The Real Thing: A Novel

The Real Thing: A Novel

by Cassie Mae

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In this electrifying novel from Cassie Mae, two close friends surprise themselves by shifting from platonic love to sexual attraction.
Eric Matua has one friend—his best friend and childhood sweetheart, who needs a place to stay for the summer. Mia Johnson has thousands of friends—who live in her computer. Along with her email chats and Facebook notifications, Mia also devours romance novels, spending countless hours with fictional characters, dreaming of her own Romeo to sweep her off her feet. When she starts receiving supersweet messages from a stranger who thinks she’s someone else, Mia begins to believe that real love is possible outside her virtual world.
When the two friends become roommates, Mia finds herself falling harder than she ever thought she could. But Eric keeps his desires locked away, unsure of himself and his ability to give his best friend what she deserves in a boyfriend. As her advances are continually spurned, Mia splits her time between Eric and her computer. But she soon realizes she’s about to lose the only real thing she’s ever had.

Praise for The Real Thing
“Cassie Mae is awesome! The perfect balance between laugh-out-loud funny and achingly poignant, The Real Thing is the ultimate escapist read. I didn’t want it to end!”—Lauren Layne, author of Isn’t She Lovely

“Watching two best friends figure out how to fall in love makes The Real Thing a summer read of swoon-worthy perfection.”—Jolene Perry, author of The Summer I Found You

“Cassie Mae’s The Real Thing made me want to close out every social media app and electronic device I have, but I couldn’t manage to stop reading!”—Rebecca Yarros, author of Full Measures

“A heartfelt, fresh and romantic read.”—Book Crushin
“I really loved this book. It deals with relevant issues and gives us two very unique characters you can’t help but root for. The cute little updates or tweets that start each chapter, which are told in alternating POVs, were unique and added to the story. Definitely enjoyed this one and I am looking forward to other books from Mae.”—So Many Reads

“If I had to point out the most romantic novel I’ve ever read or if I had to name the novel whose characters I most identified with, I would shove this one into your face.”—Closet Geeks and Slo Mo
“I would easily recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a new adult book.”—Home. Love. Books.

Praise for Cassie Mae
“Cassie Mae’s writing is fresh and original!”—Rachel Morgan, author of the Creepy Hollow series
“A fabulous author who tugs on your heart strings as if she owns them.”—Jade Hart, author of Coffee and Cockpits
“Cassie Mae has a knack for developing characters who have you wanting to climb into the pages and become part of their world.”—Theresa Paolo, author of (Never) Again
“Cassie Mae’s books have become my latest guilty pleasure. Pleasure, because who doesn’t love to read a romantic comedy? And I say guilty because when I lay my hands on one, I tend to read them in one sitting and let all my other responsibilities go to the wayside. What dishes?”—Pauline Creeden, author of Sanctuary
“Mae is very good at getting me to chuckle throughout an entire book, because her heroines are quirky and unique.”—Book Nerd

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553392531
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/19/2014
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 504,863
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Cassie Mae is the author of a few hundred—okay, maybe not that many—books. Some of which became popular for their quirky titles, characters, and stories. She likes writing about nerds, geeks, the awkward, the fluffy, the short, the shy, the loud, the fun. Since publishing her bestselling debut, Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend, she has published and sold books to Random House and founded CookieLynn Publishing Services. She has a favorite of all her book babies, but no, she won’t tell you what it is (mainly because it changes depending on the day). Along with writing, Cassie likes to binge-watch Once Upon A Time and The Flash. She can quote Harry Potter lines quick as a whip. She likes kissing her hubby, but only if his facial hair is trimmed. She also likes cheesecake to a very obsessive degree. You can stalk, talk, or send pictures of Luke Bryan to her on her Facebook page.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Emilia Johnson
25 minutes ago

Today I get to see my best friend after THREE VERY LONG YEARS!—feeling excited with Eric Matua
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Every morning, I get a text from the greatest man alive.

Good morning, bug. When you get to the beach, touch the ocean. I’ll touch the ocean here, and it’ll be like we’re together again.

I grin just as a big fluffy pillow that smells like hairspray slams against my face, then flops down on my keyboard.
“Put that damn phone on silent.”

I’ll give my roommate a pass since A) my phone’s given off around twenty-three message alerts, and it’s only nine o’clock; B) I’m on my laptop, so I don’t really need the cell to bing! every time an email comes in, because I can see it; and C) Eve is about-to-pop pregnant. She sleeps most of the time, but if she’s not sleeping, she’s complaining about being so damn tired.

I pick up my phone and make a big show of pressing the silent button, and then type in my response.

Very lyrical for a fisherman, Dad. ;) Love you.

Eve shifts on her bed, brows furrowed in a very “I’m not amused” expression, and curls into Paul’s arms. He sleeps just fine through the cell noise, but I’m pretty sure Eve has tired him out with the late night cravings. Last night he came into our dorm room with the Cookies & Cream Klondike bars Eve was begging for, only to have her eat a bite and tell him it made her stomach upset. I threw Paul a “don’t worry” look, because I was on those Klondike bars like white on rice.

My computer sends out a notification—bee-boop—and I quickly shut off the sound before Eve blows fire from her ass. I’ve made it through twenty emails, so only a few left, and I take a big bite of my cheese Danish as I click over to read email twenty-one.



Subject: Remember when


If you opened this email, please keep reading! I want to apologize, even if it won’t do anything because I’m a total shit and hurt you so much I’ll probably never get your forgiveness. But I am sorry. And I want you to know I think about you.

A lot.

Hell, more than a lot.

I sat at one of my brother’s concerts the other night, smiling like an idiot because I couldn’t stop thinking about the last concert we went to. The poor schmuck behind us never saw your elbow coming. You were always so wild . . . and I mean that in the nicest way possible. The second the first chord hit, your arms went up and his nose went “crack!”

You kept telling me it was a natural reaction for guys to throw punches, no matter if the recipient was a girl or not. But no way in hell was I buying that. No one touches my girl, even if it was a “natural reaction.”

You were well worth the night at the police station, the bloody nose, and bruised knuckles. Especially when you curled up on my chest afterward, and said I looked sexy with tampons up my nostrils. (Something that stays between the two of us.)

It was the moment I fell in love with you.

I haven’t stopped.


Um . . . hello, creeper spam alert! What the hell is this? Who the hell is this? I’ve had creepy emails before, comes with being involved in social media, but I haven’t had someone make up a past for us. I press delete, but there is a second or two when I seriously consider responding with a piece of my mind. Maybe a list titled “How Not to Impress a Girl: Your Creepy Email Edition.”

Instead of responding, I click from my email to my Facebook tab and laugh at the emoticon sticker my cousin just IMed. I type a quick response of LOL, then scroll through my feed looking for eBook deals. Usually my reader buddies post as many as they can find, and when I find the posts, I one-click like crazy. Better keep my Kindle stocked for this summer. My job isn’t full time, so I’ll have lots of lazy hours for reading. I consider this a very positive thing.

Oh! The book I’ve been waiting to get is only ninety-nine cents. I let out a, “Hell yes!” and dance in my rolly chair.
“Ugh, Mia,” Eve grumbles, scratching the top of her pink-blonde hair. “Aren’t you supposed to leave soon?”

“I don’t have to leave till, like, eleven,” I say, scrolling through my Amazon recs.

“It’s 10:58.”


I slam the lid to my laptop down and slide it into its case. “Crapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrap . . .” Tossing the strap over my head and grabbing the handle to my large suitcase, I lean over Eve and pepper her forehead with kisses.

“Love you, love you, love you . . . call me if you need anything.”

“I will. Have fun with your high school sweetheart.”

“Eric’s not a sweetheart,” I say, double-checking the front pocket of my luggage to make sure I have all my chargers. “Well, he’s a sweetheart, but he wasn’t my sweetheart.”

“You talk to him all the time. I sure as hell hope he’s something.”

My cheeks warm, and I can feel my lips forming a dorky grin. “He’s my best friend.”

“Whatever!” Eve kisses my cheek and then smacks it. “Just have fun and get out of here.”

Customer Reviews

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The Real Thing 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
psee More than 1 year ago
5 Very Real Stars The Real Thing by Cassie Mae is one of the most realistic books I have read lately. Mia Johnson is going to spend the summer with her best friend Eric Matua. Eric has been in Samoa for the past 3 years and Mia is glad she is going to finally be able to see him. Not only was he her best friend but she also has crushed on him since high school. Eric, having dealt with esteem issues and a bad relationship has no idea how to handle his attraction to Mia when he sees her again. There are issues from his past that he needs to deal with before they can go forward, but for Mia it will be worth the try. One can argue this book is sort of like a love triangle when in fact it isn't. But interestingly, this is where the most real part of the story comes from. For Mia, dealing with a father who is always off to sea and a best friend who moved to another country, Mia relied on the internet and skype to keep in touch. Along the way she has become social media addicted. When emails keep popping up in her inbox from a man looking for his ex Mia, she can't help but let the man know he has the wrong girl. In doing so, they begin IMing often and this is where the issue comes in. How many of us often overlook the people we are with simply to see what is going on with our cyber friends. I really loved this book. It deals with relevant issues and gives us two very unique characters you can't help but root for. The cute little updates or tweets that start each chapter, which is told in alternating POV, were unique and added to the story. Definitely enjoyed this one and I am looking forward to other books from Mae. Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Tired-college-student13 More than 1 year ago
This was cute, sexy, and addicting. I literally could not put it down for hours, and when I had to tear my attention away I still thought about what I had just read. About two friends who become more and one has such bad self image issues that he has to see a therapist. You get to read each character's point of view which helps you understand them better than you would from a one person point of view. Read this now.
THHernandez More than 1 year ago
4-1/2 stars. This book has a lot going for it. Eric and Mia's long-term friendship, mutual crushes, interesting characters, and lots and lots of social media. Mia is addicted to the internet and social media. She's also been in love with Eric since high school, but he had a girlfriend so nothing ever came of it. When Eric returns to the States after spending time in Samoa, the two share an apartment in the Florida Keys for the summer. They kept in touch via the internet over the years, so they pick their friendship up right where it left off, both oblivious to the feelings each has for the other. The story follows these two as they explore a relationship beyond the platonic friendship they've always had. But Mia has a hard time tearing herself away from her internet friends long enough to appreciate what she has right in front of her. Coupled with Eric's social anxiety, these two have a long way to go to get to happily ever after. Plot The plot is a little different than many new adult romances. Sure, there is the couple that everyone knows belongs together and all the obstacles that keep them apart, but Eric seems to defy the alpha male stereotype that is typical. Okay, he's super hot, but he has so many insecurities, he's anything but alpha. His lack of confidence only makes him more adorable and that totally defies the stereotype of the leading man.. Eric is sweet, thoughtful, romantic, but profoundly unaware of his qualities. The plot follows a different course as well, keeping me on my toes. I never really knew how it was going to play out. The only issue I really had with this story is the ending. Without giving anything away, I felt like Mia was forced to work too hard to redeem herself without Eric having to own up to his overreaction. He ultimately accepts his role and apologizes, but it's a minor blip compared to Mia. World Building The setting us the Florida Keys (I think), but I've never been so I can't be sure. But, I felt like I was there. I felt the warm summer nights, the soft silky sand that is native to south Florida. Cassie Mae also does a masterful job of creating portraying internet /social media addiction and taking us inside the world of social anxiety. Characters The two main characters are solid, deeply layered, and unique. The rest of the cast are in supporting roles and they don't appear much, but still don't come across as one-dimensional. I think they're fine for the parts they play. But Mia and Eric are so well-developed that the rest don't really matter. This is their story and its told really well through dual-first-person points of view. The author does a great job of differentiating their voices so Mia never sounds like Eric or vice versa. Top Five Things I Love About  The Real Thing 1. Mia's love of social media, because it's something we can all relate to. 2. Eric's social anxiety. While I couldn't identify with it, I feel like I have a better understanding of it now, and that's always a good thing. 3. The first shower scene -- and it's not at all what you'd expect from that description -- it's sweet and steamy at the same time. 4. Dr. Seuss. Just love that Eric reads Dr. Seuss to Mia. 5. The friendship, because I married my best friend, so I know how friendship can become something more. Something that lasts. Bottom Line A wonderful new adult romance that is a refreshing break from what I've been reading in this genre. I love the characters, their story, and their enduring friendship.
WorldsCollide More than 1 year ago
I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH! Okay. Now that I got that out of my system, let's see if I can communicate coherently. Funny, enjoyable, and a delightfully sweet romance, The Real Thing was absolutely incredible. The story of an internet-addicted girl and a socially anxious boy going from best friends to lovers, this book was fantastic. I loved every bit of it. Mia was a great heroine. She was a very realistic character, whose flaws made her more likable because they made her feel real. She, like many people, is seriously addicted to the internet and can't go five minutes without her fingers inching to her phone. Unfortunately, it starts to take a toll and she has to choose between her virtual friends and her real life friend. Cue the drama. But, seriously, I thought she was a lovely character that was easy to relate to. I really liked her. Eric was such a sweetie.He was so sweet and adorable, I just wanted to give him a hug. Just look at one thing he said: "I can't tell if  hear your heart beating, or if it's mine," I say against his skin. His fingers glide over my shoulder, then trail down to my elbow.  "Aren't they the same thing?" Isn't that so adorably sweet? I thought it was. He had social anxiety and, because of his shrew of an ex, it only got worse and made being in a relationship difficult for him. Like Mia, his flaws made him real and made him an even more likable character. I absolutely loved him. The romance was just wonderful. Mia and Eric were so lovely together. I love friends-to-lovers stories and this is a really great example of one. They were such a sweet couple. And, they definitely had some chemistry between them. I thought they were perfect together. The plot was fast paced and I was hooked the entire way through. I absolutely loved the story and the ending was just delightful. The Real Thing was an absolutely fantastic, amazing, delight of a New Adult romance. I loved every bit of this book, from the characters, to the romance, to the wonderful story. This book was so sweet, hilariously funny, and enjoyable all they way through. Romance lovers, this book is a must read. *I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This writer writes just like she is talking with you. First read of her books and I fell for Eric. I understand all those body insecurities and being afraid to bare it all...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book isnt super long, but the author amazingly develops in-depth characters that are life-like. Great story line with hooks along the way to peak your interest and keep you intrigued.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Youthful writing for a modern audience
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was just amazing! I couldn't stop reading once i started the story i was sucked in. Eric and Emmy are soo cute! I would definitely recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im halfway through, unfortunately, and i cant make myself finish it. It is just so childish, i can live with ditching this book, i only regret wasting so much time on it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it. Read it straight through.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hated it. Not worth the space in nook memory...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so meaningful. I could not put it down!! I recommend this book to everyone. Loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RachelMorgan More than 1 year ago
Romance novelist Cassie Mae scores again with her ability to deal with real, complicated issues in a light-hearted and humorous (often downright snort-worthy) way! Here's what I appreciated in THE REAL THING: - Real characters. Emmy and Eric are far from perfect. It isn't often that you come across a hero/love-interest who happens to have major insecurities, presenting a situation where the heroine gets to be the strong one (even though she has issues of her own in this case!). Eric's past and his anxiety added a level of complexity to this novel as well as a kind of "innocence" to his character that was endearing. - Real issues. More than anything, this book made me think about internet addiction and the number of hours I spend in front of a screen. Even though I'm nowhere near as bad as Emmy, I should probably spend less time with Facebook and more time with the people in the REAL world around me! - Not too much sex. With all the New Adult books out there are basically erotica without the erotica label, I appreciate any contemporary romance that is light on the sex scenes! Bottom line: Thought-provoking and funny, fans of Cassie Mae's NA books will enjoy this one. (Received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)
kimberlyfaye More than 1 year ago
The friends to lovers trope is one of my favorites in the new adult genre... or any genre, for that matter. Cassie Mae does a fantastic job writing this trope and The Real Thing is a perfect example of it. I've enjoyed Cassie's other books, particularly Switched, so when I saw this one, it was a no-brainer for me to read it. With easily relatable characters and a sweet romance, this book captured my attention.  It's a pretty rare thing when my favorite character in a book is someone other than the main character. That's exactly what happened here, though. Don't get me wrong, I liked Mia. I related to her on some levels, but at the same time, I was very clearly rooting for Eric more than her. Eric is pretty much ME, but as a guy. He has anxiety and struggles with his weight. He doesn't like being touched because he's uncomfortable in his own skin. His recent weight loss didn't fix all his problems. (You know, because it doesn't in real life either.) He's a strong, but flawed character and I absolutely loved him. His insecurity, mixed with his sweetness, won me from the start.  All that said, Mia was a good female character. She broke the norms of the genre. She knew what she wanted and she wasn't afraid to go after it. She had her own flaws, too. The biggest of which was her reliance on her phone and social media. I'll be the first to admit there are times in my life I'd much rather talk to my friends online than the people I'm with in real life, but Mia took it to an extreme. But, you know what, I know people who are just like that. Really. And I could more than understand why Eric reacted to her behavior the way he did.  I loved Eric and Mia together and I rooted for them. I thought their relationship developed perfectly as they got to know each other again. Sure there were some tough times, mostly brought on by Eric's insecurity and Mia's addiction to social media. But, you know, nothing felt fake or forced. It was easy to love these characters, flaws and all. They were relatable and real. As much as I love the other types of new adult lit – the bad boy/good girl, famous guy/normal girl, rockstar, fighter, athlete – realistic fiction remains one of my favorites. Cassie Mae writes it wonderfully well. She's definitely on my auto-buy author list. I look forward to seeing what she gives us next! I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the writing wit of this author - great characters and story - must read.
BookMama_1 More than 1 year ago
Emilia (Mia) is on her way to spend the summer with her best friend whom she hasn't seen in three years. Well, Skype doesn't count. Eric is nervous about seeing Mia for the first time in three years. Things have changed since he last saw her. He's changed since he last saw her. After settling in and catching up, Mia and Eric start to realize there might be more to their friendship. The only problem is Eric's past and Kia's addiction. Can they get past these things and make it work? Is it worth it? This was a sweet book. For once it was nice to see the male character with bigger issues than the female character. It moved along at the right pace and was written very well. What I didn't like about the book was the "posts" at the beginning of each chapter. I get why the author did it. In my opinion, it was just a bit too much and seemed a bit overkill for Mia's addiction. I understood the level of her problem in the story and didn't think it was necessary. Even though this bothered me, it will not deter me from reading more from Cassie Mae. ***I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review***
csingh More than 1 year ago
Expectations are a funny thing. I'd never read a book by Cassie Mae before this one, and I feel like I've missed out on so much. This book is funny, thoughtful, insightful, and entertaining. It takes story telling and issues we face in our own lives and elevates it to a new level. Eric and Mia were adorable. I loved them together and individually. Mia's concern for her overseas father really resonated with me; I'm the worrier in my family so I understood where her concern was coming from. Not to mention the addiction to the internet and social media. I'm guilty of getting on to do one thing and then realizing hours later time has passed and I still haven't done what I originally got on to do. I hated how much Eric suffered at the hands of his ex. Calling her a nasty piece is being nice to her, and the language I want to use isn't appropriate or mean enough to do her justice. We all know words have meaning and power, but they should never be used the way they were on Eric or on anyone else for that matter. I absolutely loved Eric and Mia as a couple. I do wish they'd been more honest with each other, but it's hard being in a relationship and harder when you've got a close friendship like their's on the line as well. The chemistry between the two was beyond hot. Scorching I think is a better word, even though they took things really slow. So slow, I thought I was about to combust if one of them didn't do something!  I believe I enjoyed this book as much as I did due in part to a number of things. The story was written really well. It was interesting and unique. I've never seen a book with a hero or heroine like this one. I loved the social issues like bullying and social media usage it tackled. Everything just went well together. I'm hoping Cassie Mae might write a novella or a full length novel letting us see Eric and Mia while they were in high school and just friends. It'd be such a great story. In the meantime I'm off to get all the Cassie Mae books on my wishlists. I've got some reading to catch up on!
gromine49 More than 1 year ago
Emilia and Eric have been friends since high school and during one summer break from college, Emie decides to get away and visit her friend Eric on the beach in Florida. Unbeknownst to Emie, Eric is now HOT Eric after losing weight and working out. He has panic attacks and has been criticized in the past by a previous girlfriend. I have never read a New Adult book before and this was a refreshing story. It made an interesting point about how the younger generation has become obsessed with social media and constantly has to check Facebook, Twitter and email.  A truly enjoyable story but by the end I did get tired of Emie constantly looking at her social media and I began to feel sorry for Eric.
Bette313 More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful friends to lovers story that takes an interesting look at the effect social media has on relationships today. The main characters of Eric and Mia are both beautifully flawed and so incredibly real. They both love deeply and work to overcome some very personal issues, together. You can't help but cheer for these two. I highly recommend this book to everyone.
bouncyberthaCR More than 1 year ago
3 - "Only bookworms understand the kind of power stories can have on a person." Stars. I didn’t really love, and I didn’t really hate The Real Thing. It was enjoyable, but there were a lot of things about it that I felt needed more depth and expansion, I felt at times like the author had added a fact but forgot that we as the reader didn’t know the basis for it being there. It starts with Mia’s college roommate Eve’s situation with her boyfriend Paul, which although is not uncommon in this day and age, is still not something that responsible people actively plan to do at their age, and with their circumstances. I also felt the Eric and his issues needed more explanation, yes we were given a few reasons with regards to his ex-girlfriends treatment of him, but it just didn’t feel like enough to me, I also failed to understand why his brother suffered from the self same thing. ”I thought I was broken before, but now I feel shattered.” The other main issue I had was the fact that for about 75% of the book I really disliked Mia, I know this story is meant to show that some people get wrapped up in Social Media and the internet in general, to the detriment to their normal everyday lives, and that was very apparent with Mia, but I actually found her actions, for the most part rude and selfish. Eric put up with it far longer than I would expect any normally reasonable guy to, and even when he made the point of saying he was getting fed up with it, Mia just carried on doing it. Her blasé attitude about his issues and lack of experience in the beginning got on my nerves as well. ”I just want to be more important to you than that.” I really wanted to love this book, as it is really does highlight how badly the over reliance and use of technology can affect our lives nowadays. I suppose in that context it is a really good book...  I just wish I could have had the necessary development in some of the plot points to help me understand more some of the parts of the story and the characters, and their actions / reactions more. I would still read more from this author; unfortunately this book didn’t quite hit the mark for me on this occasion. The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go. ~ Dr. Seuss  ARC generously provided via Netgalley, in exchange for the above honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was pretty good. It's a quick read and is a very realistic book compared to most I've read that are similar to it.