Tuesday, May 30, 2017

When It's Real by Erin Watt

Wealth, fame and a real-life romance she never expected—seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett lands it all when she agrees to become a pop star's fake girlfriend in this smart, utterly addictive novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author duo Erin Watt.

Under ordinary circumstances, Oakley Ford and Vaughn Bennett would never even cross paths.

There's nothing ordinary about Oakley. This bad-boy pop star's got Grammy Awards, millions of fangirls and a reputation as a restless, too-charming troublemaker. But with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley needs to show the world he's settling down—and who better to help him than Vaughn, a part-time waitress trying to help her family get by? The very definition of ordinary.

Posing as his girlfriend, Vaughn will overhaul Oakley's image from troublemaker to serious artist. In return for enough money to put her brothers through college, she can endure outlandish Hollywood parties and carefully orchestrated Twitter exchanges. She'll fool the paparazzi and the groupies. She might even start fooling herself a little.

Because when ordinary rules no longer apply, there's no telling what your heart will do…

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

5 rockin' stars

Erin Watt is a new-to-me author. I own her Royals series, but I've yet to read it – I will soon rectify that.

When It's Real is too young to be new adult but a bit too old to be young adult, so I'm just going to go ahead and say it's a mature YA. One narrator is an innocent 17, the other a jaded 19 yet innocent in matters of the heart. There are sexual situations, but not above the norm for teenagers (descriptions are light, and fade-to-black, so if you know what's going on, you do – if you don't, you won't). If I had a child, I'd let them read it 14+. If I were a teen, I would've gone nuts over this book (as an adult, I did too). Plus, I felt there were several good messages that would impact a teenager for the positive.

Vaughn is our heroine, a 17-year-old orphan being raised by her older sister, as they jointly raise their 12-year-old twin brothers. Their struggles make Vaughn completely relatable. She's the girl-next-door, innocent, caring, giving, highly intelligent, yet she is also flawed.

Oak is our hero, a 19-year-old rock star. He has the weight of the world on his shoulders, unable to know who to trust in a world of fake, and he's blocked when it comes to his music. He's in need of a muse and a mature makeover, so he no longer comes off as Justin-Bieber-esque. Oak is a bit of a d-bag, but he's a relatable, flawed d-bag. He's 'our' d-bag with a heart of gold and in need of a real hug from someone who loves him, not wants something from him.

Without writing out a plot summary/book report... Vaughn and Oak had great chemistry, tension, a realistic friendship that grew over the course of the book. Oodles of teenage angst due to the storyline. When It's Real had the recipe for an intoxicating young adult novel.

I give mad props to Erin Watt for focusing on the negatives of the recording industry, instead of going the vapid way out, making it all about sunshine and rainbows, and the thrill of having money and anything your heart desires. While Oak loved the spotlight, the thrill of thousands of fans screaming his name, he also craved a family, normalcy, anonymity – all things he recognizes in Vaughn.

At the core of the story, Oak has biological relatives but no real connection, yet Vaughn's family is tighter due to tragedy. So their connection is forged by being able to share and show each other what is most important in life, balancing out the good and bad.

I highly recommend to young adult fans (may be a bit too mild for new adult fans who are looking for the usual gut-twisting angst and explicit sex present in most new adult books) and for those young at heart looking for an injection of the warmth from first love.

I quickly became a fan of this author duo when The Royals series came out and I couldn't wait to see what they did next! When It's Real has exactly the kind of addictive quality we've come to love from Erin Watt. So, it's no surprise that I was immediately sucked into Vaughn and Oakley's story.

Oakley Ford, a teen pop star, is in need of an image makeover and his team decides to accomplish this with a fake girlfriend. Oakley's fake girlfriend is supposed to help show the media that his party days are a thing of the past and his new wholesome girl is helping to settle him down.

Vaughn's family is strapped for cash and playing Oakley's fake girlfriend is worth way more than her waitress job and the kind of money she couldn't possibly pass up. The amount of money his team will be paying her will definitely be worth putting up with all the crazy publicity, parties, and a self-centered pop star.

When It's Real will easily win over fans both young and old. The characters were well developed and I easily fell in love with them all. Plus, the chemistry between Vaughn and Oakley was on point! I can't wait to see what Erin Watt has in store for us next!

I absolutely loved this book. It had everything I like in a rock star romance but with a sweet innocence of the young adult genre. Although not quite young adult, but not quite new adult, it has a nice mix of steamy moments without too much detail, just enough to make you get that nice little thrill. Oakley Ford's character as the teen pop sensation (think Justin Bieber) was perfectly portrayed and very well written. Bratty and prone to getting his way, but trying to become a better songwriter and change up his music, Oakley is hoping to snag the very desirable King to produce his next record. King won’t have a thing to do with Oakley until Oak shows some maturity. Oakley is told he's going to be dating a "normal" mostly to snag King. His publicist and manager have picked the girl for him, Vaughn Bennett. She's just what they need to clean up Oakley's image – a young, fresh nobody, a normal teenage girl with a wholesome background.

Vaughn has been floating since her parents died. Not really sure where her future is or should be going. She's approached to spend a year being Oakley Ford's girlfriend for a very large sum of money. Money that her family could desperately use since their parents died leaving her twin younger brothers to be raised by her and her sister. Vaughn has a boyfriend but decides this is important for her family and hopes W (yep, he goes by W) will understand it's all fake. The love triangle is well written with enough strife to be interesting but not overdone. I totally "shipped" Oakley and Vaughn and wanted them to have their happily ever after! The Twitter feed portions were nicely added, showing everything a normal girl would face dating a huge celeb with the internet involved. Oakley's famous parents aspect was on point and well played. I only wish the end wasn't as rushed, seemed a bit all squished at the end, but maybe I just wanted more. I do have a bit of a book hangover!! One of my best reads so far for 2017.

Erin Watt is the brainchild of two bestselling authors linked together through their love of great books and an addiction to writing. They share one creative imagination. Their greatest love (after their families and pets, of course)? Coming up with fun–and sometimes crazy–ideas. Their greatest fear? Breaking up.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of When It's Real by Erin Watt to read and review.

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