Updated: Sep 5
Isn't She Lovely
by Lauren Layne
Published by Flirt
Book #1 in Redemption series
“Who knew that pretending you’re not falling for someone would be so much more difficult than pretending that you are?”
Stephanie Kendrick gave up her whole summer to ace her NYU film school screenwriting course, so she’s pissed to be stuck with a preppy, spoiled frat boy as her writing partner. Then again, with her piercings, black-rimmed eyes, and Goth wardrobe, Stephanie isn’t exactly Ethan Price’s type, either. He’s probably got his eye on some leggy blonde with a trust fund . . . or does he?
As the summer scene kicks off in the Hamptons, Ethan is desperate to make his snobbish mother forget the pedigreed girl who broke his heart. While Stephanie’s a stretch as a decoy, the right makeover and a pastel cardigan just might do the trick. She may not love the idea of playing Ethan’s brainless Barbie girlfriend, but the free rent and luxurious digs make a tempting offer. So does the promise of a ready-made screenplay idea inspired by their charade.
But when Stephanie steps into Ethan’s privileged world, the “acting” begins to feel all too real. The kissing and touching that were intended to fool the Hamptons crowd wind up manipulating them. And Stephanie faces a question she’s too afraid to ask: Is Ethan falling for the real her or for the dolled-up princess he wants to see?
As per usual, spoilers ahead my lovelies.
Alienation from family, possible rape (doesn't remember due to being drugged)
I love Lauren Layne's books. I'm kinda reading every one I can get my hands on right now, actually. So far, I think "Isn't She Lovely" is my least favorite of everything I have read from her to date. Its not that its bad. It isn't. Its actually a very cute story. I just found it incredibly predictable. I knew that they would eventually break off things, and that their screenplay would bring them back together. I knew that in the end, it wasn't the made over version of Stephanie that he fell in love with, nor even the guarded one he first meets, but the real her.
Despite not being my favorite book, Lauren Layne is great with characters. Take Stephanie. Its obvious from the start that she is damaged. The whole goth thing I found weird, but I suppose it was a way of showing the reader a physical reflection of that damage. It wasn't really needed, as her attitude and inner thoughts were enough. Her character really shined when Ethan was able to help her come to terms with her past, get answers to her questions, and find closure. He even unintentionally helped her reconnect with her family. Once the true Stephanie started to shine, she became likable.
Ethan is your standard guys guy. He is sweet though, which is what gives his character that extra "omph". While not as emotionally damaged at Stephanie, he was dealing with his own personal issues. He has lost his best friend and long time girlfriend (he caught them kissing), and on the same day, walked in on his mother and best friends father having an affair. He keeps all this heartbreak to himself. But it kind of sucked how he treated her when she went back to her goth get up in front of his family and friends. It took getting closure with his ex, and telling his mother he knows of the affair, for him to realize that high society's opinion doesn't really matter. They are just as messy typical people. That because he was scared of what other people thought, he let the love of his life walk away. Now, his plan to get Stephanie back was cute, but predictable.
The whole fake relationship with someone you aren't attracted to, make her over into what everyone wants her to be, and fall in love plot has been used so many times. Lauren Layne does something a bit different with it though. She writes it so the characters are fully aware of what they are doing. They go into it to help Ethan get his parents off his back about his ex, and they both get ideas about the screenplay they need to write for the summer class they both took. And Ethan in the end doesn't fall for the made up version, or the goth version of Stephanie, but the real her. The plot was interesting, but predictable. I would probably only recommend it to friends, as its the first book in a series, and the second book is great. The driving force of this book, is the in depth characters and consistent action throughout the book. Lauren Layne makes sure her readers are never bored.
Ethan: "Bad breakup?"
Stephanie: "I guess. I mean, I walked in on him exploring someone else's vagina, and I can't say I was exactly understanding."
Ethan: "You like me sad? You really are a ghoul."
Ethan: "Seriously? You see a key and your first thought is self-defense? What kind of fucked-up world do you live in?"
Stephanie: "You try having boobs while walking around alone in New York. Then we'll talk."
Stephanies Ex: "Yes! Rise that big, bad donkey dick!"
Ex's new girlfriend: "Take me to pound town, baby!"
Ethan: "Did he ever take you to pound town?"
Stephanie: "Shut it."
Stephanie: "This insight into your horny childhood is delightful, but I think its safe to say that dudes aren't our primary audience here."
Ethan: “I resign myself to apologizing to the miniature goth monster.”