Adorable, opposites-attract, YA, G-rated, romantic comedy
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: April 6, 2020
Pages: 108 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Introverted, scholarly Anna has never dated because she is a very serious student who is on track to become valedictorian next year. She refuses to get less than an A in any of her classes, including psychology.
Her fellow junior, Zach, is someone Anna has seen around her school for years, but she knows nothing about him personally other than his reputation as a slacker. In reality, however, though Zach may not be college bound, he’s a hard-working guy with ambitious plans for his future, and he can’t afford to fail his psychology class.
The problem is, their psychology teacher has assigned the class with a ridiculous group project. And the embarrassing portion of responsibility relegated to Anna and Zach is to pretend to be dating each other convincingly enough that they can fool an enormously popular dating app into believing they are in love.
I hugely enjoy excellent romantic comedy, and this terrific YA romance is extremely well done. I’m a big fan of Maggie Dallen’s YA novels in general, and this is one of the very best that this very talented author has ever written.
Let me list some of the many things I loved about this book:
It has a fabulous opening that really pulls you into the story as we first encounter these two highly sympathetic romantic protagonists as they are pitchforked into their quirky, hilarious, fake-dating assignment
I very much liked the fact that, though they seem like extreme opposites on the surface, underneath, both Anna and Zach, each in their own way, is an alienated loner. This internal similarity leads to one of my all-time favorite romance tropes: You and me against the world–no one truly understood me until you.
It is a difficult feat for an author of romantic comedy to write a story that is both poignant and absolutely hilarious, but that is exactly what this wonderful book offers. Without violating the comedic tone of the book by getting dragged down into melodrama, the author skillfully reveals significant, sad issues in the backgrounds of both Anna and Zach, which greatly enriches their characterization. And the humor in this story is the most entertaining kind, for my personal taste. The author avoids slapstick entirely, which I call humiliation humor, and instead offers a great deal of witty repartee between Anna and Zach.
This story offers a sweetly innocent version of what is known as a “slow-burn” romance. Over the course of this novel, while they are fake dating, Anna and Zach progress from strangers with generally negative opinions about each other, to friendly acquaintances, to good friends, to romance.
Every character in this book is absolutely distinct, each with their own uniquely fascinating voice. Far more authors than one might imagine have a difficult time avoiding making all of their characters sound alike.
This book is a classic romance offering a guaranteed HEA and the dual point of view of both the heroine and the hero. The latter allows us to deeply get to know Zach, who is an admirable guy, well worth knowing.
There is no romantic triangle and no cheating!
The hero is not promiscuous!
This book is completely G-rated, and suitable for all ages. There is no underage drinking, no cussing, and no more than mild kissing. But even without the sex that occurs in so many YA novels these days, there is plenty of compelling chemistry between these two vibrant, attractive protagonists.
I very much look forward to the other two books in this trilogy. It looks as though there will be three different romance novels, the other two books starring two other couples from the same psychology class.
I rate this book as follows:
Romance Plot: 5