The rules are clear—until they’re broken. The first book in Lauren Layne’s Redemption series gives a 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 look at him more closely, and it takes me all of five seconds to realize that this isn’t the same too-charming guy who crashed my film class and bought me coffee.
It’s still Ethan Price, but he’s . . . different. This version is closed off. His jaw is tight and his brown eyes are wary. His walls are up for some reason.
He’s still gorgeous, though, even though he’s glaring at me. Hell, maybe he’s more gorgeous because he’s glaring at me. The Ethan I met earlier in the week put me on edge with his cutesy comebacks and easy grin. This version is more like me. Guarded. Maybe a little bit angry.
Oddly, I find I want to know why.
I see him scan the crowded hallway nervously, and suddenly it clicks. This Ethan is painfully aware of his image, and a girl like me is not going to help his manly rep. It was okay to talk to a weirdo like me when he was amid a bunch of other weirdos. But these beefy jocks and skinny sorority girls are his people. In his world, people like him don’t talk to people like me. And we both know it.
It’s not like I care. Not really.
But still, I want to snub him before he snubs me, so I start to shoulder past.
His fingers find my arm before I can move; it’s a little more caveman than I would expect from someone who probably gets manicures.
“You okay, Goth?” he asks gruffly, his dark eyes searching mine.
For a second my stomach flips at his question. When was the last time somebody asked me if I’m okay?
Then reality sets in, and I realize he’s not asking if I, Stephanie Kendrick the person, am okay. He’s simply making sure I didn’t lose a tooth when he elbowed me in the face. Probably making sure I won’t take revenge with some sort of voodoo trick.
I’m startled by my own disappointment.
“Sure, I’m good.” I say in response. And I really am. Now that my teeth have stopped rattling, it doesn’t even hurt anymore.
Then it happens.
Someone jostles me from behind, pushing me into Ethan so I’m pressed up against this macho jock, my boobs landing softly against his chest and my hands finding his shoulders.
But I don’t.
He feels safe somehow, which doesn’t make sense.
“Fresh and authentic, Lauren Layne’s Isn’t She Lovely packs intelligence, wit, and an addictive romance into one fantastic read!"
— Cora Carmack, NYT Bestselling author
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