A deliciously charming novel about finding true love . . . and yourself.
Nothing ever happens in Little, CA. Which is just the way Carter Moon likes it. But when Hollywood arrives to film a movie starring former child star turned PR mess Adam Jakes, everything changes. Carter’s town becomes a giant glittery set and, much to her annoyance, everyone is starry-eyed for Adam. Carter seems to be the only girl not falling all over herself to get a glimpse of him. Which apparently makes her perfect for the secret offer of a lifetime: playing the role of Adam’s girlfriend while he’s in town, to improve his public image, in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Her family really needs the money and so Carters agrees. But it turns out Adam isn’t at all who she thought he was. As they grow closer, their relationship walks a blurry line between what’s real and what’s fake, and Carter must open her eyes to the scariest of unexplored worlds – her future. Can Carter figure out what she wants out of life AND get the guy? Or are there no Hollywood endings in real life?
The publisher gave me a copy of this book to read and review (from NetGalley). This has, in no way, altered my opinion of the book and what is written below is a 100% honest review.
When I first noticed this book, it beckoned to me. Literally. I felt a calling to read this book. First of all, the cover is cute. It was a strong childhood desire of mine to live in a bedroom that had a window that led onto the roof. True story! Second of all, this book’s blurb buys into the cliche, but all too satisfying, celebrity-falls-in-love-with-small-town-girl-who-just-happens-to-hate-celebrities plot. It’s been done so many times before, but authors keep using this same basic plot. There’s a reason for that: it’s priceless entertainment. That is why I just had to have this book.
Anyways, I was surprised to find that this book went deeper than the regular, cliche plot. Carter Moon is a lovable main protagonist who actually likes living in the small town of Little, CA. Having given up an amazing dancing scholarship at a prestigious arts school, she’s perfectly comfortable working alongside her family at the eatery that her dad owns. When Adam Jakes, hottie extraordinaire and misbehaved teen idol, arrives in Little to shoot a Christmas movie (in the middle of summer, mind you), Carter couldn’t want less to do with him. But when Adam Jakes’ British agent, Parker, offers her the opportunity to pretend to be Jakes’ girlfriend – a position that Carter’s friend, Chloe, would die for – Carter accepts only because Parker also adds a nice sum of money to sweeten the deal.
PG: A few kisses, but nothing that you need to cover your eyes for… 😉
I liked that this story focused on more than just a romantic love. There were also other types of loves that Culbertson focused on: family, friends, etc. This kept the novel from slipping into gag-me-this-is-too-cheesy territory! I felt like I could relate to Carter’s tendency to fix others. This was plain to see in her relationship with her gambling-addicted brother, John, and in her growing relationship with Adam Jakes. I could see her personal growth through the ways she began to treat the people in her life after she started “dating” Adam Jakes. Carter learns that attempting to “fix” people doesn’t always work. In fact, usually it is necessary to let people go and figure things out for themselves. You can only love them. I really loved this. Also, I really loved the way that social media was portrayed in this novel by one of the characters:
“Okay, but think about it. Not just Facebook. Everything. We’re all trying to post our best features. Pictures, texting, just standing in line at the post office, we only give people the bits we want them to see. We walk around updating our status so people only get a version of us. Online, people have their own image-controlled environment… It’s all a part of me, but it’s not the whole story.”
(above quote is cited from the ARC version of this novel and may not be the same in the final version)
I felt like Culbertson perfectly summed up today’s media-centered society! This message, along with the lovable characters and the cute plot line, really made this novel enjoyable.
The plot is cliche, but I thoroughly enjoyed its cliche-ness. Plus, Culbertson thoroughly makes up for it with the unique elements she infuses into her story. I thought that the romantic element wasn’t developed as fully as it could have been. I loved the finale, but I felt like there wasn’t enough lead up to it. That being said, Adam Jakes was a complex character and expressing his emotions was probably hard for him.
Overall, I’d give this novel a 4/5!