Title: Isn’t She Lovely
Author: Lauren Layne
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group (Flirt)
Release Date: October 28, 2013
Source: eARC from the publisher via NetGalley
The rules are clear—until they’re broken. Lauren Layne puts a New Adult spin on Pygmalion, also the inspiration for Pretty Woman, and gives the classic love story its edgiest twist yet.
“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?
I am really enjoying Lauren Layne Stiletto’s series and I was eager to find out what I would feel about her New Adult novel. And I have to say that I had good feels all around. Her story-telling has always been engaging and Isn’t She Lovely proved that to be beyond true. I was with the plot and her characters the whole book through. My focus and attention: 100% on reading this one. It was charming, funny, and heart-tugging at the same time. Towards the end of the book, I was torn between wanting to know how the story ends and not wanting it to end at all because that world is something that I wouldn’t mind living in.
I love the set-up, the Pygmalion premise. There was a lot of meta quality to the whole story and I really enjoyed reading through it.
In the beginning, Stephanie Kendrick and Ethan Price were thrown together as partners in a summer screenwriting course at NYU; Stephanie because she wanted to take the course and really wanted not to go home to her father’s house and Ethan because he wanted one summer where he didn’t have to intern in his father’s company and really wanted to stay away from the girl who broke his heart. But then the plot progresses to its Pygmalion set-up, which has Stephanie pretending to be Ethan’s new girlfriend. The meta happens on so many level because they were both using the pretend show as material for their screenwriting project but at the same time, the readers know that the book is about a reinterpretation or a re-imagining of the Pygmalion story in modern times and in the New Adult book genre. I tell you, I got a high just appreciating all these levels. Kudos to Lauren Layne.
I love how the characters developed, how the plot progressed to support their developments. I particularly love their conversations, how at times they would refer to something in the surface when in actuality they’re really talking about another thing altogether and they both know it.
I would try to describe Ethan and Stephanie but I think it would be best to enjoy and encounter these two characters as you read the book. I’m just going to say that they are complex but well fleshed out characters. You want to know what makes them tick and when you finally do you love them even more. You understand that they’re not perfect but that is just to say, who else is anyway. But they’re good people and totally relatable, engaging, and charming.
I love that the conflicts, even though they can be considered cliché, felt organic to the story so that I never found myself blindsided that something came up suddenly that wasn’t grounded on anything. And there were a lot of conflicts. But they were all explored sufficiently and really came out as something that was taken under very serious consideration on the part of the author and not contrite or simply there just for the sake of the existence of a conflict in the story.
Oh, and I absolutely love the slow-burn romance unfold between Ethan and Stephanie. I love not only the major but also the minor shifts in their relationships. I love how the cliché helps build the engaging banter between them and how it was also used in the plot as an issue that lets the readers see and understand how these two characters are changing their way of thinking and how they feel for the other.
This girl doesn’t know me. She can’t possible understand that the “charm” comes on without me intending it to, even when inside I feel anything but charming.
Does she really think I don’t look at my life – at the cushy apartment I don’t pay for, the classes that come a little easier than they should, at the CEO position that’s just waiting for me…does she really think I don’t look at all that and feel exactly what she’s accusing me of?
It burns a little, because she’s right.
Who knew that pretending you’re not falling for someone would be so much more difficult than pretending that you are?
I don’t tell her how I feel, for fear she won’t feel the same way back.
I don’t ask her what’s going to happen when our screenplay’s done and after she’s moved out. Because I’m scared of the answer. Scared that what we’re experiencing now is due to the atypical situation we’ve put each other in, and that we’re not cut out for the long haul.
But I don’t tell her good-bye, either.
Because I don’t think I can stand it.
About the Author:
Lauren graduated from Santa Clara University with B.S. in Political Science that she has yet to put to good use. After dabbling in an e-commerce career, she decided to quit talking about writing and actually do it.
A Seattle-native, Lauren’s also tried on the Bay Area, Orange County and Manhattan for size. She’s currently writing from the Pacific Northwest, but is always looking for the next place to call home. Texas? The South? New England? Suggestions welcome.
For the off-the-record version, check here.
Connect with Lauren Layne: