one bit!

Once again, Erin Watt has written a book that’s addicting, swoony and entertaining from start to finish. I have no doubt YA contemporary fans will fall for these characters. I’m excited to see what else they have up their sleeves!

What are some of your favorite books with the fake-dating trope?
Let me know in the comments below!

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Nick
  • I totally love that cover. Had no idea what it was about but the cover got my attention. I agree about the celebrity in book thing. Not my favorite but I love the fake relationship trope so much that I might have to add. Great review!

    • I didn’t know what it was about either, but I liked that cover a lot. I hope you like it, Grace.

  • This one is completely new to me, but it sounds so good. I love a sweet romance. The characters sound fantastic! I think I’m getting on the fake dating bandwagon lately. I’m adding this on GR right now! Thanks for bringing it to my attention! Great review!

    • Yay! Glad you found a new book thanks to my review, Lori. I hope you enjoy it if you give it a try.

  • kindlemom1

    I always love these type of reads in summer and spring, there is just something about them. This sounds fabulous Nick and I’m glad it isn’t necessarily the same old same old even if it isn’t exactly a new concept either, it still sounds fun and worth it to read.

    • Yes, it’s the perfect book for the summer, Ali! Sometimes predictable is exactly what you need! 🙂

  • Oh this sounds like a great read! I am a sucker for the fake relationship trope! I’m glad to hear there’s no cheating/emotional cheating. And I like the family aspect (or at least Vaughn’s! Lovely review, Nick!

    • I hope you enjoy it if you try it, Cyn!

  • A Novel Glimpse

    I LOVED this book! Everything Erin Watt writes is addicting. I am hoping she writes a sequel for this book. I’m happy you ended up enjoying it even though you don’t like famous people in books! Nice review! 🙂

  • I haven’t read her Royals series but won an ARC of this one a few months ago and have been saving it for a rainy weekend. It reminds me a little of Morgan Matson actually. Cutesy with lots of heart and leaves you all warm and smooshy. I’m pushing it up the pile to read next. I’m still having perfect romance withdrawal after those Dimple and Rishi darlings. Brilliant review Nick sweetheart <3

    • It’s not as deep as Matson, but super cutesy for sure. And oh boy! It’s going to be hard to find a book you love after Dimple! 🙂

  • Aww, this seems so cute! I actually do like when celebrities are in books. Usually. And I love fake romances! I have to look into this one.

    • It was super sweet, Quinn. 🙂

  • Hmm… this sounds really cute, but I am not sure about the whole royalty/ celebrity thing. I am hesitant like you were.

    • I say give it a try, if you’re interested. It’s different from the typical celeb book!

  • I love the fake romance trope and this sounds cute. I am not a big celeb fan, so I get what you are saying. So glad this ended up being so enjoyable.

    • I love it so much too, Kim! And right? Celeb books can be frustrating, but this was good.

  • Angel @Angel Reads

    I just got a earc of this and cannot wait to start reading!! I am so excited!

    • Hope you love it, Angel!

  • Gah!! I can’t handle any more Erin Watt addictive books!

    • You sure can! 😉

  • You know fake dating is my jam so I am all over this book. I mean, I’m like you, celebrities in books are always a bit hit or miss but I have to say the past few I’ve read have been alright. I’ve actually liked them so maybe authors are getting better at making me like celebrities in books? I will be buying this as soon as I can.

  • Jazmen

    ‘Celebrity’ reads are not my thing either. But I’m all for the fake dating I like that aspect. Checking this one out!