Incriminating Dating

Incriminating Dating

by Rebekah L. Purdy

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Incriminating Dating by Rebekah L. Purdy

Opinionated, unconventional Ayla Hawkins isn’t the type to use blackmail, but sometimes a girl has to stand up for what’s right. So when she catches Mr. Perfect Luke Pressler doing something decidedly un-perfect, Ayla’s got the dirt she needs to get Luke on her side—in the form of her new fake boyfriend.

One mistake. All Luke wanted was a night to goof off, to blow off steam. The next thing he knew, he was pretending to date Ayla Hawkins. But his little blackmailer turns out to be kind. Honorable. And just the breath of fresh air he didn’t even realize he was suffocating for. But Luke and Ayla come from different worlds, and once the terms of their agreement end, their fauxmance will, too.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book features adult language, sexual situations, and plenty of girl power. Reading may result in swooning, laughing, and looking for a Luke of your own.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781633759268
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 04/10/2017
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 150
Sales rank: 586,546
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Rebekah was born and raised in Michigan where she spent many late nights armed with a good book and a flashlight. She’s lived in Michigan most of her life other than the few years she spent in the U.S. Army. Rebekah currently works full time for the court system. In her free time she writes YA stories, anything from YA Fantasy to YA Contemporary Romance. Rebekah also has a big family (6 kids)—she likes to consider her family as the modern day Brady Bunch complete with crazy road trips and game nights.

Read an Excerpt

Incriminating Dating

By Rebekah L. Purdy, Stacy Abrams, Alexa May

Entangled Publishing, LLC

Copyright © 2017 Rebekah L. Purdy
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-63375-926-8



"So don't hate me for this."

My best friend, Chloe, plopped down beside me on the stage. Her blond hair was piled on top of her head and held in place by black chopsticks. "I grabbed you a form to run for class president."

"You're joking, right?" I stared at the sheet of paper she held out to me. "I have enough going on with drama club and the newspaper. Besides, I heard Jenna Lee is already running, and there's no way in hell I'd ever beat her."

"Nope. I'm not joking."

"People have no idea I exist. I mean, the sun basically shines out of Jenna's ass. I doubt she's ever even had a pimple." Yeah, I definitely didn't need to face down the embarrassment of running against her. The girl was like a supermodel, and it didn't hurt that she dated one of the stars on the basketball team. Not that there was anything wrong with being pretty, it's just Jenna knew she was and used it to her advantage.

Plus, her dad was the superintendent, so all the teachers pretty much let her do whatever she wanted.

The only thing I had going for me were my grades, which to most people probably wasn't exactly hot. I reached down to fix the laces on my Chucks, blowing wisps of brown hair from my face.

Just then Mrs. Parkins came in, holding a clipboard in one hand and a coffee cup in the other. Her red lipstick was smudged, her long flowy skirt tangled around her legs as she hurried toward us, nearly tripping. "Sorry I'm late, everyone," she said. "Ayla, did you already hand out the list of musicals we have to choose from for the fall production? We'll need to vote on one before the end of today."

"Yeah." And I couldn't help but notice they were ones that'd been recycled from the last couple of years. I didn't want to have to put on High School Musical. Again. I mean, how could you draw in crowds with lame crap like that? We should be performing stuff like Les Misérables or Phantom of the Opera, or, hell, even Grease.

Mrs. Parkins pulled a chair out from behind the curtain and sat down. "Okay, before we discuss the musical, I wanted to talk to you about the finance meeting I had with the board today to see what kind of budget drama club would have for this school year." Her lips pursed as she tapped her pen on her leg. "To make a long story short, they've decided to cut our finances in half."

"What? They can't do that!" I climbed to my feet. My fingers slid my black glasses from my face to the top of my head. "I don't understand. Why?"

"Apparently the basketball team needs new uniforms this year. The board thinks they'll make it to state and doesn't want them having to wear old gear."

"That's bullshit," I said. "They just got new ones two years ago. When was the last time we got anything new, used, or otherwise?"

"Language, Ayla." Mrs. Parkins shot me her best teacher-in-authority look.

"Sorry." My face warmed, and I shifted my gaze to the floor. I normally didn't have outbursts like this. It was just you could only take so much for so long before finally wanting to speak up. I needed to remember that I was Ayla Hawkins, nice girl, not Ayla Hawkins, raging bitch. "Isn't there something we can do?"

She sighed. "I've tried everything I can to keep them from cutting our funding. But I'm only one voice."

"Maybe we can sell candy bars or wash cars or something?" I said.

"We've done that in the past, and you know they don't bring in a lot of extra money. We've already diminished what little was in that fund last spring."

"Doesn't the student council have a say in some of the fund-raising stuff? If we could get someone into the board meeting to speak up for us, it might help," Chloe said. "Someone like Ayla. She could run for class president."

God, I hated it when Chloe got an idea stuck in her head, because she didn't let it go. She probably already had all my campaign posters drawn up.

"Well, it certainly couldn't hurt," Mrs. Parkins said.

"Look, I'm just not sure this is my thing." Actually, I was positive it wasn't my thing. Hell, I'd been fighting for stuff for the last three years at Larkin Ridge High and nothing ever made a difference. The school, the teachers, the board — they always sided with the popular kids or decided to cut arts programs to ensure that sports were top priority.

"You could just think about it, you know," Chloe said.

"Fine. I'll think about it," I said. But even as I took the form from Chloe, I had no plans on following through with it. I mean, I hated confrontation with my classmates, and if I ran for president, that's exactly what it'd turn into. Me against Jenna and all the popular kids. I'd rather be invisible to them. It'd taken me years to get over all the things the jocks had said to me in the halls in middle school. Years to find me. Nope, I didn't want to go back down that road again. I had the newspaper and drama club and didn't need anything else. In fact, I was okay with being the girl no one noticed. Unless of course you counted the principal, but I didn't want to even think about that.

"Now that that's out of the way, what are your thoughts for musicals?" Mrs. Parkins glanced around the stage.

"The only one we haven't done in the last few years is Little Shop of Horrors," Tom Ditwell said.

"Anyone else?" Mrs. Parkins said.

No one answered. I mean, what was there to say? We basically had four choices. Three of which the seniors, like me, had already performed.

"Little Shop of Horrors it is, then. Tomorrow we'll get scripts and music handed out and go over tryout times. So if that's it, you're all free to go."

I grabbed my Star Wars backpack from the floor and followed Chloe out the door. "I wonder if I could con my mom into giving me an advance on my allowance," I said.

"For what?"

"To buy us new scripts or something. I just can't believe this." We headed down the hall toward our lockers. The scent of tacos still lingered in the air from lunch. Couple that with the stench of sweaty teens, and I was ready to vomit.

Luke Pressler rushed past me, nearly knocking my books from my hand. "Sorry," he called over his shoulder.

Sure he was. Him and his stupid basketball team. This was all their fault. Mr. Golden Boy and his shaggy blond hair.

"Ayla, good, I caught you before you left," Mr. Leaver said. "I wanted to let you know that the school wouldn't approve your article on transgender bathrooms. The principal thought the subject was inappropriate and would only cause an uproar."

"You're kidding! Why? I mean, this is a real issue."

"He asked if you could maybe interview Luke Pressler about his basketball scholarship instead." Mr. Leaver ran a hand through his hair.

"Oh. My. God. We might as well just send out a newspaper with pictures of all the sports teams in it. That's all anyone cares about. Not about the environment, or bullying, or transgender rights or anything important."

"I know, Ayla. Your article was phenomenal. But you know we have to have approval on everything before we go to print. Censorship sucks — but if we want to have a paper, we have to do what they say." He adjusted his glasses, refusing to meet my eye. "Look, I'm not happy about this, but the principal doesn't like the fact that you've pushed some articles through that weren't approved. Last week he made us rerun the whole paper after your story on locker room hazing printed."

"But it was the truth. There have been two instances where guys on the football team did things to underclassmen. It's like no one wants to hear the truth — so let's brush everything under the rug and pretend it didn't happen."

He sighed. "Trust me, there are lots of people who want to know about it, but the principal doesn't want to shed a negative light on the school. Plus, with funding cuts coming down, we may be forced to do an online-only newspaper, or worse, we could get canceled. So we need to be cautious."

My mouth gaped open. "Wait, what? They're cutting funds to the paper, too?"

"Yes. I'm fighting a losing battle here. We either do the types of stories Mr. Fairchild wants, or we lose everything, Ayla."

"Everything?" Crap. What about Stacy and Holly? We'd been working on the paper together since freshman year. Stacy was one hell of a photographer and Holly covered all the special interest stories. We'd all worked so hard trying to make a paper people cared about. For three long years we'd been there for one another, giving encouragement when our ideas were shot down or cheering for one another when a story worked out. And they were both depending on the paper for their scholarships for college — the competitions they'd entered to get them had rules about submitting articles they wrote in order to be eligible. So no paper meant no articles, and that meant no way to enter the competitions. Not to mention it might be the end of my own dreams. My application to Columbia University for journalism wouldn't go very far if I was no longer editor in chief of my newspaper. Sure, they looked at my grades, but if I no longer had any extracurriculars that tied in with the application I'd submitted for an early decision, I was done.

"Sorry, but sometimes we've got to bite the bullet."

Wow. Way to stand up for us. That's what I wanted to say, but instead, I nodded as usual. "What's my deadline?"

"I've already chatted with Luke, and he said he could squeeze you in tomorrow afternoon, right after school."

"Great. I'll mark it on my calendar." I spun on my heel and marched out of the school. What choice did I have? This was about more than just my future on the paper ... I needed to worry about everyone else involved as well.

"Are you going to be okay?" Chloe asked as we left the building.

"Yep. Just fine." When I got to my baby-blue Volkswagen Bug, I tossed my stuff onto the passenger seat. "I'm just so tired of this. Can't I get, like, one break?"

"At least this is our last year in this hellhole." Chloe stared off in the distance.

"Yeah, it is." And I knew when we graduated, all the classes after us would have to deal with the same stuff. I'd like to leave behind some legacy for them.

Reaching inside my backpack, I pulled out the nomination form for class president. "So, if I run for president, are you going to help with my campaign?"

Chloe screeched. "Oh my god, are you serious? Yes. Of course I will. We'll make you buttons and bracelets, maybe I'll even get you to wear a dress."

"Don't make me regret this."

"You won't, I promise."

But when I saw Jenna Lee emerge from the school, her shiny black hair swinging in the wind, I was already regretting it. What I needed was a plan — or more like a miracle. I really hoped I was up for this.

Instead of going right home, I decided to stop and grab pizza. Pizza always made me feel better. Which was probably why I wasn't tiny like Jenna. I was a stress eater, and Larkin Ridge High had a way of stressing me out on a daily basis. So I had more burger runs and pizza stops than probably the entire senior class, which Chloe normally joined me for. But tonight I had to figure a few things out on my own.

I swung by Crusty's Pizza and grabbed a small hand-tossed pepperoni and cheese and an order of breadsticks. In the parking lot, I texted my mom and told her I'd be late.

I drove around until after dark, trying to clear my head. I needed to come up with a strategy. If I wanted to appeal to people and get their vote, what did I need to do? I licked tomato sauce from my fingers as I shoved the last breadstick into my mouth.

With a sigh, I parked near Statue Falls Park, aptly named for all the art pieces in it. It was so quiet out here. I pulled a notebook from my bag and rolled down my windows. I did my best brainstorming here.

So I numbered the paper one through ten and labeled the page How to Become Student Class President (without dying or having to sell my soul).

Number one: Make people notice me.

Number two: Find things that appeal to them.

Lame. And more lame. I was horrible at this. I didn't know the first thing about running for an elected office. I mean, drama club and the newspaper were one thing. All I did was make sure people showed up for meetings, made their deadlines, and helped Mrs. Parkins keep costumes and budgets in order.

This was never going to work.

Shouting in the distance broke through the silence. What the hell was going on? I slid from my car, using the flashlight on my phone to maneuver the path near the road.

Damn, I hoped I didn't walk in on some crazy orgy or a murder or something. Because I didn't know any self-defense other than kick 'em in the nards — well, if they were male. Otherwise, I was screwed. As I got closer, I flipped off my light. Partially because I didn't want someone to see me, and partially because I didn't need it due to the bright headlights of Jack Miles's car.

There, standing about thirty feet away from me, was Luke Pressler, and he was raging out on a statue. No way. No fucking way. Golden boy Luke Pressler was getting drunk and destroying public property?

I hit record on my phone and watched as Luke pummeled a replica statue of David, knocking its wiener off. He then took it and put it in another statue's hand like it was holding a staff or something ... Er ... maybe he had some weird statue fetish.

He and his basketball buddies continued to tear things up, tossing back beer as they did it.

This was freaking perfect. Luke Pressler was going down. Tomorrow's interview with him would be classic. I could picture it now.

"So, Luke, tell me, what are your thoughts on artwork? Do you like nude statues? Have you ever chopped the penis off a stone dude?"

Yep. Let's see the school back the basketball team up now. I had proof that they couldn't ignore.

Good-bye new uniforms, hello drama club funding and newspaper headline gold.



My head still pounded from the hangover I had from the night before. Luckily, I only had one more class to get through, then an interview with someone from the school paper. Then I could be home for an hour or so before going to work, enough time to get a little homework done.

I rubbed the back of my neck. Some of last night was still a blur — well, other than the part where Jack, Brady, and I destroyed some of the statues in the park, which in hindsight probably wasn't such a good idea. What would happen if someone found out it was us? My stomach tightened with nervousness. Damn it. What had I been thinking?

But it'd felt awesome to let loose. To forget about all the responsibility piled on my shoulders. About having to work to help my mom make rent or keep groceries in the house or whether I could find someone to watch my brother when my mom and I were gone. It was nice to pretend I was someone else for a while. Someone who wasn't the man of the house or worried about having perfect grades or having a deadbeat dad.

My phone buzzed in my pocket, and I took it out. "Hey, Mom," I answered. "What's up?"

"Is there any way you can go get Landon? The nurse at the school called and said he's throwing up. They've got him in the office right now."

I sighed. "Well, I was heading to sixth hour ..."

"I'm sorry, Luke, it's just we have a big client coming in in a few minutes. My boss really needs me here. You know I'd leave if I could. I promise, I'll make it up to you." Mom sounded desperate.

And of course she knew I couldn't say no. "Fine. Call the school and let them know I'm leaving early." With a sigh, I went to my locker, grabbed my books, stopped into my sixth hour long enough to hand in one homework assignment and grab tomorrow's, then I headed out.

When I got to the elementary school, Landon was waiting in the office for me, bucket in hand. His blond hair was sticking to his forehead. His eyes welled with tears, his cheeks paler than normal. Seeing him this way, it tore me up. I hated it when Landon cried or got sick. When I couldn't fix things for him.

"Luke, I got sick."

"I know, buddy. Let's get you home, okay?" I signed him out, then grabbed his hand and led him to my rusted Gremlin — it was maroon with yellow, green, and blue stripes. Not the best-looking car, but Mom had gotten a really good deal on it. And since it got me where I needed to go, I drove it.

Once I got him home, he rushed into the bathroom. "Luke — I'm going to be si —"

I heard him puke and hurried in with him. He cried, and I rubbed his back. "It's okay. I'm right here." Unlike our parents, who were always absent. I loved him. He was the only thing that kept me going sometimes. I wanted him to have a better life. To not be a senior in high school and paying the household bills.

Or be like me, putting on a show for my friends to keep up the facade that we still had money when we were living in one of the shittiest neighborhoods in the city. The only one of my friends who even knew about our fall from grace after my parents' divorce was Brady.


Excerpted from Incriminating Dating by Rebekah L. Purdy, Stacy Abrams, Alexa May. Copyright © 2017 Rebekah L. Purdy. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Incriminating Dating 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
TheThoughtSpot More than 1 year ago
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review. Thanks to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Incriminating Dating by Rebekah L. Purdy. Ayla's point of view alternates with Luke's point of view throughout the story. Ayla is a good student that minds her own business and doesn't like to make waves. That changes when funds are being cut for drama and the school paper; the activities she participates in. Luke looks like a normal popular high school guy but he struggles with poverty and a dysfunctional family and he has only one true friend that he feels like he can confide in. Ayla decides to run for class office to make a difference but she's taking on the entire school culture when she runs. Luke and Ayla build a relationship under interesting circumstances, but sometimes that's the only way to find out who your true friends are. 4 stars for this realistic fiction story geared towards young adults who want to see fairness in the world a little more often!
etoile1996 More than 1 year ago
ayla hawkins believes in causes. she believes in standing up for what is right. she's a proud drama club member, reporter for the school paper, and pizza fan. in incriminating dating, she accidentally catches star basketball player, luke pressler vandalizing a public park with his friends. they are drunk and stupid and rich and entitled. and ayla has no problem sharing the video of their actions with the authorities, except she's running against the super popular jenna for student body president, and she could use a little help. so she makes a deal with luke. if he pretends to be her boyfriend and helps her with her campaign, she'll delete the video. luke has a scholarship to the university of michigan that would be endangered if ayla shares the video. he could be suspended from school or off the team. so he agrees to ayla's terms. and in spite of what ayla thinks of him, he's actually a pretty good guy. in fact, ayla only learns as she gets to know him, but his circumstances are so far from what she assumed they were. he lives in a seedy part of town, his mom is absent or drunk on a good day, he has no contact with his father or that side of the family, he works long hours to help supplement his mother's income, he studies late into the night because there is no other time to do it, and he often is left to watch his younger brother because he's the only one able to pick up the slack. as ayla and luke get to know each other better, they each come to understand what has shaped their points of view. ayla shows luke that while he's basically a good person, he can stand to speak up when things are not right more often. people see him as a leader, so when his friends are being jerks and he says nothing it looks like he is part of the problem. and ayle learns that not all things are what they appear. everyone has a story and you can't trust your first impressions and think you know everything based on limited information. ayla and luke go through some pretty major stuff, some of it life-changing. learning to rely on others and opening up about their problems are some of the life lessons that they both need to acquire in order to come through everything together. it's a bumpy road and they are teenagers, so things get pretty dramatic, but it also works out perfectly in the end. as always, communication is key. one of the best things that incriminating dating does is it lets us really get to know who ayla and luke are as they are getting to know each other. it's almost as if they had been defining themselves by how other saw them or who others assumed they were. but when ayla and luke are together, they are their real selves. they start out thinking the worst of one another, only to find that maybe this person they've thought so badly of, is actually pretty wonderful. **incrminating dating will publish on april 10, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (crush) in exchange for my honest review.
Laura_F More than 1 year ago
This YA fake relationship story was so sweet and adorable! Ayla and Luke have attended school together since kindergarten but they have completely different groups of friends and really don't know each other at all. When Ayla sees Luke defacing statues in their town, it gives her the opportunity to blackmail him into helping her win the election for class president so she can save the non-sports related extracurriculars. Once these two really get to know each other, they realize that they have so much more in common than they thought they would. But the plan is to end their "relationship" when the election is over. Will they keep their plan or try to turn their fauxmance into a romance? Ayla was such an awesome character. For a high school senior, she has clear plans and a solid self image. She stands up for other people and is one of the most selfless characters I've read in a long time. Luke has the strength to carry the world on his shoulders, which he often needs to do. It was great to see him opening himself up to Ayla and finally catching a break. This book deals with some intense themes but was able to show how a great support system can change outcomes. There were so many great characters in this book that I read through it in one sitting! *This is my voluntary review of an advanced reader copy*
Suze-Lavender More than 1 year ago
Ayla always stands up for the people who need it. She genuinely cares about fellow students, important issues and school clubs for everyone. She wants her voice to be heard, which is why she's in the running to become Senior Class President. Her opponent fights dirty, so Ayla needs a little extra popularity on her side. When she catches a few basketball stars doing something they shouldn't have done, she uses it to her advantage and blackmails one of them, Luke. Luke knows he's done something risky and stupid, just to feel free for a while. Being caught could cost him his entire future. He hopes that nobody has witnessed the incident, but when Ayla approaches Luke to tell him what she saw, he realizes she has a lot of power over him. Luke has to date her to make her more popular. That way she will reach more people and can give all the students at school a voice, not just the jocks and cheerleaders. Luke reluctantly agrees. Ayla isn't the type of girl he usually dates, but when he gets to know her better he finds out he likes her a lot. She might have blackmailed him, but she doesn't make demands and is actually really nice to him. Luke doesn't have any trouble to make his fake relationship believable. Will Ayla get what she wants and will Luke's scholarship stay safe? Will they come out unscathed or will both Luke and Ayla end up with a broken heart? Incriminating Dating is a great story about two teenagers from very different backgrounds who have much more in common than they initially thought. Luke's life is all about pretending and with Ayla he can be himself. That was endearing to see. His home situation is difficult and reading about his crazy schedule brought tears to my eyes. Ayla's much happier at home than Luke, but at school she doesn't have such a good time. She has a wonderful best friend, but she's being bullied and censored. I loved how strong she is. She stands up for herself and for others and she shows her bravery over and over again. She's honest and she doesn't hide behind an image, what you see is what you get. I immediately loved her. She's fun, enjoys the good things in life and she's smart and creative. At first it seems like they're opposites, but when she gets to know the real Luke, the way he is outside school, things change. She's actually perfect for him. Luke is caring and sweet. He's responsible and works hard. He has quite a few problems, but is always there for his little brother and Ayla takes some of the weight off his shoulders. Luke actually cares about her campaign and does everything he can to help. Those things were both amazing to witness. Luke and Ayla are beautiful people inside and out and it's what I liked the most about their story. Rebekah L. Purdy writes about keeping up appearances, struggling, having too much responsibility and bullying in a fabulous empathic way. Ayla is Luke's rock and Luke gives Ayla confidence, which is something precious. Their connection is genuine and very special. At first their conversations are uneasy, but soon they find out they can talk about anything and I loved how Rebekah L. Purdy handles this transition. She's written a terrific meaningful romantic story with plenty of depth.
onemused More than 1 year ago
“Incriminating Dating” was a really cute book that follows two high school seniors, Ayla and Luke. We bounce back and forth between their two perspectives, which works out perfectly. Ayla is pretty much the opposite of Luke. She is nerdy with Star Wars themed purses, working on the school newspaper and auditioning for the school musical. She’s pretty unpopular and gets teased for her weight. However, she’s happy with who she is and can handle the heat. Her senior year is off to a rocky start- the budget for drama has been halved from its already pitiful amount, and the newspaper is on the verge of getting cut entirely- all to feed into the sports teams. Her BFF Chloe comes up with a plan to save the budgets- if Ayla gets elected Senior Class President, she can influence the school board into hopefully sharing the wealth a bit more equally. Ayla just found out her article on transgender rights is cut, and the principal wants her to do an interview with the star of the basketball team, Luke. Although she is upset about it, she has to play by the rules. On her way home, she catches Luke and some of his friends defacing some public statues. She records it, considering using it for her article. When Luke stands her up for the interview, she runs into him at the pizza place where he works and comes up with a new plan- she’ll blackmail him into helping her get elected to President. His popularity would be sure to bump her social standing up a few notches and help her case. Luke is the popular jock, but he’s struggling at home. He lives with his mother and little brother, Landon. His mother works two jobs and Landon works every hour he can to help support their family. Landon’s mother has a bad habit of coming home drunk and yelling at him. We are first introduced when she calls and asks him to skip his last few classes to go pick up his sick brother from school. Luke knows he needs the scholarship for basketball to go to college the next year- he can’t afford for Ayla’s tape to come out and ruin his future. When the two collide, they learn more about each other than they would have thought, and the blackmail starts to seem like more of a catalyst for a wonderful relationship than a burden. The book takes some unexpected twists and turns, and I absolutely loved it. There are some big themes of neglect, abandonment and abuse, but nothing gets too out of hand, and things are handled well by the surrounding characters (good examples are set). This was a really lovely story and I really enjoyed it. I loved that they were not your typical high school couple and their whole journey from blackmailer/blackmailee to friends and to maybe something more. It’s a very well-written story and it is almost impossible to put down. I really enjoyed it and would highly recommend it for any lovers of clean YA romance. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.
MeganPegasus More than 1 year ago
I instantly fell in love with this cute little contemporary romance. While the premise may sound overdone and clichéd, this book is filled with such fun, relatable characters and just the perfect amount of quirkiness that it completely avoids falling prey to the trope. Contemporary romance is not normally my favorite to read but every so often I find one that is so well-done that I fall in love with it. This is one of them. (And I’ve already read it twice). I really loved the characters that are featured in this book. Ayla is such a relatable and genuine character that I feel many readers will connect with her. With her nerdy interests that include Doctor Who, Zelda, and Minecraft, and her obsession with her favorite food of pizza, she’s not the typical YA main character. I also love that Ayla is plus-sized and embraces herself for who she is and never lets it hold her back. She is certainly a character that I would find myself friends with. I loved getting to know Luke as he revealed the true circumstances of his life. That he’s not just some jock with an easy life with rich parents, but instead struggles to help feed his divorced mom and brother while keeping his grades up and performing well in basketball. Instead of the typical jock, we get to see someone who is just barely holding it together and feels like they have to put up a façade to fit in, just like so many other high schoolers. While the focus of the story is on the romance, there’s certainly some real issues that are touched on in this book and I really appreciated that. I also found the writing style and pacing to be extremely engaging and finished this book in two days. While I normally don’t care for alternating points of view in books, Purdy did such an amazing job with it that I loved the alternating chapters between Ayla and Luke. Both characters had unique voices and I loved getting to see how each of their opinions changed about the other as the book went on. The chapters also flowed together seamlessly so I never found myself irritated with being taken from an engaging event to something else in other author’s attempts in creating suspense. Overall, the writing style and plot were just done so well. There’s also a nice small-town feel to the book with the characters going on hayrides and making smores by the fire which was a fun aspect. There are definitely some typical YA tropes in this book but overall I loved the romance so much in this that it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of it at all. Basically if you’re looking for the next cute contemporary romance must-read, this is it. While it does come with the disclaimer of adult language and sexual situations, I personally feel that there didn’t need to be a disclaimer for sexual situations since they are very minor. The adult language though? Yeah, that’s fitting. If you get any amount of enjoyment out of contemporary romances, pick this book up. You won’t regret it. *I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
Sweety_LittleVoids More than 1 year ago
"Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review" Okay, the story is simple and it follows the standard formula - Geek blackmails Jock -Fake Relationship - Falling for each other -Some twist - All is well that ends well. The author has followed the formula to the T. So about the characters - Ayla Hawkins - a geek who runs the school paper as well as a main part of drama club is outraged that the school has cut off funds to art clubs and instead increases funding to sports. She comes off like a geek-rebel but she keeps saying she is just a bystander who normally doesn't talk much. She says she hates the rich families and their kids who act like everything is under their disposal, but she isn't poor, mind you! She has tree (boat?!) house that looks bigger than Luke Pressler's house. So I found it hard connecting to her. Luke Pressler - popular jock, putting up a pretense in school that he is still rich and lives in big mansions. But inside he is raging and trying to cool off his hatred towards his dad for forsaking them, and in a moment of rage vandalizes public property. But otherwise, he is responsible big brother to Landon, takes care of him and helps his mom in paying bills. The fauxmance turning to romance is predictable but I did enjoy it. All through the book, I was waiting for the video to go into the wrong hands. Because, duh the formula! I'm being honest here and will list out the things that I liked and disliked. I liked that Ayla stood for many causes but resorting to blackmail was beneath her. Like she should have just asked Luke to help with her campaign , why particularly to be a boyfriend. There's a confusion to most of the characters - Luke's mom is first portrayed differently, so I'm not able to digest how things turn out eventually. The number of times the characters repeat something about themselves. Like Luke, stressing so many times that he is paying the bills or how Ayla stresses multiple times about jocks and all popular kids being judgmental jerks. Or Jack and Jenna's "you're going down!" I liked that Ayla was curvy and was confident about her appearance, and doesn't mind stuffing herself with pizza. I loved Landon