{Review} Isn’t She Lovely by Lauren Layne

{Review} Isn’t She Lovely by Lauren LayneIsn't She Lovely by Lauren Layne
Also by this author: To Have and to Hold, For Better or Worse
Published by Flirt on October 28, 2013
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 243
Goodreads  Buy the Book

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?

Kassiah: Can an all-black wearing Goth Girl and a shiny Pretty Boy set aside their differences to make it through a summer elective–and possibly find love in the process? Financially-struggling film student Stephanie Kendrick and silver-spoon-sporting Ethan Price are about to find out in this modernized version of Pygmalion by Lauren Layne.

Stephanie Kendrick is literally knocked off her feet the first time she sees Ethan Price on the way into her summer class. He helps her up, and to her mortification, follows her into class, where the two are paired for their screenplay-writing project. They decide on a Pygmalion theme for their project but need real-life inspiration. As fate would have it, they both need something the other can provide–Stephanie needs a place to stay for the summer and Ethan needs a no-strings-attached “girlfriend” to get his parents (and his ex) off his back. They come up with the perfect solution to all of their problems.

Ethan shrugs. “Offer still stands.”

I close my eyes and shake my head slightly. “I’m not even sure I know what the offer is.”

He takes a half-step closer to me. “One month. You lose the earrings, lose the boots, lose the attitude, and do your best to convince my parents that we’re crazy-in-love, or something.”


He puts a finger over my lips and our eyes lock. “And in return, you can spend the rest of the summer staying in my second bedroom.”

It’s a brilliant idea. Of course, you know what’s coming–what happens when the lines between fiction and reality become blurred? How do they know what’s real?

These characters are more complicated that what you see on the surface. Ethan’s dealing with betrayals from all of the people in his life that matter most. Stephanie is, too, and she changed everything about herself because of it–going from homecoming queen to hiding behind too much makeup and a tough girl persona. Real feelings get involved when the two of them start to see behind each other’s facades. Or do they?

And that’s where things kind of go downhill for me. I think the idea is amazing–I love Pretty Woman and My Fair Lady and so many of the other Pygmalion-inspired stories. Layne added a fresh spin to this tale by allowing the characters to know that they’re recreating their own version of this timeless story. But that takes away some of the authenticity for me. Of course, feelings get in the way when one or both of the characters question the other’s actions. People question other people’s motives all the time. It’s just an added level of distrust when you know for a fact that you’re supposed to be pretending, and manufactured moments of tenderness for the sake of the “story” don’t make sense.

The plan was supposed to be simple, and instead it felt more complicated than any real relationship I’d ever been in.

It was as though…

A light bulb went on. That was it.

“These characters have to fall in love.”

You can only imagine how this complicates things, and I’m not going to tell you what happens. I’m just going to say that in this case, art imitating life imitating art…it’s just too much. I don’t think it’s realistic to think that they would allow themselves to start to develop feelings for each other and think it was anything but fake. Even if it wasn’t.

I’d gone and forgotten that it was a game.

A mistake I had no intention of repeating.

I loved the dialogue and the descriptions. I really liked aspects of both of these characters. Ethan is funny.

“You know, sometimes if I don’t have enough light to study by, I just smile and use the relection from these pearly whites.

He says sweet things and is swoony sometimes. Stephanie has great inner monologue and kicks ass in general. Their chemistry is palpable.

I feel his fingers wrap around my arm seconds before I’m spun around and pushed up against the whiteboard, my backpack falling to the ground as he pins my hands above my head.

They both try to deny the way the “actually” feel, but unfortunately, I had a hard time believing the authenticity of those feelings in the first place. Ethan zones out when Stephanie’s talking about things she loves and complains about her nail polish–basically, the things that make up the “real” Stephanie. He likes the “new, improved” girl. To make this even deeper, the “new” Stephanie is actually how she used to be before dealing with her demons. So what’s real and what’s pretend? I couldn’t tell, and that was an issue for me.

Something else that I didn’t like was the overall storyline–the fact that they needed to experience these things in real life in order to write this screenplay. I can almost understand Ethan because he’s a business student, but Stephanie wants to do this as her career. I can’t believe that they think they have to go through these things to articulate them onto the screen. Add to that the fact that Stephanie needed a place to stay because her only other option was residing with her ex-boyfriend, David and his new girlfriend. I think Stephanie would have rather lived in a laundromat than sleep in the same apartment listening to David screw the girl that he cheated on Stephanie with.

I’m not going to mention anything about Stephanie’s high-school boyfriend, Caleb. The whole situation sucks, and Ethan’s reaction to it (and her reaction to him) made me lose respect for both of them.

I loved parts of this book, like Stephanie’s snarky character and the realistic dialogue. I also hated parts of this book, like the ridiculously unbelievable plot and Ethan’s condescending attitude. I’m averaging that love and hate to three stars.

Report Card
Overall: 3

**About Lauren Layne**

Author Lauren LayneLauren Layne graduated from Santa Clara University with a B.S. in political science that she has yet to put to good use. After dabbling in an e-commerce career in Seattle and Southern California, Layne moved to New York City, where she now writes full-time. She lives with her husband and their plus-size pomeranian in a tiny Manhattan studio.

Find Lauren Here: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


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