4 STARS ✬ ERIN WATT ✬ WHEN IT’S REAL

When It’s Real

by

Erin Watt

This is as real and as awful and as wonderful as it gets. I’d hold her forever if she’d let me.

Oakley Ford used to be a teenage superstar. At 19 his stardom has taken a nosedive and to jump-start his career his manager suggests dating a normal girl instead of a co-star. Oak agrees after some hesitation. When a girl has been found that fulfills the requirements a strategy of “attack” is being planned and carried out.

When Vaughn’s parents died in a car crash they left her and her siblings without a proper financial security. Ever since Vaughn and her sister have been raising their twin brothers. Money is tight so when her sister tells her that Vaughn could earn a lot of money by fake-dating someone famous she doesn’t need to think about it for long. While she isn’t cut out for being in the spotlight her family comes first…and her boyfriend? Well, hopefully he will understand that this serves to improve the little family’s financial situation significantly. Too bad Oakley Ford turns out to be a major jerk.

Heads up, Oak isn’t a likable character when you start reading this book, but there is something, an underlying vulnerability and a loneliness, despite all the people he surrounds himself with. It must be hard to follow orders because other people know what’s best for you. Then there is the aspect that everyone who profits from him uses Oak for their own gain without a second thought who they hurt.

Oak is something else. At his most vulnerable, he’s the strongest.

Modest he is not but the more you advance in the story the more thoughtful Oak becomes. He has endless patience with Vaughn and at some point I thought he was a little bit too relenting and acquiescent with her. Oak grew on me though and I ended up adoring him.

I don’t know when that happened, but somewhere along the line Vaughn went from the girl I was forced to have on my arm to the girl I want to have in my life.

Now Vaughn was a girl after my taste until she decided to make one bad choice and that choice caused this book to drop down a star a for me. For much of the book she holds her own and stands up to cocky Oakley Ford. She isn’t impressed that he is a superstar. I appreciated that Vaughn was ready to do things she didn’t want to do in order to secure her family’s future. Until around the 70% she was a perfectly likable heroine.

I kissed her because she was funny and sweet. She didn’t mock me when I confessed I was blocked. She tried to comfort me with silly stories about her family even when it was obvious those same memories caused her pain. She doesn’t expect anything from me beyond what we’d agreed upon. She’s different and I wanted a taste of that.

The problem was not what she did, it was the explanation why she did it that totally threw me off and I have to admit I was thinking about dropping my rating to 3 stars but the overall enjoyment of the story had me reconsider.

As is evident by the success of The Royals this author duo definitely knows how to write an engrossing story. The books they write are unputdownable and even though this one had it’s weaknesses I was totally immersed in the story. I’m pretty sure that most people will feel that way about When It’s Real.

When It’s Real is a standalone.

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