Title: One of the Guys
Author: Lisa Aldin
Genre: Young Adult | Contemporary > Romance
Synopsis: Tomboy to the core, Toni Valentine understands guys. She’ll take horror movies, monster hunts and burping contests over manicures. So Toni is horrified when she’s sent to the Winston Academy for Girls, where she has to wear a skirt and learn to be a lady while the guys move on without her.
Then Toni meets Emma Elizabeth, a girl at school with boy troubles, and she volunteers one of her friends as a pretend date. Word spreads of Toni’s connections with boys, and she discovers that her new wealthy female classmates will pay big money for fake dates. Looking for a way to connect her old best friends with her new life at school, Toni and Emma start up Toni Valentine’s Rent-A-Gent Service.
But the business meets a scandal when Toni falls for one of her friends—the same guy who happens to be the most sought-after date. With everything she’s built on the line, Toni has to decide if she wants to save the business and her old life, or let go of being one of the guys for a chance at love.
This book is available on February 10th, 2015. Title available for pre-order!
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I received an ARC for review from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I’m not being sponsored to say good things about this book- I just, genuinely, have a lot of good things to say about it.
Let me jump right into it. This book is fantastic. It’s absolutely hilarious, it’s fun and light and fluffy, and it has a major “awwww” factor. YES, with multiple W’s. All the W’s you can add. I flew through this book. It is relatively short, but I was completely engrossed in the story. I loved the main character, I loved the side characters, I loved the developing love interest. I loved the writing. I can recognize minor things that, to some other people, may be problematic, but they didn’t stop me from enjoying this book as much as I did.
I can say, without a doubt, that this is my favorite vanilla, fluffy contemporary read to date. I’ve read the Anna and the French Kiss books, and I’m aware that people put those books on a pedestal for light, cute romance reads. I don’t mean to compare, but if someone would ask me for a recommendation, THIS would be my go-to book. It was absolutely adorable, and I can pick it up right now and re-read it without a problem. I’m gushing.
There are several things going on in this book. We have a tomboy, Toni Valentine, who has three guy friends. Because of a silly prank, she gets sent to an all-girls’ school, and this is her worst nightmare, because she’s never had girl-friends, nor is she particularly good with girls. We follow her integration into her school. We see how she’s able to make friends (if she can), and how the experience changes her.
We also follow another storyline. Toni’s very frightened that she’s going to lose all her friends as they’re all growing up. Everybody seems to be moving on. One of her friends is being downright mean to her, and she’s trying to keep their little gang together, because this gang is all she has known. Will she be able to?
Moreover, Toni starts a little business. It’s inappropriate and potentially problematic, because it works as an escort service without the sex. She’s trying to get this business to work, and to keep it a secret.
Then, of course, we have the love interest. Falling in love with your best friend- that doesn’t always work out very well, does it? She has conflicting feelings and she’s trying to figure everything out.
But all these story lines work together very well. They are all balanced (the last one is a running theme throughout the novel), and the result is a fun, fast-paced story with multiple plot-lines that give time to all the characters involved, rather than focusing on just one or two characters, and putting all the others in the back seat. I really, really enjoyed the story. I couldn’t stop reading. It wasn’t terribly exciting, but it was smooth and flowed very well.
Like I said, the business Toni sets up is slightly problematic. I didn’t mind it much, because I realize that teenagers make inappropriate decisions, and I’ve seen themes like these run through TV series and movies. But I can see why some people would find it uncomfortable. I, personally, didn’t.
I also thought that there were some cliche scenes in there like the “makeover” scene. Didn’t need to be there, but it didn’t do any harm either.
I really liked the characters. It’s been a long time since I’ve liked a female character so much. It’s not because she’s ‘not like other girls’ – God knows I’m sick of that trope and that one line written over and over again in books. It was because she grew throughout the novel. It was because she was so originally written, so naturally likable. Even though she’s a tomboy – who loves horror movies, who has horrendous manners, who dresses like a guy, who’s more comfortable around guys – she doesn’t necessarily bash girly-girls. One of her first friends at her new school is the opposite of Toni, and she doesn’t judge other girls for liking makeup or dressing up. I really liked that. Even though she doesn’t bash these girls, she’s still afraid to own her femininity because she unknowingly thinks its “inferior,” but by the end of the book, she’s grown and developed- she is now embracing her womanhood with open arms, WITHOUT changing who she is completely.
I thought Toni’s character was well-done, and I really loved her.
Emma was another strong character. I didn’t know much about her life in the novel, but her personality was so radiant, so independent and strong, that I immediately loved her. She’s the complete opposite of Toni, but the two have such real chemistry. They learn from each other, and I adored their friendship.
Okay, so the guys. Three adorable guys. We have Ollie, the joker in the group. We have Cowboy, the shy geeky type. And we have Loch, the adventurous yet quiet type. I loved them all unbelievably so, but I did have a problem. I didn’t really know anything about them, apart from their hobbies. I didn’t know their backstories, and I would’ve liked a little more detail in that aspect. But I loved their personalities so much (and yes, they were STRONG personalities) that I chose to disregard this.
I, personally, love Lisa Aldin’s use of language, of humor and imagery. The language fits the character like a glove. Toni is not cheesy- nor is the language. Toni is grounded and calm, and so is the language. I feel that this is really important, because not only does it make the characters come to life on the page, it makes people want to keep reading your writing. I’ll definitely be picking up anything Lisa Aldin puts out, because she is fantastic at light, cutesy romances. I can’t say enough good things.
Would I re-read? Absolutely. In fact, I think this is going to be one of those reads that you pick up every summer.
Would I recommend? DEFINITELY.