Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Isn't She Lovely by Lauren Layne
Narrator: Kevin T. Collins, Sarah Sampino
Series: Redemption #1
Published by Tantor Audio on June 20, 2023
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Length: 8 hours, 13 minutes
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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?
Isn’t She Lovely is a prequel story to the Redemption series following two people through a summer semester in college. Both Stephanie and Ethan are avoiding things this summer. They are avoiding parents, recent breakups, future obligations and their pasts.
Stephanie is a film student; she is excited to spend the summer semester with an Oscar award winning screen writer. She didn’t think it would be a team project and that her partner is the person she least expected to see in that class. Ethan, is avoiding his family and his future obligations by taking a class over the summer. He isn’t into all this indy crap but he is smart; how hard can it be to write a script with someone else even if her entire look is all goth-go-away. There seems to be a lot more under all that eye-shadow and Ethan is a little curious to find out what.
As they recreate the Pygmalion themed story for their script (new and never done before because college), they find out they have a lot in common, have fun fighting and make a great team when trying to make the world think they are for real. Ethan needs someone for a bunch of posh events he needs to go to with family. Stephanie really needs a place to stay over the summer. The deal, Stephanie will play the society princess for Ethan and make sure his family gets that he has moved on and is never getting back with his former girlfriend, Olivia.
The story isn’t original by any means, but it is cute. Ethan is likeable and Stephanie seems like a real person who just has a few (so many) trust issues with people in general. They are still in that growth phase of their lives but seemed to forget that means you don’t have to stick to what you have always done before to be happy. I liked the characters but a few parts of the book seemed a little shallow.
Overall a fun light read that we get a few steamy scenes in because, college. I enjoy the trope in general and overall I liked the conclusion I just think a few other items should have been cleared up like Olivia and Micheal the best friend (that we never see). Also Ethan’s parents and how that worked out. I really would have liked a little closure on that front too.
Isn’t She Lovely uses two narrators to amplify the voice of each PoV. Both Sarah Sampino and Kevin T. Collins did a great job in capturing the characters and their feelings within the story. While I did like Kevin’s chapters more, I don’t know if that was due to his voice or just the writing in those chapters. Overall both narrators expressed the characters well and made them feel real. I was able to listen at my usual 1.5x speed.
Listen to a clip: HERE
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