Dating Dilemmas #2: 99% Faking It – Chris Cannon

Miss Overachiever: Let me get this straight. You want to fake date me.

Man Candy Matt: Uh huh.

Miss Overachiever: But you know that I have a crush on you. [Damn it! He won’t notice that Freudian slip, will he?]

Man Candy Matt: Have?

Miss Overachiever: [Damn it!] Had! I had a crush on you.

Man Candy Matt: So, fake date me? Then the girl I have a crush on who’s perfectly happy with her perfect boyfriend will get jealous and decide she wants me instead.

Miss Overachiever: What’s in it for me?

Man Candy Matt: Well, you like Mr Cool Hair. Maybe he’ll pay attention to you if you’re with me, the boy with hair that’s not as cool.

Miss Overachiever: Hmm … You make an interesting argument. I’ve already tried to get him to notice me by wearing more makeup, even though when he originally noticed me I was hardly wearing any at all, but —

Man Candy Matt: See? So is it a deal? I mean, what could possibly go wrong?!

Book Buddy Nina (who already did her own whole boy drama thing in The Dating Debate): So … Books?

Miss Overachiever: Books!

Book Buddy Nina and Miss Overachiever wander off to go find some new book boyfriends.

Man Candy Matt: Um, hello?

We first tagged along with Miss Overachiever and Book Buddy Nina to Friday night Nerd-Girl Festivities in The Dating Debate. That was my 💔 Achy Breaky Heart 💔 read last year and here I am again, likely torturing poor Chris Cannon (sorry, Chris!) by choosing another one of her books for this year’s foray into the smoochie side of life. Oops, it appears that I’m accidentally following a romance novel series! 😯

Before I go any further, let me just say … CANNON CONSPIRACY CONFIRMED!!!

Whatever am I talking about? Allow me to take you on a journey to a time when I first became suspicious that Chris was plotting a sinister scheme to convert me, a 100% committed romantiphobe, to … wait for it … a romance novel reader! I submit to you:

I had so many food cravings while reading 99% Faking It but the ones that specifically support my conspiracy theory are:

🍕 Sausage and pepperoni thick crust with extra cheese
🍕 Meatball
🍕 More pepperoni
🍕 More meatball
🍕 More meatball
🍕 Sausage and mushroom
🍕 More sausage and mushroom
🍕 More meatball
🍕 Bacon and pepperoni
🍕 Cheese

🤤 Vegetarian

🍫 Brownie sundae with whipped cream and chocolate sauce
🍫 Chocolate frogs (mentioned but not eaten)
🍫 More brownies
🍫 Hot cocoa with marshmallows (yes, that counts!)
🍫 Do Oreos count? What am I saying?! Of course they do. Countless Oreos graced the pages!

And let’s not forget this brilliance:

“Our family motto is, Chocolate might not fix everything but it’s a good start.”

My verdict? Conspiracy confirmed! Case closed! Well played, Chris, well played. 🏆

I really enjoyed this book. I smiled my way through the banter and fandom talk and the only thing I craved as much as the yummy delectables was an invitation to Friday night Nerd-Girl Festivities. I wanted to be friends with Book Buddy Nina and Miss Overachiever. I loved that Miss Overachiever is a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl who doesn’t waste time in front of a mirror when she could be reading instead. She’s smart and fluent in sarcasm and while she loves Harry Potter (who doesn’t?!), she’s a multi-fandom girl. There were times I wanted to tell her to wake up to herself when she got snappy at Man Candy Matt but she endeared herself to me so much that I could overlook most of them.

While I liked Man Candy Matt I didn’t feel I got to know him as well as I did Miss Overachiever. The standout minor character for me was Matt’s father and naturally I adored the dogs. I consider it borderline cheating for any author to include dogs in their book since I’m such a sucker for fur babies.

I can’t believe how invested I became in this couple. I got frustrated whenever Man Candy Matt and Miss Overachiever’s romantic stars didn’t align. Either I’m getting used to the way these things called ‘romance novels’ work or there was less that irritated me this time. Unlike previous romantic reads, I’m pretty sure the feeling of hitting my head against a brick wall each time I told the characters to “COM! MU! NI! CATE!” has only resulted in a mild concussion this time around.

Once Upon a Nitpick: This pet peeve isn’t specific to this book but it did show up a few times; boys/men declaring they will punch a boy/man who is upsetting a girl/woman. I used to think this was charming when I was a teenager but now a neon sign lights up in my brain screaming, “Toxic masculinity!” at me whenever I come across it.

Favourite sentence:

“I love the smell of freshly baked carbs and coffee.”

Mmm, me too!

Favourite sentence (it’s a tie; I couldn’t choose):

“Best friends don’t let best friends date anti-Potter people.”

So, am I a romance novel enthusiast now? Hell, no! After three novels I’m definitely a converted Chris Cannon reader though, and if she just so happens to write romance novels then I guess I’m going to have to keep reading them. Sorry, Chris, but you’re stuck with me. 😊

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Teen Crush, an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC, for the opportunity to read this book.

P.S. If you can’t wait until the release date to start this book you can read the first chapter here.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Lisa is a card-carrying, book-loving Gryffindor. Solid. And that’s why everyone knows she’s awesome. Well, except for her crush, Matt. He only ever sees her as a friend. Plus, he’s got his eye on another girl. Oh well, plenty of fish and all that. 

Good thing Lisa just read a book on the “wedding ring phenomenon” – you get more attention when you’re already taken. What if Lisa pretends to be Matt’s plus one? Maybe it’ll help Matt get his girl and Lisa can hook her own fish. 

After the plan works, Matt suddenly claims he doesn’t like the view from the friend-zone and wants her instead … But she isn’t interested in being anyone’s second choice. If this guy wants to earn her attention, he’ll need more than some silly “phenomenon.” 

He’ll need to go all out …

Dating Dilemmas #1: The Dating Debate – Chris Cannon

Of course I had to read an actual romance novel during 💔 Achy Breaky Heart Month! 💔. Apologies to Chris Cannon in advance for choosing The Dating Debate. Chris, you may recall that I previously reviewed Boomerang Boyfriend and I’m sorry for any therapy bills you incurred as a result. I remain staunchly anti-romance yet your blurbs keep sucking me in. Excuse me while I continue one of my many arguments debates with Nina and West.

Me: Hold on. Weren’t you just having an anti-Valentine’s Day rant a few pages ago?

Nina: Yeah, but –

Me: Yet now you’re planning to go to the Valentine’s Day dance at your school with the boy next door, who is gorgeous and can speak fluent Harry Potter.

Nina: Uh-huh, but note that I’m not going with the gorgeous boy who doesn’t get Harry Potter at all.

Me: Okay, so I get the book thing but why are all of the guys gorgeous?

Nina: Well, I am one of the main characters in a romance novel.

Me: Hmm… So, West. Are all the girls in this book good looking as well?

West: Well, duh! Nina is cute, obviously. I’ll bet that even spatula makeup girl is a stunner. Romance novel, remember?

Me: Gotcha. So, West, you’re named after a direction. Are you a Kardashian offspring by any chance?

West: I dunno. Let me go ask my mother.

Nina: Whoa! You have a mother?

Me: So, Nina, back to the whole Valentine’s Day dance thing. You don’t like Valentine’s Day or Valentine’s Day dances and you don’t want to go, yet you’re going with the gorgeous next door neighbour just to be stubborn. Is that right?

Nina: That pretty much sums it up. You want some chocolate?

Me: Obviously! Thanks! [grabs the chocolate and starts munching] Why don’t you just stay at home and read a book on Valentine’s Day? That’s what I’ll be doing.

Nina: Sounds great, but unfortunately as a main character in a romance novel it’s in my contract that my decisions don’t have to make sense and if I stay at home I can’t all of a sudden fall in love with the gorgeous boy next door, then find something to cry over before we decide we’re meant to be together forever due to our mutual love of Harry Potter.

Me: Okaaaay… So, West. Any thoughts?

West: I just hope Nina doesn’t find out my secret. Any chance we can change this from a romance novel to another genre so I can keep my personal business private?

Me: Nope, but I’d love that because I’m sick of watching you two kiss and argue.

West: This is going to end in tears. I just know it.

Me: Yeah, me too, but what can you do. Romance novel, after all. Personally I think the two of you need some therapy to sort out your trust, self esteem and shame issues before you seriously consider dating. I hear Lisa’s mother is a good therapist. Hey, what’s the deal with you two juggling issues beyond your years within your respective families, yet you act like 12 year olds when you’re dating?

West: You’re asking me? I’m just doing what Chris Cannon tells me to do! You’re the one with a choice here! Why are you reading this book when you’re so anti-romance?

Me: Sucked in by Harry Potter, just like you. Chris Cannon found and exploited my weakness – again. [sigh] And she just had to go and include an adorable dog too, didn’t she.

West: Tell me about it! I’m still trying to get dog fur out of my clothes.

Nina: So, you coming to the bookstore tonight with Lisa and I?

Me: Of course! Got any more mini bars of chocolate?

So, Chris Cannon, you sucked me in again. If I can enjoy the non-romance parts of your romance novels then I can certainly understand the appeal for readers who actively seek out that genre. I really enjoy the way you write, despite the genre.

If you ever decide to write a YA book that doesn’t major on romance and holds onto the social issues themes but delves deeper into them, I’ll be front row centre of your cheer squad. Regardless, I’m definitely interested in reading your next book (sorry!).

My Nitpicking: Without giving anything away I think there was more to one person’s mental health diagnosis than what was revealed in the book and would have loved for this to have been dealt with further as they were an interesting character. Unfortunately they came across as though the wheel was spinning but the hamster was dead and I think they were actually a lot smarter than they seemed.

My Nitpicking – The Sequel: Some of the characters without much page time came across as fairly two-dimensional. However, with the length of the book and the issues raised in it, there probably wasn’t enough room to add another dimension to these characters. Their contribution wasn’t pivotal to the story anyway.

Favourite Sentence Snippet:

“then he kissed me again, a slow, deep kiss that scrambled what was left of my brain.”

Vindicated! Kissing in romance novels does cause brain damage in characters!

Content warnings include issues surrounding mental health.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Teen Crush, an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Nina Barnes thinks Valentine’s Day should be optional. That way single people like her wouldn’t be subjected to kissy Cupids all over the place. That is, until her mom moves them next door to the brooding hottie of Greenbrier High, West Smith. He’s funny, looks amazing in a black leather jacket, and he’s fluent in Harry Potter, but she’s not sure he’s boyfriend material. 

West isn’t sure what to make of Nina. She’s cute and loves to read as much as he does, but she seems to need to debate everything and she has a pathological insistence on telling the truth. And West doesn’t exactly know how to handle that, since his entire life is a carefully constructed secret. Dating the girl next door could be a ton of fun, but only if Nina never finds out the truth about his home life. It’s one secret that could bring them together or rip them apart. 

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book is not for anyone who has to get in the last word, but it is for all book nerds, especially those who live next door to so called unapproachable gorgeous guys. There’s no debating the chemistry.