Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Fine Art of Pretending #1

The Fine Art of Pretending

Rate this book
According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you're friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.

256 pages, Paperback

First published September 30, 2014

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Rachel Harris

15 books1,337 followers
New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Rachel Harris writes humorous love stories about girls-next-door and the hot guys that make them swoon. Vibrant settings, witty banter, and strong relationships are a staple in each of her books...and kissing. Lots of kissing. Rachel's books have been featured in USA Today and Glitter Magazine, and her stories have been finalists in the National Reader's Choice Award, the Holt Medallion Award, and The Golden Quill.

For the latest news & exclusive excerpts, visit her website at www.RachelHarrisWrites.com and sign up for her NEWSLETTER: http://eepurl.com/olH75

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
1,777 (25%)
4 stars
2,265 (32%)
3 stars
2,052 (29%)
2 stars
565 (8%)
1 star
213 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 692 reviews
Profile Image for Rachel Harris.
Author 15 books1,337 followers
May 8, 2021
So yes, I'm the author, so again I'm totally biased. But I love this book :) It was my first book baby, it is filled with all the things I love (heart, laughter, romance, friendship, finding yourself), AND it's my first dual character POV book to be published. Can't wait for you to meet Aly and Brandon!
Profile Image for  ••Camila Roy••.
161 reviews49 followers
April 5, 2018

This was a cute, fun read. I’m a sucker for the friends-to-lovers trope. Can’t get enough of it! Rachel Harris did a good job at keeping me hooked, I liked her writing style and the overall dynamics of the story. However, I did feel like it dragged on and went a little overboard with the angst...Hence, the 3 star rating.

I’m a hopeless romantic, so any contemporary romance is right up my alley. If you’re like me, then I guarantee you’ll enjoy this. It´s something cute and fluffy to brighten up your day :=)
Profile Image for Anniebananie.
523 reviews393 followers
October 14, 2016
Süße Liebesgeschichte für zwischendurch. Das Rad wurde zwar hier nicht neu erfunden, dennoch konnte mich die Geschichte rund um Aly, Brandon, Justin & Co. grandios unterhalten. Am Anfang wirkte leider vor allem Aly sehr infantil, aber im Laufe des Buches ist sie mir doch ans Herz gewachsen. An der ein oder anderen Stelle musste ich mir vielleicht sogar ein Tränchen verdrücken. Als Gesamtpaket also eine wirklich tolle zuckerwattigweiche Story zum Wohlfühlen.
Profile Image for lucie.
489 reviews619 followers
May 25, 2018
The writing was horrible, the characters didn't act like high schoolers, lame dialogues, a lot of bad cliches, overdramatic. I don't even know why I forced myself to finish this..

My 12yo self would probably like it, though.
Profile Image for Hannah.
499 reviews
June 13, 2014
The cover of The Fine Art of Pretending is adorable, and when they're well done, this type of story can be really cute. Sadly, The Fine Art of Pretending doesn't belong in the "well done" category, in my opinion - the characters are frustrating, and the plot drags on with unnecessary drama about nothing. The Fine Art of Pretending just didn't work for me.

Aly rubbed me the wrong way from the first page on, since the novel starts with her plan to give herself a total makeover of appearance and personality, in order to get guys to like her. I know this was to be expected from the description, but I had somehow assumed she was making these changes for herself, rather than for male attention. But... no. The whole thing is about getting guys to like her. Her entire self-worth is based on male perceptions of her, which is problematic in so many ways. When she finds out that the guys at her school have organized girls into two groups - Casuals (girls to hook up with) and Commitments (girls to have relationships with) - she is only concerned with wanting to become a Casual, rather than being outraged at how offensive and objectifying this distinction is. Yes, I understand that Aly isn't supposed to be entirely likeable at the beginning of the novel, since the plot is about her character growth. But this character growth focuses on her learning she is really a Commitment and shouldn't try to be a Casual, rather than dismantling this ridiculous binary. The depiction of femininity within these two groups is highly stereotypical and demeaning to both "categories" of females. It also bothered me how the only way for Aly to become okay with being a Commitment is realizing that this is something guys do like - rather than becoming comfortable with herself regardless of male perceptions of her. The problems with the depiction of gender roles and definitions of femininity in this novel are just endless.

Brandon isn't much better. His views of gender are also highly problematic, but I think my feminist rant has gone on long enough, so I'll talk about my issues with his character, regardless of gender stuff, instead. Honestly, I just don't think his story was strong enough. The main obstacle standing in the way of Aly and Brandon being together, once they've realized they have feelings for each other, is that Brandon believes relationships always end and therefore aren't worth it, which he learned from seeing his mother grieve the death of his father. This idea has a lot of potential, but it isn't developed enough to actually make me feel for him. We never find out anything about his dad, other than that he died, or his mom, other than that she's grieving; they're very, very one-dimensional characters. We also never really get to see Brandon grieve his father, other than making those statements about how he learned that relationships only cause pain. If we had really gotten insight into how grief has affected his family, I could have sympathized with Brandon and understood his reluctance to start a relationship, but because the storyline is so underdeveloped, it seemed kind of contrived and constructed only to have Aly and Brandon face some kind of obstacle.

Most of the secondary characters are just personifications of stereotypes. I really wanted to get to know Aly's girl friends, but the only time they play a role is when Aly needs someone to discuss her guy troubles with; I don't think they ever have a conservation that doesn't revolve around one of their relationships with a guy. All the other characters are just the stereotypical popular high school kids who don't get real personalities. And what is up with all of these one-week relationships everyone is having?? The only other character we get a little bit of insight to is Justin, but his story is oversimplified, too.

I can't really think of a nicer way to put this; I just didn't like this book all that much. There are many books out there who do the friendship-turning-into-romance storyline a lot better than The Fine Art of Pretending does. This story is melodramatic, stereotypical, and highly problematic regarding perceptions of femininity. I just couldn't enjoy it in any way.

Reviewed at http://www.paperbacktreasures.blogspo...
Profile Image for Amelie.
Author 11 books566 followers
March 4, 2016
3,5 Sterne.

3,5 Sterne

The Fine Art of Pretending war die typische "Protagonistin verliebt sich in besten Freund" Geschichte. So ganz mit der Phase des Leugnens und der Ungläubigkeit im Laufe der Geschichte. Hier ist das sogar noch ein wenig extremer, weil die Grenzen dadurch, dass die beiden so tun, als seien sie zusammen, etwas verschwimmen. Auch die Charaktere sind nicht unbedingt das, was man außergewöhnlich nennen könnte, daher ist es kein Wunder, dass der Roman einige Klischees bedient hat.
Trotzdem habe ich die Geschichte gern gelesen. Gerade die Reaktionen der Freunde haben mir richtig gut gefallen und auch die Nebencharaktere waren tolle. Insgesamt ist es einfach eine sehr süße Liebesgeschichte, die ich gerne gelesen habe. Wer Klischees in Contemporary Romanen nicht gerne sieht, der wird hier nicht glücklich werden, aber jeder, der nach einer süßen Liebesgeschichte für zwischendurch sucht, dem kann ich The Fine Art of Pretending nur empfehlen.
Profile Image for Roobie.
670 reviews88 followers
September 12, 2018
⭐️3.5 stars⭐️

If I don't tell her how I feel, we'll stay friends. I can handle that. Friendship is real. It lasts, and it's safe.

Well that was adorable. I wanted to throw some slaps a few times but I can't really resist friends to lovers stories so I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

Thank you to Netgalley for a copy of this book

Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews837 followers
November 6, 2014
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris
Book One of The Fine Art of Pretending series
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Official Summary:

According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you're friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.

What I Liked:

This book was super cute. I was thrown at first because I didn't realize that this one is set in high school, but that's cool. There are alternating first-person perspectives - for Aly and Brandon. That also threw me, because when Brandon's narrative rolled around, I was like, why is Aly talking about herself in third person?! Silly Alyssa...

This is Rachel's "Alyssa" book, following the story of Alyssa - Aly. Aly is doing a little experiment, in which she changes how she dresses and wears makeup and basically does a 180 in terms of her current look. She wants to catch the males' attention at her school. She doesn't want to be labeled a "commitment" girl, but a "casual" girl. She's been in love with Brandon for like, forever, but she's going after Justin, the school's biggest player. But when she and Brandon pretend to hook up, things change between them, even if they're aren't actually "together"...

Like I said before, this book is super cute. On the surface, it's an adorable read, and I enjoyed the fluffy ride. It's contemporary, it's romance, but it's not NEW ADULT romance, so don't get confused. The chemistry between Brandon and Aly is barely PG-13 - it might even be PG. Or maybe G. Like I was expecting MUCH steamier scenes. But that's okay. Light and fluffy it is.

I totally feel for Aly, because like Aly, I've fallen for my best friend. The difference is, I haven't known him for years on end, and I'm pretty sure I feel much deeper for this guy than Aly feels for Brandon. But I totally feel for her. She does all of this crazy stuff to get males' attentions in general, and I understand that. It's like, do they not notice?! I haven't done anything as drastic as Aly... should I? Ha!

Rachel totally had me going, especially after the "break-up" between Aly and Brandon. Aly actually achieves her goal - Justin asks her out. But Aly finds that she isn't really happy with Justin. I was so worried that Aly would fall in love with Justin and things would just be so weird. But Aly doesn't like Justin like that.

So I'm happy with how the romance - and the end of the book - turned out. This book is heavily romance-driven, so the romance was really all there was to it. This book is so short, so you'd read it in no time. I liked it! On a surface level. Like, a fun read.

What I Did Not Like:

A couple of complaints/negatives. One - why is this book being pegged as "New Adult"? I'm not sure if this is the author's doing or the publisher's doing or the media's doing or a combination of any of those. But it's wrong. This book is set in HIGH SCHOOL, senior year to be exact. There is not explicit content, no mature themes, nothing of the sort. They're in HIGH SCHOOL. Nothing traumatic or life-changing appears in this book. Everything that makes New Adult "New Adult"... isn't in this book. This is a very Young Adult book.

This book is sooooo romance-driven, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I wanted more from the story, the characters, overarching plot. I honestly didn't think Aly changed that much from beginning to end, and neither did Brandon. This book had a very 2-D quality, honestly. There wasn't much depth, and the romance was everything. Which could be a good thing, but I definitely wanted more depth to the story.

Would I Recommend It:

This is tricky. It's a fun, light read, but it's definitely nothing unique or spectacular or deep or amazing. Like, the story isn't all that AWESOME, you know? So, yes, I would recommend it if you like fluffy reads. But if you're like me, then meh, you don't have to read this one. Your life won't be empty without reading this one. I love Rachel, so I knew I would read this one at some point. If it wasn't for her, then meh.


3.5 stars -> rounded up to four stars. It was pretty good! 3.5 stars though.
Profile Image for Didi.
865 reviews289 followers
February 6, 2015

I love friends to lovers stories, whether it be an adult or YA version. This is being touted as NA...not likely. The characters in this book were 17, in their last year of high school, and quite innocent. Well, the heroine at least. There was physicality in the form of kisses and make out sessions, and although other people were having sex, our main characters weren't. The drama, over-angst and adult situations found in NA were obviously non-existent so if you're thinking of reading this, remember it's YA.

This was very sweet and sometimes angsty, but in a minor way. Alyssa has been friends with Brandon for years, best friends for the last three. She's a nice, smart and cute girl, but always passed over for the sexy and seductive types. She finally decides she's had enough, time to sex up her looks and grab the attention of the most popular guy in school. She wants to be seen as desirable and squash her boring reputation. Enlisting her best friend, Brandon who also happens to be extremely popular in school and with the ladies, they devise a plan to "pretend" they're dating. After all, being on the arm of one of the hottest guys in school could only help her, right?

Can you guess what happens?

I bet you did! Pretend soon becomes reality and the lines between friendship and MORE become blurred. Watching Aly( Alyssa ) temper down her attraction to Brandon was affecting. She'd had a crush on him in the past but convincing herself that he's just a friend was heartbreaking. But it was Brandon who stole the cake in that matter. The boy lived in denial, bathed in it. Everyone around him could see his true feelings but his past mixed with a promise he made to himself just wouldn't allow him to see Aly as more. There were many scenes where you could feel his anguish and suffering jump off the pages. I felt so bad for him but also frustrated because of the utter stupidity and fruitlessness of his actions. The book was sweet and moved along in the first half, but it was the last 50% that bumped up my rating. The feelings and emotions between Aly and Brandon became a live wire and watching them somehow tread through it all completely disarmed me.

I loved the way everything ended, the words Brandon said to Aly, very swoon-worthy! This was a great and realistic portrayal of all the craziness of high school, from the catty girls, to the parties, first love and such intensity of emotion. It was funny that some of these characters saw high school as being the best time of their lives! All I thought was, oh man, if at 17/18, you've reached your peak of good times then you're done for! Just kidding, but really, it's after high school that your life really starts. Be it college, university or just life, that's when things really happen. Maybe because I'm in Canada? Is it different in the U.S?
Anyways, this was a cute, fluffy and sweet story about finally seeing the truth behind your feelings and not being afraid to risk it all for love.
Profile Image for Sophia.
269 reviews2,033 followers
March 14, 2016
aw jeez. this book started out, legitimately, as a 1 star book. but it got better! (a little)
here's the realio dealio: this book reads like kind of bad fanfiction. it's addicting and entertaining and frustrating, but also poorly written and chock full of stereotypes and shallow characters.
on the bright side, i thought alyssa's two best friends were excellent friends. they started off very one-dimensional, but by the end, i thought they were the highlight of the book.
Profile Image for Allison.
396 reviews79 followers
September 7, 2017
This book really peeved me. Is that a word? "Peeved?" Oh well, I'm using it. My main issue with it was that it didn't do a very good job of delivering its message. AT ALL.

Honestly, we've all read this book or seen this movie before. The mousy, tomboy wants boys to start paying her attention so she has a makeover and changes everything about herself to get attention. The platonic, male best friend agrees to be her pretend boyfriend in order to further the charade. They fall in love.

The problem with this novel is not that it's cliche and been done before- I have no issue with this at all- it's that the book delivers the message that this works. If you change everything about yourself, then boys will like you, that most popular guy in school who is generally considered a giant dick will turn out to be the nicest, most romantic guy ever AND like you! Then, if you've changed everything about yourself, your super hot best friend will see you in a completely different light and you will realize you're in love with him too and not the super hot, popular, former womanizer you thought you liked.

The book even flat out states that the only reason Brandon started to look at Aly in a romantic way is because she started dressing "more like a girl." (Because girls have to dress and act a certain way to be taken seriously as girls- amiright?! I'm not even going to touch that misogyny.)

It seemed like about 80% through the book, the author realized that she may not have been delivering the message she meant to and started to backtrack. Now Brandon had liked Aly all along, blah, blah, blah. Just be yourself, blah, blah, blah, but a slightly better version of yourself!

If I had a young daughter, I would not allow her to read this book. The message is confusing. Be yourself, but better? At the end of the book, Aly realizes that she should be who she was before, but a slightly more feminine version. Because that's always better right? Men never ever like tomboys! Aly decides it's okay to be the "cute, funny friend." F that noise! The "cute, funny friend?" Are you serious? What a great message that sends for her to see herself like that at the end! I guess she likes herself a little, that's enough right?

I'm kind of digressing into a rant now, but this really made me angry. There are almost 7 billion people in the world. There's someone for everyone! Young women do not need to read a book that encourages them to wear more makeup, shorter skirts, etc- just be yourself! Someone great will like you. It was really disheartening when Aly began her transformation and literally everyone else in the book responded so positively. Now she's worthy of their time.

I had countless other complaints, but I'll just briefly touch on the biggest two:

1. The author seems EXTREMELY out of touch. It's like she's trying to be a "cool mom." She's totally hip and down and knows the lingo. The characters are constantly saying things like "he's my hookup." It was entirely cringe worthy. I mean, I'm kind of old, but I'm pretty sure teenagers don't talk like that.

But let's say that kids really do talk like this. The inauthentic way the word choices come across isn't the only issue. The other problem is that I could never quite figure out what the kids meant by "hookup." No one in this book seems to be having sex. They kiss some, but it's tame. In general, it seems like if someone is your "hookup" they are your significant other. However the characters seem to make some distinction between "hookup" and boy/girlfriend. I never could quite figure out what exactly the difference was! Maybe I'm the uncool one?

2. The high school mascot is the "hokie." This has haunted me. I can't stop thinking about this. Maybe it's just because we're a Virginia Tech family, but this killed me. The "hokie" is a made up thing. When Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College changed its name to Virginia Polytechnic Institute they had a contest to see who could create the best cheer. The cheer that won had the word "hokie" in it. This became the nickname for sports teams at VT. The word is literally the product of some student's imagination and has no meaning. It belongs to Virginia Tech. SOME HIGH SCHOOL IN TEXAS CAN'T JUST TAKE IT! It's not like an eagle or a tiger. The hokie can't exist outside of its VT context because it doesn't mean anything. It only means something to Virginia Tech.

So that's that. I had high hopes for this novel and it failed to meet them.

This review is also posted to my blog: Crazy Something Maybe
Profile Image for Elise ✘ a.k.a Ryder's Pet ✘.
1,314 reviews2,782 followers
May 11, 2017
"You can’t break up what was never together. But my heart didn’t get that memo."

"Loving someone, being loved...It’s worth the pain of losing them."

Oh wow, I just have to words for this book: plain adorable!
I actually liked it more than I thought I would. Though it's not the best I've read, it was still worth the time it took to read it and I liked the characters :)
"The cute and funny girl who's just friends with all the popular guys is gone."

Rate: 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
2,991 reviews363 followers
September 30, 2014
4.5 Stars
I knew from the moment I opened the first page and read it that Aly and I were going to be great friends. I love when a first chapter, a first page, can capture me right away and I feel that instant connection with a character. It is so rare when it happens, which makes it all the better and memorable when it does.

I wasn't wrong about that first page either. As Aly's tale unfolded I grew to love her and Brandon more and more. There is just something that is so hard for me to resist when it comes to a sweet slow burning friends to lovers story. In fact, I CAN'T resist them and seldom even try.

Throw in Harris' ability to draw a person in with her incredible writing abilities and you have a story that I completely was wrapped up in and didn't want to end.

This was such a heartwarming adorable read. This book will be one of my favorites of the year simply because it made me smile and even get teary eyed while reading it and lately, it has taken a lot for me to do that, especially in this genre. For me to be able to walk away with this one a happier, more relaxed person, with a warm fuzzy feeling inside should be enough for anyone to pick this up too.

Simply put, this was stinkin' adorable and I loved every minute of it and can't wait for the next book to be out.

Profile Image for Melissa West.
Author 16 books1,223 followers
March 13, 2014
Okay, so officially this is what I said about this amazing book:
Prepare your heartstrings, THE FINE ART OF PRETENDING will make you laugh, cry, and swoon in the best possible ways! My favorite contemporary of the year!

But this book is so much more than those two sentences. I don't want to give too much away, but do you know those romantic comedies that you love so much that you watch them EVERY SINGLE TIME they come on TV? The ones that make you smile from beginning to end? The ones that remind you why life and love are so amazing?

Yeah, this book is one of those movies. I absolutely loved it.

From Aly's identity issues to Brandon's inability to admit his feelings--even to himself--this book takes you right back to high school, to the days when each moment felt so important. You will feel ALL THE FEELS while reading this book, and then you will reach the last page and wish you could start it all over again. LOVE!
Profile Image for Louisa.
497 reviews364 followers
January 12, 2015
Because girls can only attract boys' attention by dressing more scantily and "femininely"... and boys will only notice you as a girl if you do so (or at least give you a chance if you're a "Casual" and not a "Commitment"). No thanks.

I appreciate the turn the book took in the last quarter, but it felt like the author realised just how disastrous a message she was sending with the rest of the story and decided to try to salvage it. Nope, didn't work.
Profile Image for Cassie Mae.
Author 40 books1,051 followers
Want to read
May 3, 2014
September???? Give me now!
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,379 reviews233 followers
December 27, 2019
It's a known fact that I am trash for friends-to-more romances, and I was delighted with the way Harris used that trope in THE FINE ART OF PRETENDING.

Aly was a cute and sporty young woman, who wanted to be noticed and wanted to be, well, wanted. She hoped that she would finally have a "real" date for the annual homecoming dance. No more friend-dates. No more pity-dates. Her goal was to attract a guy via her Operation Sex Appeal make-over, but when she threw in some fake dating, things got complicated.

Having been the short, cute girl, I could really relate to Aly. Always being "the friend", never being the one the boys were climbing over each other to date. It makes you feel less than, and I really felt that come through, when I was in Aly's head. I can't say I thought her plan was an amazing one, though, I think teen me tried the same exact thing. I appreciated her struggle and felt it was an important learning experience for her. Maybe the tight, revealing clothing didn't yield the results she was seeking, but they did embolden her a bit, and that, along with Brandon as her fake-hookup, kicked the confidence that she always had into high gear. I liked the focus on the inside versus the outside, and that Brandon also shared this view was a bonus.

Speaking of Brandon. His fear of losing people kept him from enjoying a full-on romantic relationship. He was, however, an wonderful friend to Aly. They had great chemistry and a wonderful rapport, and it was easy to see they shared a special bond, but, yeah, I definitely wanted to see that move to the next level, because they were tailor made for one another.

The book also had many of the elements I love to see: a great female friendship, male characters sharing their feelings, and a solid family with great sibling bonds. All these things was wrapped up in a super cute romance, which was light, fluffy, swoony, and sweet.

Profile Image for marie ♡⁎⁺˳✧.
212 reviews75 followers
May 27, 2020
2nd read: 01/11/2020

Before I start this review, let me just say that I have “book amnesia”. I can barely remember books I read years ago even when I absolutely loved it. Honestly, what leaves a lasting impression on me is not the plot but the way a book made me feel.

The Fine Art of Pretending was one of the books that had the honor to be included in my favorites (stand-alone) shelf but I couldn’t even remember any of it. All I know is that it was sweet and fluffy and I absolutely loved it. So despite reading this five years ago, it still felt like the first time.

I read The Fine Art of Pretending back when I wasn’t a critical reader so I was afraid that I wouldn’t feel the same way. Fortunately, even after all these years, it was as good as I remembered.

I guess one of the reasons why I loved this book is how I can relate to Aly. I also went through this phase. When I was young, I was a very awkward and shy kid. I didn’t have confidence and I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. But books happened and the characters I read made me realize that I can try to change for the better. I read tips about fashion, socializing, and everything. Haha. Slowly, I started to love myself and I can say that I like who I am now. Although Aly initially did it to get noticed, I liked how in the end, she realized that she should do it for herself.

If you’re trash for sweet and fluffy contemporary romance like me — especially of the friends to lovers variety— I’m pretty sure you would love this. It was so cute that it had me rolling in my bed at 5 am. I really loved Brandon even though I wanted to smack his head sometimes. I also liked Justin but I didn’t feel too sorry for him because I already read his book. He definitely deserved a happy ever after too.

“I didn't mean to fall for her, but I did. And in my fear of losing her, I did just that.”

There’s a big chance I’ll be reading this again in the next five years. I’m really glad I can never remember the books I read if enough time has passed. It always makes re-reading them a new experience.

Review can also be found on my blog.

Find me: Blog | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Spotify

─── ・ 。゚☆: *.☽ .* :☆゚. ───

1st read: 02/20/2015

All throughout the book I was like,


And when they finally went from denial to acceptance,

February 15, 2015
There is nothing worse than wasted potential. No, seriously.

Such an interesting concept!
A girl who prefers baggy clothes wants to reinvent herself and become the next 'It-Girl' of her high school. She takes the help of her best friend, Brandon, who she ropes in to take the place as her pretend boyfriend, to snag the ultimate goal: The hottest boy in school, Justin. But then feelings butt in and what was a purely platonic friendship turns into something more

Its so cool. But unfortunately, the execution of the idea wasn't done really well.

I wanted some true friendship, self realisation and that you don't need to be slutty to be fun. But you know what I got? A perfect, unconfident girl who dresses up in ass baring shorts and tight tank tops to be noticed. And apparently, the guys of the school made a list of all girls in the school and divided them into Casuals and Commitments. As insinuated, the Casuals are the girls you use and throw away, while the Commitments are the girls who are worth the wooing and all that crap.

First, I cannot even begin to start about how sexist and demeaning this is. So, what? All the girls in the Casuals aren't the kind who deserve love just because they enjoy non-committal, no strings attached sex?

Second, obviously, our dear Aly belongs to the Commitment category and is not okay with it. She thinks that being in that category automatically labels you as a prude. No. No it doesn't. So she tries to fake her into the Casuals category, like its the magical solution to completing her high school experience.

And lets not forget the constant slut shaming of a stereotypical popular girl, Lauren, whose main motive in life is to (apparently) ruin Aly's. Miss Harris could have made Lauren a little more realistic by giving her an actual, legit motive, or hell, something.

Its hinted at the end that Lauren is actually really business savvy and is quite smart, but this is mainly used as a half-hearted attempt to show that Lauren's character is mysterious. Oh, she is mysterious, alright. Mysterious enough to keep you wondering what the heck is her whole purpose in this book? All she did was strut in high heels, tiny skirts and attempt to flirt with Brandon.

Speaking of Brandon, he was so...not there. This book is in dual POV, so one might think that there is some great backstories and important tidbits of information that might come in handy later into the book. False. He is almost personality less and does little except be jealous of a million people for being nice to Aly *shakes head*

Not truly bad, but not great either.
Profile Image for Donna.
1,045 reviews559 followers
October 20, 2014
Super cute and adorable, The Fine Art of Pretending is a read that will capture your heart and leave you wanting more from Rachel Harris.

Alyssa ‘Aly’ Reed has always been the friend to all the guys at Fairfield Academy. She’s never the one who is asked out on dates or has the boys swooning over her and she believes that’s down to her tom boy style. She loves sports, she’s competitive and she never wears make up. But that’s about to change. Aly is determined that for her senior year that she will be the girl all the boys want by changing her style from tomboy to girly and she’s set her sights on the hottest guy at school, Justin. The problem is Aly believes she needs to be noticed and this is where her best friend, Brandon Taylor comes in when she convinces him to be her pretend boyfriend. But, as her and Brandon start their fake relationship it soon becomes harder to work out what’s real or not.

This was the first book I’ve read by author Rachel Harris and I can now officially say I want more from her. It’s impossible not to see her other work around, so it’s definitely something I’m going to be checking out while I wait for more from the The Fine Art of Pretending series.

The Fine Art of Pretending was just the type of read I was looking for. I was reading a New Adult story and wasn’t really in the mood so I’m glad I had this book ready and waiting for me because it really was a fantastic read! I loved how the story was so realistic to so many teenagers nowadays because of how many teenagers try to change who they are to fit in better or in this case to stand out more. The deeper message of the story is, you are who you are, don’t change yourself unless it makes you happy.

The characters of the story are just great. Aly and Brandon have such a deep connection that you can’t help root from them from the start. Even though they have their up’s and down’s during the story, I could completely sympathize with both of them. With Aly making the biggest change and going through a lot to finally discover who she is, I felt a deeper connection to her. But with Brandon’s point of view come different issues and for that I loved him too.

In all, The Fine Art of Pretending is a lovable YA contemporary read that will have you swooning all the way through. Very enjoyable and simply a fantastic summer read!

Thank you to Spencer Hill Contemporary for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Ornella.
1,146 reviews82 followers
October 7, 2014
I was ready to adore this book and be a gushy mess by the end. Instead I was just proud of myself for finishing it cause I've been in a slump and this wasn't as good as I wanted it to be.

My main problem comes in the form of me not being to relate to like anything in this book.
"Gabi’s comfortable being on her own—a concept that boggles my mind."

I mind boggled too. Throughout the whole damn book. I didn't understand her NEED to have a guy. Even at the end, yes she gets over the makeover thing, but I really don't think she would have been happy with herself if she didn't have Brandon and that's just....I don't get it.

I also don't get Brandon's complete inability to be in close proximity to his best friend without turning into a mess of raging hormones and therefore acting like an idiot. I also didn't get his reasoning behind not wanting a relationship.

See, I get that his dad died and it seriously messed up his mother because they were in love, but he kept saying that all relationships end, and I'm just like....Well, you know, EVERYTHING ends, so, what's your point? If you mean you don't want to deal with loss, okay, but equating his dad's death to his parent's relationship ending, as if it was voluntary and assholish on one of their parts makes absolutely no sense.

Then there is the man-cave attitude and I'm just...ugh. This book was saved thanks to the few cute parts of Brandon and Aly's friendship, Justin, Gabi and the sisters. But the whole rest of it was eh.

On a side note, I don't like the word hookup cause it just sounds so crude and I couldn't equate that to these kids, and the word was used A LOT, but that's just my own issue xD
Profile Image for Reign.
175 reviews28 followers
October 21, 2016
3.5 stars

The heroine decided a makeover to make her notice guys? Her male bestfriend noticed and agreed to pretend that they're couple as part of her 'Operation Sex Appeal'? They enjoy the pretend and it eventually made the guy confused because he vowed never to fall in love? They decided to end the pretend before it gets worse and the girl moves on to the most popular guy (the bestfriend is only the second hottest) in her school? They girl misses the boy until eventually they get back together? Check for all of the above. Cliches everywhere. There were few scenes that tugged my heart but more than that, I was really surprised I finished this one. But oh well, this was my company through a strong typhoon that made me forget worrying so that must be something.
Profile Image for Yoda.
569 reviews110 followers
December 27, 2019
My guilty pleasure when I´m in a book slump are easy, entertaining, fluffy YA. The kind of books I don´t actually expect to love and I usually forget them seconds after reading. I read it two days ago and for the life of me I cannot tell you the names of the main characters. But that is why I love it!
Profile Image for Cindi.
Author 50 books2,172 followers
May 25, 2014
Great YA story about figuring out who you are, with lots of laughs & swoony moments along the way. This book gave me all the feels & at the end of it, I was left with a giant smile on my face.
Profile Image for Debby.
583 reviews540 followers
April 17, 2021
4 stars

The Fine Art of Pretending was one of the top books on my wishlist for BEA, because with that spectacular premise which contained so many of the things I absolutely love in a contemporary romance and that adorable cover, I knew it would be the right kind of fluffy for me. And I was not disappointed.

The Fine Art of Pretending was for me one of those books that just found me at exactly the right time. For all its entertainment value, this book does not carry a majorly significant meaningful message. But Aly struggles with something that I've had issues with in high school and even more recently: this idea of girls being classified as Casuals or Commitments. She's a clear Commitment but tries to recreate her image into a Casual because that's what guys want. That's practically all they're looking for. And Aly is just tired of being ignored and passed over. This is something I just so get. It was less so the case in high school for me (because those who were more "casual" tended to hide it at my school), but nowadays, in the midst of European college "party" culture, it's something I do struggle with. Though I don't judge others for the choices they make, I'm definitely a Commitment - and guys see that and write me off the very second they meet me. I sense that immediately, and every single time it stings like hell.

So obviously, in that sense, I immediately found a kindred spirit in Aly. I found her struggle very relatable, though others could say it's pretty much a non-issue, and she didn't have much to complain about. Constantly being alone and ignored is grating, and that made the themes and message of this novel stay with me for weeks afterwards. It's what will have me picking this book up again and again - because I like that romantic reminder of the fact that you should be true to who you are and at some point you'll meet someone who appreciates you for that. It just hit the right hopeless romantic notes for me, and that makes me want to hug it fiercely to my chest.

For others, though, Aly might appear quite young and naive. Akin to a Disney Channel movie, she goes through a makeover and makes poor choices to force herself to be something she's not - and for some bizarre reason decides that she'll have succeeded if Justin, a popular hottie and player, asks her to Homecoming. The reasoning is not the most sound, and you know from the start that it's a terrible idea. Justin is kind of a douche anyway, so why would you want that? Though it's entertaining, and certainly made me chuckle, it's not a story you should think too long on, because in reality this challenge she sets for herself is very shallow.

But the romance is exactly the kind of fluffy, light entertainment I needed. Brandon and Aly were friends for years (yay, best friend romance!), but when Aly undergoes her transformation, she recruits him to pretend to be her "casual" boyfriend (yay, fake dating!). My two favorite tropes collided, so basically, I was having the time of my life. I was a tiny bit disappointed though that the romance never got that spicy physically. The fake dating trope obviously opens the door to all these PDA's they could do to prove themselves to others while later realizing that they might actually have meant something - but that didn't really work out that way in The Fine Art of Pretending. Their fake relationship was extremely tame, and they seemed to spend more time talking about it than proving it to others, so I didn't feel the kind of fire I was expecting. It wasn't like, say, Faking It - spicy and full of swoons, though I recognize that that's New Adult.

Be that as it may, the relationship was clearly heartfelt and sweet, so I was enthralled by it anyway - it just won't be one of my top ships of all time. Most of the development comes from their internal struggles with their feelings. In particular, I appreciated reading from Brandon's point of view, because whereas Aly has had a crush on him in the past, he's the one who has blindly been restraining himself into thinking she's completely off limits. He was sweet and wonderful, but he also managed to show how deep the chemistry they had went, which put my heart a-flutter. There were some flails and squeals, make no mistake.

Summing Up:

This book really got to me in a way that I didn't expect it would! The themes of this Casual vs. Commitment classification and the message to stay true to yourself really touched my heart - even if this isn't the deepest book of all time. The romance was really sweet, and though I could have used some more spice, I was cheering for the couple anyway. I could totally see myself rereading this on a rainy day - it's the perfect book to lift the spirits of a hopeless romantic.

GIF it to me straight!

Recommended To:

Fans of On the Fence, The Art of Lainey, and other books with the best friend romance / fake dating tropes.

*ARC received at BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the contents of the review.
Profile Image for Jessica *The Lovely Books*.
1,213 reviews617 followers
September 30, 2014
"The cute and funny girl who's just friends with all the popular guys is gone."

What can I say about The Fine Art of Pretending? Oh, just that it's the single, most cutest story ever. To say I've been waiting to read this would be a HUGE understatement. I remember when I first realized the book wouldn't be coming out for months. MONTHS! I was crushed. Then I started stalking...no that word's too scary...um, I started following all of Rachel's pages just to see when the ARCs would be going out. I even emailed her publisher. That's how much I wanted it.

Alas, I finally got my greedy little hands on a copy and the rest is history. As soon as I dove into the book? Oh, I just knew I was going to love it. Aly is the type of character I love to read about. The only fault I would say I had a bit of a problem with, was her need to change herself so that boys could like her. That's basically the whole gist of the story.

"Basically, we sorted the girls in our class into two groups: the Casuals and the Commitments."

Can you take a wild guess which one Alyssa is?

She starts what's called "Operation Sex Appeal" and it definitely gets her noticed by all the people she wants to notice her. Particularly, Justin, one of the hottest guys at her school, not to mention a big playboy. She just knows that once she is able to get him to ask her to homecoming, she'll be seen as more than just the girl that wants more in a relationship.

"If I want to get out of the perpetual friend zone and experience how the other half lives, I'm going to need a total life overhaul."

Other than Aly's insecurities, I really enjoyed her character. After all, we were all teenagers once (or still one) and we tended to act dramatic in that way as well. At least I did. I believe in the end Aly learned her lesson about one's self worth. This goes for girl's of all ages too. You DO NOT need a man for approval. The only approval you need is the one buried deep inside yourself. Confidence is key and there is nothing more beautiful than a girl who sees herself as beautiful. Easier said than done right?

"If I want the male species to finally find me dateable, I have to do something drastic."

That's the message I took from reading TFAoP. Along with that message, I had loads of fun on this journey with both Brandon and Aly. I loved the tension between the two and I adore the fact that they're best friends. Best friend stories won't ever grow old in my book.

"I've spent years watching the two of you pretend you weren't hot for each other. So go for it already." -Gabi, a best friend of Aly.

Enter Brandon, the best friend.He's one of the guy's Aly confessed her love to once upon a time...only to be told that they're better off as friends. Ouch. But Aly was a team player and instead, both her and Brandon were able to remain close. Even if it wasn't the way she wanted it to be. He's also the candidate to be her boyfriend; all pretend of course! Can the two make it as pretend? And what exactly is the definition of pretend anyway? Are two friend of the opposite sex really able to remain friends without feelings getting in the way? Or more importantly, pretending to be more when deep down inside that's all you really want?

"Guys and girls can't be friends. The sex part always gets in the way."

The romance was adorable and I enjoyed being able to see two lovestruck teenagers fall in love without really realizing they were doing so. Then when they did realize it, they pretty much just put it on the back burner. Communication people! That's all it takes is for you to open your mouth. It would be so much more easier.

"I learned what love really does-it leads to misery. Friendships last. Relationships end."

Honorable mentions would pretty much be all the secondary characters. One in particular surprised me very much and I found myself rooting for him. I'm hoping he is the one who gets his own book!!

If you're looking for a light hearted story thats full of love and a great message, this is the book for you. It's romantic and has you falling in love all over the place!

"I'm just no good without you, Aly."
Profile Image for Christine Alibutud.
497 reviews84 followers
January 17, 2015
"You can’t break up what was never together. But my heart didn’t get that memo."


I've been delaying this book for almost two months now, and I made no plans on reading it, especially because I forgot to put it in mind. Fortunately, my friend persuaded me to read this one since she found it absolutely sweet and swoon-worthy. Thus, I decided to try it and I must say: what a cute and quick read by Rachel Harris! I'm not a newbie with these kinds of concepts and stories, but I don't know why I still can't get tired of it. I really enjoyed this book, although not enough to give it 5 stars, but it was still nice nonetheless.
"I was so scared that admitting it would ruin everything. That I’d scare you away or lose your friendship, and you’re too important to let that happen."

I've always been a fan of bestfriends-turned-lovers, and I guess I'll always will be. I find a relationship that was based and founded on a good friendship a very stable one. Of course, Aly and Brandon made sure to give me that swoon-ified feeling! I don't exactly have a guy bestfriend I'm secretly in love with, but I somehow know the feeling of what it's like to not have the courage to say what you really feel about someone. It's just nice to relate, even with a fictional character.


Also, I think I have found my life-long mantra in this book:
"When in doubt, pig out. That’s my motto."

This one is definitely perfect if you just want a light read with not too much drama! Super sweet and enough to give me good vibes! Can't wait for the next installment!

3.5/4 stars!
"Loving someone, being loved...It’s worth the pain of losing them."

Displaying 1 - 30 of 692 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.