Friday, December 19, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Isn't She Lovely by Lauren Layne

4.5 stars

The premise is one dating back through literature and film history. Guy tries to tranform girl (much different from him) for a ruse and ends up falling for her.  You’ve read it. I’ve read it. And Ethan Price and Stephanie Kendrick have seen it and read it. And it’s why they are using it for the plot of their film class screenplay as well as to work out the chemistry between them, whether they realize that or not.

Yep, Isn’t She Lovely is a modern new adult spin on the Pygmalion story as well as the theme of looking past appearances and social classes and finding your true self.  It’s cute; it’s funny; and it’s a sweet story that I couldn’t put down.

Ethan and Stephanie’s comical banter pulled me in right from the beginning. 
“‘Does this surly mood come with the goth outfit?...Or do you have to buy it separately?’ —Ethan  
‘Could you please watch where you’re pointing your teeth? The glare from your caps is hurting my eyes.’” —Stephanie
It certainly isn’t love at first sight for this mismatched pair. Ethan Price is a perfectly groomed, out-going, and privileged 21 year old college Frat boy with a penchant for Animal Planet references and who makes claims of endowment so large it’s lethal. (Oh that’s a hilarious scene!)  Stephanie Kendrick is a reserved, anti-social 21 year old film student Goth girl in combat boots, lots of black, and a rack that Ethan can’t quit staring at.  

They sound like stereotypes but really they are not. And that’s one of the many strengths of this novel—the characters are well developed right from the start and are much more layered than what they seem on the surface.  And while based on a familiar premise the story avoids clichés with the supporting characters, as well, who don’t necessarily fall into their own stereotypical personas either.

Ethan and Stephanie are both harboring secrets, stuck on sour lingering memories, and nursing their wounds. But don’t misinterpret—overall the story is quite light-hearted and fun. Those elements about their background and families are what make you relate and feel for their characters and create an engaging story that keeps you turning pages to find out what really has made Stephanie withdrawn and what caused Ethan to seek a summer escape in the film department.

This one is light on the steam scenes but has no shortage of chemistry and sexual tensions. Soft touches never seemed so sexy and well described kisses never felt so hot and sweet.

Ethan is incredibly likeable. He’s funny, quick-witted, sweet, and even when he’s working through his own issues he has his head on pretty straight.  He’s also has an adorable penchant for making memorable appearances at just the right time. 
“‘Hey, Dave, let me ask you something,…Before you hooked up with the ginger, did Stephanie ever make this weird bobcat noise when you guys were, you know…’”
Stephanie has some deeper stuff to work through and a few times I thought she let her teen angst lead her astray. The story is told via Ethan and Stephanie’s alternating first person point of view, and it works well for understanding what’s going through each of their heads and where they are romantically at all times.  

Once Ethan and Stephanie lay out the plot of their screenplay, will they bring their story to life in a successful act to fool Ethan’s social circle into believing he has a new love of his life?  Will their acting stop when they no longer have an audience? And what scenes will end up on the cutting room floor before their final draft is turned in?

If you are looking for a sweet, adorable, new adult read with a swoon-worthy male, some touching moments, and quite a few laughs, then Isn’t She Lovely is definitely one to spend an afternoon getting lost in. Opposites not only attract, they create quite a spark in this story.


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