Author: Lisa Aldin
Publication: February 10th 2015, Spencer Hill Press
Pages: 320 Pages, Ebook
Source: Thank you to Netgalley and Spencer Hill Contemporary
Rating: 5/5 Cupcakes
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.
*Quotes are taken from my ARC copy, so quotes are susceptible to change*
I love contemporaries. That, and paranormal/fantasy, are my favorite genres. So, naturally, when I saw it I requested it as it had a Jenny Han feel about it. Well, I don't regret it. I absolutely LOVED this book and I seriously hope that it'll be made into a movie, I think it would be the perfect Disney movie and I would be first in line to see it.
One of the Guys is centered around Toni Valentine and her 3 best boy friends, a friendship formed in second grade when they were down by the lake and saw the black tail of the legendary lake monster, Champ. As Toni and her friends are about to enter their senior year, she decides to pull a prank on their principal. After her parents find out, they decide to ship her off to Winston Academy for Girls, a private all-girls school. She soon befriends Emma Elizabeth Swanson who has boyfriend problems and needs a way to make her boyfriend jealous, Toni decides to let her best friend - Loch - pretend to be Emma's boyfriend. Soon, word spreads and Loch (and Toni's other friends) are in demand for various reasons: to impress parents, to prove something, to make someone jealous. And so the Rent-a-Gent-Service begins. However, tensions rise between the friends, as well as between Loch and Toni as she struggles to contain the not-so-platonic feelings she begins to feel for him. Will their friendship survive the strain?
Like I said, I LOVED this book. I started it on Friday afternoon and by the time night rolled around I was over 70% through the book. I rarely, rarely read most of a book in one sitting so you can tell I really, really enjoyed it. A lot. I loved the characters, the story, the whole idea of the book, I loved the slow-burning romance, I loved the friendship, I just loved everything about it, really.
The characters were lovely. I absolutely adored Toni and I felt like I could relate to her quite a lot. She struggled with moving on, accepting change and disappointing people. She was uncertain about things and she was a very real and authentic character. I could just relate to her with so much. I'm also afraid of change and of what the future may hold (I have anxiety. I literally worry about everything and the future is definitely one of them!) and she loves her life the way it is and she loves her friends and I could feel her sinking terror as their friendship slowly started to unravel and things irrevocably changed.
"Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, layered in sweat, gasping for air, freaking out about choosing wrong or disappointing someone, even if that someone is myself." (55%)
"I hate time. It can really screw things up." (4%)
I could relate to that a lot. I worry about disappointing my friends, my family and myself - I think we all do - and it was invigorating reading about a character whose worries so accurately measure my own.
Although she starts out hesitant and weary in the beginning, she grows and she learns and she accepts the fact that things will change. She learns to let go of things and embrace the change, even though it terrifies her.
"Maybe change doesn't have to mean growing apart. Maybe it can mean growing closer."
She had good intentions, she really wanted to help her friends and she so badly wished that they could stay in this bubble, a bubble that would dismiss the fact that within a few months they would have to go off in different directions as the high-school chapter of their life closes and they forge their way to becoming an adult. I could totally understand her fear of going to university and leaving her old life behind and all the people that she had loved through the arduous years of growing up. I just utterly adored Toni and after I closed the book, I felt like I had just made a new best friend.
I adored the three boys, except for Ollie who acted like a spoiled brat for the majority of the novel. I love, love, love Loch and Cowboy (they all have nicknames). Loch was so kind and sweet and understanding and he's my new book-boyfriend. Sorry guys, I dibs him. And then there's Cowboy, sweet, adorable Cowboy who loves reading. I'm in love with him, I swear. I would absolutely LOVE it if the author wrote a book from Cowboy's perspective. He's so sweet, shy, clever, awkward and I just love him so much. Ollie infuriated me to no end. He was rude and obnoxious to Toni and he blamed her for ruining his snowboarding plans because his parents became severely strict with him after him and Toni pranked the principal. I was like "IT WAS YOUR FAULT, stupid." as you went along with it and you were known to not take things seriously beforehand.
I also really liked Emma, Toni's new friend she makes at her new school. She was sweet, hard-working and determined as it was in her Life Plan to attend Harvard. I love it when characters have goals and it was lovely to see a character who will try her hardest in life to make her dreams come true. I also loved her and Emma's friendship and I think it was healthy for Toni to finally have a female friend as there are just some things you can't talk about or do with male friends. So it was lovely to see Toni's progression in making friends outside of the circle of the three boys.
The romance was quite slow-burning and the majority of it was skinny love: when two people know they're in love and they mainly show they're in love but they don't admit it. Most of the book I wanted to shove Toni and Micah's heads together and yell "KISS ALREADY" - although I most certainly did participate in yelling just that at my Kindle screen. You could tell they were in love and that they had chemistry but they didn't want to admit it in fear of ruining the friendship and I was just like:
But yes, I do ship them and I wish I could've seen more of them together.
I loved the plot. I loved the Rent-a-Gent service and I loved the Hunt they went on for the legendary lake monster to see if they could spot him again. I loved watching Toni transfer to her new school and I loved reading about them going to the ski camp. I wasn't bored for a single moment and it kept my attention the whole way through.
I also love the way Lisa writes. There's never any awkwardness in dialogue, there's no halting in the plot, it's written in the perfect manner, in the perfect pace. An impressive novel for a debut author!
Overall, One of the Guys was a book that I was highly anticipating and it definitely lived up to my elevated expectations and I will go so far as to say it's one of my favorite books I've read this year. With charming characters, a gorgeous story line, a wonderful romance and superb writing, One of the Boys will steal your heart, make you laugh and make you feel desperation simultaneously along with the characters. A magnificent debut novel.
I give it: 5/5 Cupcakes!