This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
When Harper and Brody are voted Perfect Couple That Never Was they are both shocked. The two couldn't be more different. Harper is the photography nerd and Brody is the star quarterback. But since that day, she finds herself noticing him more and more. Since that day, her friends have been pushing her to ask him out. Even though she has a boyfriend, she finds herself thinking about Brody more and more. She finds herself wondering if maybe the school knows what they are talking about and she should give this budding attraction wtih Brody a chance.
Harper is that geeky girl who is hiding a rocking body. She's smart and hard-working, with a desperate drive to get the best photographs. She dresses pretty conservatively for a high school girl and she swears it's because she likes it that way. But is it really? The further into this we get, the more we see her question those decisions. I both loved and hated this. I loved that she wanted to experiment. I loved that she was brave enough to try something new. I loved that the new looks work well. What I didn't love was how it was all inspired by Brody. I'm very big on the be yourself schtick. Changing solely to impress a guy is something I feel like very girl does and something that we shouldn't. We should all put our best face forward, but there is a difference between that and drastically altering your wardrobe to get a guy. What happens when you get tired of wearing those tight tops and mini-skirts? What happens when you just want to roam around comfortably in jeans and a tee, but he expects full-on glamor all the time? That isn't what happens here, but it bugged me that her change was Brody inspired. She ends up liking it for herself, but it could have easily went a different direction.
Brody was a character I wanted to love immediately, but he took time to grow on me. He's cocky and hot and completely sure of himself. He has a bit of that player vibe going on that I tend to find slimy rather than sexy. He has enough charm to keep me from being completely weary of him, but he also has a sorta girlfriend when he starts fooling around with Harper, when gives me the skeezy vibe. Beyond that, though, he was pretty loveable. It was clear that he was sincere under all the bravado.
What I really enjoyed about this, about all Echols work really, is the relationships. It's not just about boy meets girl, it's about friends and family and self. It's goes deeper than just a flirty YA contemporary romance. Both characters are realistically flawed and relatable. I didn't always agree with their actions, but they always felt authentic and true to life. That's not to say that some of their actions weren't downright stupid because they were. That whole "make Brody jealous" bit sent me into a mini-rage because we all know that was not the right move. How is that the right thing for the moment? Those moments always anger me in books. You know, the ones where the character finds out something they don't like and instead of thinking things through, they do something rash and stupid. I'm not a fan of stupid. I actively try to avoid stupid.
What I didn't like was they was this skirted around the cheating issue. Harper is dating Kennedy. No matter how much of a jerk Kennedy is, they are still in a relationship. Nothing should happen with Brody until after that has ended. Brody is sorta dating Grace, but that's a bit more vague. Either way, lust doesn't excuse a lack of common curtsey. I hate how some novels portray cheating as acceptable because it's "true love" and the characters "couldn't help themselves." I'd just like to call bullshit on that particular concept. Be man (or woman) enough to admit want and go after it, but don't deceive people to get it. I'm a bit more forgiving here because they are teenagers and hormones do run high at that age. Plus, you know, teenagers aren't as much of an adult as they'd like to believe. Also, shit happens.
I think I may have liked this a bit more than Biggest Flirt. Even though I am still a bigger Will fangirl than I will ever be for Brody. Will is that nice, boy next door type and I love seeing those. That's beyond the point. This is a perfect contemporary YA written with Echols trademark style and wit. It's addictive and I tore threw it needing to know if Harper and Brody finally worked out their shit. If you like Echols previous work or contemporary romances, then you'll love this!
****Thank you to Simon Pulse for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****