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When It's Real

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Wealth, fame and a real-life romance she never expected—seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett lands it all when she agrees to become a pop star's fake girlfriend in this smart, utterly addictive novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author duo Erin Watt  

Under ordinary circumstances, Oakley Ford and Vaughn Bennett would never even cross paths. 

There's nothing ordinary about Oakley. This bad-boy pop star's got Grammy Awards, millions of fangirls and a reputation as a restless, too-charming troublemaker. But with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley needs to show the world he's settling down—and who better to help him than Vaughn, a part-time waitress trying to help her family get by? The very definition of ordinary

Posing as his girlfriend, Vaughn will overhaul Oakley's image from troublemaker to serious artist. In return for enough money to put her brothers through college, she can endure outlandish Hollywood parties and carefully orchestrated Twitter exchanges. She'll fool the paparazzi and the groupies. She might even start fooling herself a little. 

Because when ordinary rules no longer apply, there's no telling what your heart will do…

413 pages, Hardcover

First published May 30, 2017

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Erin Watt

27 books11k followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,977 reviews
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,440 reviews78.1k followers
May 17, 2017
I consistently struggle with writing reviews for contemporaries, whether they are adult or young adult. Over the years they have grown predictable and there isn’t much to talk about regarding the plot as they tend to be more character focused. Needless to say, I’m wary in picking up contemporaries anymore because they just seem to fall into the realm of “nice but not memorable”. When I first saw the cover and description of When It's Real, I’ll admit I was skeptical but gave it a second glance as the author duo is so popular from their successful Royals series. I kept going back and checking out the cover and description which made me realize I had to read it. This sat on my light and fluffy shelf for a couple of months, because I so wanted to love this but I also had to wait for the mood to strike me. I’m really glad I waited, because I picked this up at an opportune time and it heightened my experience like no other.

I’ll admit I have yet to pick up Paper Princess but might have to move it up my list after having such a positive experience with WIR. I’ve heard that the Royals books are darker romance and have been found very controversial amongst various readers (that alone makes me want to read them!), so I was surprised when they released such an upbeat story. Sure, there are some serious themes and darker moments to the story, but I found WIR to be the perfect book for the reader who likes an overall feel good, happily ever after type of story. I don’t want to touch on the plot too much, but I was highly intrigued by Oakley and Vaughn from the beginning; in fact, I was so distracted by their drama that I read the entire almost 400 pages in a single sitting. This is what happens when you have really thick hair that is high maintenance.

Overall, this was such a fun read. I’d call it a guilty pleasure, but I don’t think I should have to justify if a read is worthy based on how pretentious it’s deemed to be by high brow readers. I love cheesy, heartfelt love stories that are messy; if you are a fan of Colleen Hoover, you will likely love this as it has a YA CoHo feel too it. Perfect to snag for summer poolside days or a week at the beach; if you enjoy a love story that takes a new spin on a classic tale, I highly recommend picking up a copy of When It's Real to add to your summer shelves. You can do like I did and ogle the beautiful cover until you’re ready to read it. 🙂

*Many thanks to Harlequin Teen for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to post my honest thoughts here on the blog.


Yay! Time for a guilty pleasure for review. I'm not even ashamed that I'm expecting to devour this like a box of Krispy Kremes with the hot light on.


Surprise! Just received an unexpected review copy of this in the mail- please don't suck because I'm totally crushing on this cover.

*delicately tosses into the light and fluffy stack*
Profile Image for Christy.
3,818 reviews32.4k followers
July 10, 2020
3.5 stars

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When I first read the writing duo known as Erin Watt, I was so impressed I knew I'd pick up whatever they decided to write. When I heard they were writing YA and saw the gorgeous cover for When It's Real, it went straight to the top of my TBR. This book had a little bit for all readers. Love a good YA? Rock star read? Enemies to friends to lovers? Fake girlfriend/boyfriend? How about the famous leading man/average heroine? This book had all that and more. 

Oakley 'Oak' Ford is your average teen star. He became a huge hit when he was young, and now that he's an adult (barley) he wants to change his sound. He wants to be taken more seriously. The only way that is going to happen is if he shows he's serious. One way to do that? Date a nice, average girl. At least that's what his management team says. Oak is willing to do just about anything to work with the producer of his dreams so he's game. 

Vaughn is not the type to date a famous guy. In fact, she's already got a boyfriend.... but when the opportunity to date Oak falls in her lap, she can't pass it up. It's too good to be true. Vaughn isn't shallow, but after her parents died years ago, her family needs the money. Vaughn and Oak butt heads at first. Their dynamic is a little... er... rocky. I loved seeing them banter and watching the sexual tension build between them. 
“Half the time when you open your mouth, you say something that makes me want to punch you.” Vaughn gives a rueful smile. “But when you sing…you make it really hard to hate you.”

Oakley is one of those characters that really grew on me. I'm going to be honest, I didn't love him at first. But after some time, he completely won me over. I loved that he didn't want to settle in his career. He strives for more. And I really loved watching him fall for Vaughn. He didn't want to, but it happened. And it was beautiful. 

Vaughn was kind of the opposite for me. I loved her at the start, but there were moments later on I didn't care for the choices she made. She irked me... overall, I did like her as a character. She was real and I liked that she was willing to sacrifice for her family. 

When It's Real is not the same type of read as The Royal's series. It didn't have that angsty, addictive quality. It was, however a fun, fast, and easy read. If you're in the mood for a mature YA standalone that is the perfect blend of light and sweet, this is one I would recommend!
“You’re beautiful. Every day I’m with you is brighter and more exciting than the last.”

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Profile Image for Candace.
1,176 reviews4,216 followers
July 2, 2017
When I picked up 'When It's Real', I wanted something that was sweet and heartwarming. I loved 'Paper Princess' by Erin Watt, so when I started seeing this book pop up on friends' pages, I knew that I'd want to read it. I was not disappointed.

This book was everything that I had wanted. It was the kind of light and fluffy read that puts a smile on your face and leaves you feeling contented. Although it was predictable and not particularly original, it was still a highly entertaining read. After all, who doesn't love a modern-day, rags-to-riches love story?

The story centers on the "fake" romantic relationship between Vaughn Bennett and Oakley Ford. Essentially, their relationship is a publicity stunt concocted by Oakley's management team to revamp his bad-boy image. Oakley is a famous singer. Vaughn is the everyday, girl next door teenager.

While Oakley is accustomed to a life surrounded by admirers, he is lonely. He has no doubt that if the fame were to go, so would everyone that claims to care about him. All the booze, drugs and women that fill his time cannot fill the void within him.

Worst of all, Oakley has been in a rut. He hasn't written anything new in a while and everything is sounding the same to him. It's like he's lost his magic.

More than anything, he wants to work with a famous producer that is known for his ability to produce the best hits. However, Oakley's irresponsible shenanigans have gotten in the way. The producer doesn't believe that Oakley is a serious artist and is refusing to work with him until he proves himself.

Vaughn needs for their fake relationship to be as believable as Oakley does. Her family is depending on her. She knows that she will never be able to earn this type of money any other way and she desperately needs the money. Her "real" boyfriend will just have to understand.

Along the way there is plenty of humor, as Oakley and Vaughn banter back and forth. They kind of start off on the wrong foot and their relationship begins with a healthy rivalry. Of course, the more time these two spend together, the more they start to develop real feelings for one another.

There are a few bumps along the way, but nothing too surprising. It was pretty predictable, but a sweet and fun read. I listened to the Audible version and the narration was terrific as well. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone that is looking for a light-hearted, feel good type of love story. It is a standalone, so you won't be left hanging. Although, I wouldn't be surprised to see a spin-off featuring Oakley's bodyguard and Vaughn's sister. I'll be looking forward to reading that one also if it comes to light.

Check out more of my reviews at www.bookaddicthaven.com
Profile Image for Katerina.
422 reviews16.8k followers
May 13, 2017
Guilty pleasure (n.):
Something pleasurable that induces a usually minor feeling of guilt (probably because you should be doing some serious real-life stuff instead of getting lost in said pleasures).

There are two types of guilty pleasures.
The first ones refer to characters so royally twisted and messed up that the sensible part of yours keeps bothering you with nagging thoughts like "how could you love them?", while the other part enjoys this delightful addiction. And then there is the second kind, the one that in order to experience it properly, you go through an inviolable sacred ritual: you wear your fluffy (insert cute animal) pajamas and eat a bucket of ice-cream or something equally fattening and delicious (like cupcakes or cheesecake) while witnessing a wonderfully sweet and adorable love story that makes you wonder why this has never happened to you, shed a tear or two because life is so unfair and eventually you come to terms with reality and pick the cats that will probably be your only company for the rest of your life. And then eat more ice-cream.
And Erin Watt excels in both!

Boy (who happens to be an ultra-famous, rich and spoiled pop star) meets girl (who happens to be your typical, composed and definitely normal girl-next-door).
Boy thinks girl should drool over his hotness.
Girl thinks boy is a complete jerk.
They pretend they're a couple for the sake of press.
They are bent on keeping their relationship strictly business.
They fail miserably.

I know what you're going to say: you've read / watched this story before. I'm not gonna lie, I thought so too. And it took me some chapters to become truly invested inWhen It's Real. But one thing I know for sure when it comes to Erin Watt, is that this duo is a miracle-maker. No matter how absurb or far-fetched or unoriginal their stories might seem, they always manage to suck you in their world, to crawl beneath your skin and snatch a place in your heart. If you didn't like the Royals rejoice, because When It's Real couldn't be more different. And if you liked the Royals rejoice, because When It's Real is a bet Erin Watt won, with its quick pace and cuteness and the cloud of fluffiness that took you on a journey to LA!

Oakley and Vaughn's story was adorable. When It's Real contains the perfect blend of tenderness and affection to make your insides melt into goo, tension to set you on fire and witty banters, with a little angst and scandals to spice things up! Every single character is well-portrayed, and I loved the family moments and side-stories that interweave with the romantic element only to make it stronger. And since it's the show business we're talking about, the media involvement will keep you at the edge of your seat, and maybe awaken some violent tendencies. But despite the anger and the occasional pain, Erin Watt will tug at your heartstrings and fill you with joy and hope.
“Stop being afraid of life. Go out and let love take you on a journey.”

While there were many aspects of this novel I found endearing, the main reason my heart swelled with so many feelings was the powerful connection between Oakley and Vaughn. Oakley was not an easy character to love, he could be really self-centered and spoiled, blind by his egotism and his success, but you could see that deep down he was insecure and lonely, even though every single dream of his came true. And that's precisely what drew Vaughn. She was a lovable and prudent character, always trying to hide her feelings and do the best for her family, while she was searching for a purpose and a place to belong. She saw Oakley's good traits when all everyone else saw was his smoking body, his music and his fame. Oakley on the other hand saw her vulnerability beneath her tough and snarky exterior. He knew that she was good at pretending but not good at living, and he took it upon him to show her the world. What it feels like to be loved. To belong. But the question is, can something that started off as a publicity stunt but turned into something deep, meaningful and burning, survive in the celebrity world, where the vultures are lurking, waiting to tear them apart?
“This is as real and as awful and as wonderful as it gets. I'd hold her forever if she'd let me.”

Sparks fly in When It's Real, an easy, quick, fun and emotion-filled story that will make your toes curl! And the best way to enjoy it?

*ARC generously provided by Nina Bocci via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Profile Image for Patty ~ Wrapped Up In Reading Book Blog.
1,260 reviews9,964 followers
May 27, 2017
*****4.5 STARS*****
{ARC Generously Provided by Authors}

I don’t know when that happened, but somewhere along the line Vaughn went from the girl I was forced to have on my arm to the girl I want to have in my life.

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Erin Watt fans prepare to fall head over heels in love with their latest collaborative masterpiece! These two authors have struck gold again with WHEN IT’S REAL. I am not particularly a huge fan of YA but when it’s done right even I can’t deny how enjoyable these romances can be. This enemies to lovers story between America’s #1 Pop Idol and a regular girl with absolutely no ties to the celebrity world was pure unadulterated fun for this particular reader.

Oakley Ford is going through a rough patch in his life. It’s been two years since he’s released an album and his creative juices haven’t been flowing. Lately, he’s been indulging in liquor and women and his bad boy antics have been providing enough fodder for the sleazy tabloids. Oakley desperately wants to work with one of the industry’s most sought after producers but his current reputation makes him an undesirable prospect. His manager is forcing him to get his act together and to do away with his bad boy behavior. The plan is to romantically link Oak to a down to earth girl who doesn’t have ties to the industry. He sees a picture of one of his employee’s sister on her desk and decides this girl is the key to boosting Oak’s image again.

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Vaughn Bennett is a seventeen-year-old girl who was forced to grow up sooner than most teenagers when both of her parents were killed in a car accident. She graduated from High School a year early so that she could start working to help her older sister take care of their family which consists of their younger twin brothers, Vaughn, and her sister Paisley. When she is approached by Oakley’s management team with the proposal to become his girlfriend for a year and that it comes with a rather large salary, there is no way she can turn it down knowing that it would help to take care of her family.

Vaughn and Oakley’s first meeting is anything but cordial and neither make a really good first impression on each other. Oakley comes off as being narcissistic and condescending, while Vaughn seems to be headstrong and a bit of a spitfire. She actually intrigues Vaughn because for the first time he meets a girl who isn’t falling all over herself to be near him. While Vaughn thinks Oakley is a conceited jerk, she also used to have a huge crush on him and can’t seem to stop her stupid hormones from going haywire whenever he sings or gives her a smoldering look.

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While both Oak and Vaughn start to feel something more for each other, the tiny doubt in the back of their minds that what they have is still "fake” keeps them from taking the risk and confessing what is truly in their hearts. When they finally take the plunge and give in to their feelings for the first time in their lives they’re feeling what could possibly be true love but can these two make it work when there are countless of people who would rather see them fall apart?

WHEN IT’S REAL releases on May 30th! It’s a definite must-read!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lk9dlF
iBooks: http://apple.co/2mRrRCD
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2jyPHCs
B&N: http://bit.ly/2kaiFrq
Audible: http://adbl.co/2pTNOlc

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Want to read
June 23, 2017
Adding an update at the end of my non-review, non-rating rant :P


****I repeat this ISN'T A YOUNG ADULT BOOK. It contains sexual content*****
This is one more time another example of a new adult book that contains erotic elements and is marketed as young adult. I haven't read it yet, but I know the authors to be two very good erotica authors: Elle Kennedy and Jen Frederick.

Elle Kennedy's books

Jen Frederick's books

They call themselves Erin Watt and their debut novel was a book with content not suited for under 18 readers named Paper Princess. When they were self-published they had the decency to add a warning in their notes that their book contained erotic elements.

Now that they are published by Harlequin teen they aren't adding warnings anymore because IMHO big publishers have 0 ethics and they prefer to sell soft-core porn to children than advertise new adult properties as new adult books. Lately new adult books are advertised and marketed as Young adult books. Several of my friends have reported to me of kids as young as seven-years-old perusing through books like A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN or of 7th graders reading ACourtOfMistAndFury

Sites with parental guidances like Common sense media, several goodreads librarians and a prestigious site like Kirkus reviews have been participating of this deceitful marketing with regard of this and other books that aren't suited for young audiences. So be careful.

More of that in my ACOMAF review:

Problematic issues and erotic content of the previous work of these authors

Cait's Paper Princess review

Kriss' Paper Princess review

More on misleading marketing on my A court of mist and fury review.

I haven't read When it's real yet, I just wanted to warn you about sexual content in case you prefer clean reads or were thinking to give it as a gift to an underage reader. I personally prefer smut in my reads and although I hated paper princess I like Elle Kennedy and I'll read this. I just think that it's big time authors and publishing companies stop shoving sex scenes down young people's throats WITHOUT A WARNING. Give us a warning and don't try to mislead us.

If you need a book of similar theme which is indeed young adult and clean and not new adult read
Catch a falling star. You can read aloud the romantic scenes of that book to your parents or underage kids and you wouldn't get into trouble. And if you want to give a young adult book as a gift to an underage kids you can trust your gift won't be see as of bad taste if you buy catch a falling star.

I only wish I could say the same of other Young adult reads. I don't have confidence to give books as gift anymore. If there's a rating system for movies, why not for books?

If you see children reading this book or A court of mist and fury in a bookstore I hope you can report to the bookstore or their parents.

UPDATE: My friend Lanae gave me more information on the sexual content of this book. Aparently the sexual scene in this book is very "fade to black" and it's not as graphic as Paper princess. That leaves me exactly in the same position because

a) A fade to black sex scene is more New adult than YOung adult, especially considering that a relatively clean book like Slammed by Colleen Hoover is considered New adult

b) 10-15 YO readers might enjoy this book enough to later want to purchase, borrow or read Paper princess, The deal and all the rest of the authors' erotic books. So careful!

By no means I'm saying don't read the book.

By no means I'm saying that erotica authors can't write clean YA. Even though Paper Princess isn't clean YA some erotica authors (other than Frederick and Kennedy) might manage to write clean YA.

All I'm saying is that:
a) We need a PG system like the one for movies and videogames
b) Bookbloggers, Booktubers, Kirkus reviews, Goodreads librarians and moderators shouldn't lie to us or actively participate in the deceiving marketing of big publishing houses. This is a place that was supposed to be from readers to readers. Stop pretending that a book like A court of mist and fury is a young adult book because I've read reports of young children, as young as 7 YO reading or perusing copies of ACOMAF and Paper princess.
Profile Image for Aestas Book Blog.
1,059 reviews74.8k followers
June 2, 2017

A pop star.
A regular girl.
The world's watching.

WOW! This book was addictive, heart-warming, and so well-written!! I read it in one non-stop sitting because I just did not want to put it down! If you're looking for a new rock star romance to fall in love with, check this out!

"Under ordinary circumstances, Oakley Ford and Vaughn Bennett would never even cross paths..."

The story begins when Vaughn, a completely down-to-earth, no-bullshit, no-nonsense girl who has sacrificed her college life to waitress and financially support her younger siblings after their parents were killed, is offered an unexpected job that has the power to change her life. The publicity team behind Oakley Ford -- the most famous teenage pop star on the planet -- is willing to pay her twenty thousand dollars a month to pretend to be his girlfriend. She's baffled by the absurdity of the concept, and has no patience for his drama, but hey if they're willing to pay her that much money to pretend to be in love with this guy, who is she to say no?

“They want you to pretend to be Oakley Ford’s girlfriend this year.”
I spray the concrete steps with lukewarm coffee mixed with spit. “What?”
“I promise you it isn’t as bad as it sounds… They’ll pay you twenty thousand a month.”
I spin around slowly, my mouth hanging open. “Are you offing kidding me?… That would…”
“Put the boys through college? Pay off both our mortgages? Make everything easier for us? Yes.”

Oakley is no happier about their situation. Having grown up in the spotlight as a child star, he now only wants to be taken seriously as an artist. Sure, he's made bucket loads of money being a pop star, but his fan base is mostly rabid, slightly crazed teenage girls. The music he's shelling out just isn't the sound he wants to be creating and as such, he's lost his mojo. Not to mention that despite his awards and fame, his reputation has recently taken a beating and he needs a more wholesome image to sell to the press to give them a reason to believe in him again. Enter Vaughn.

If pretending to date a girl I don’t know, who doesn’t like me, gets [my mojo] back, then I’ll be the best boyfriend this chick has ever had.

Oakley and Vaughn were polar opposites. Even at nineteen, Oak was used to the fake facade of fame, to the privacy intrusions, gossip lies, and unwanted attention. He was a bit egotistical and spoiled but ultimately had a very good heart underneath everything. And for him, Vaughn's lack of adoration, fangirlyness, and her unfiltered sass and honesty was exactly the reality check he so desperately needed. But she was still new to his whole world and after signing the contract, her life spiralled into lies built on lies -- with each move either of them made being calculated deliberately by a room full of publicity managers, PR consultants, and lawyers.

“So are we going to talk about terms? Like, what are my work hours?” I ask coolly, cradling the pop can between my hands.
“Work hours?” Claudia echoes, a tiny furrow appearing on her forehead.
“Yeah, since this is my job.”
She titters. “Not a job, more like a…”
“Role?” one of her assistants offers.
“Yes. A role in a long, romantic movie. And you’re the two leads.”

However, in the midst of the crazy new pretend relationship that they were selling to the press, something real began to grow between them. It was unexpected and thrilling. They'd been fooling the world into thinking they were a real couple, until they realized that the only people they were fooling were themselves...

I rub her arms. Kiss the top of her head. Remind myself that this is about her and that I’m a terrible human being for enjoying the closeness between us. This is the only time she’s willingly allowed me to hold her. There aren’t any cameras here. This isn’t for show.
This is as real and as awful and as wonderful as it gets. I’d hold her forever if she’d let me.

Now, just because I knowww that many of you will be wondering about this, I'll tell you that yes, Vaughn does have a boyfriend in the beginning of the book for a while. I don't consider it a love triangle though at all because it's clear to anyone that her boyfriend is a selfish douche and isn't close to worthy of being the hero of this story (or any other one) so yeah, it's a little annoying, but they did a good job explaining why she was with him so his character made sense for the part he played in this story.

I loved many things about this book. I loved that even though Oak had so many opportunities to be a manwhore in his life with all the girls constantly throwing themselves at him, he actually had standards and a sense of loyalty. He was a one-woman man and I really respected that quality about him. I loved that Vaughn wasn't a pushover when it came to Oakley. Despite his fame, she had no problem dishing out the sarcasm, attitude, and she didn't sugar coat her feelings. She kept things real with him and I loved her honesty.

“You realize there are millions of girls out there who would kill to be sitting beside me right now?” I say tightly.
She flips the book open, not even looking at me. “Yeah? Then why are you paying me to do it?”

This is a standalone novel that kind of rides the line between mature YA and early NA. The hero and heroine are in their late teens, and there is some sex but not very much. It's also written in first person from alternating POVs. It's lightly angsty in places, but nothing gut-wrenching. The romance is very sweet, slow-burning (but believable) and the ending was completely heart-warming, swoony, and satisfying. It left me smiling!

“Touring isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. It’s a lot of work and the down days are often spent traveling from one location to another. You miss your family, your friends, even your on bed.”
“That actually sounds amazing,” I tell him.
We lock eyes. “You should come with me next time.”
“Maybe I will.” I grin…
“And on that note, I think I’m going inside,” Carrie announced. “You, too, Kiki.” She pulls Kiki off the railings.
“But I wanna see what happens next,” Kiki wails.
Oak’s lips curve up.
“They’re not a television show,” Carrie scolds as she drags Kiki inside the house.
“No, they’re better.”

As soon as I started reading the first few pages of this book, I fell in love with loved the writing. Erin Watt has a fun, fresh, addictive voice that just compels you to keep reading. I'm definitely going to be on the look out for their next books and I highly recommend this one as a great rock star romance and a new favorite!

Rating: 4 - 4.5 stars! Standalone Contemporary Romance. Mature YA/Early NA.

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Profile Image for • Jodi Bibliophile •.
311 reviews1,094 followers
April 2, 2020

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Erin Watt is writing a new fucking book!!!

I would sell my fucking womb for a camel for this fucking book!

For reals I would read these fuckers shopping list!!!!!
Profile Image for Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink.
259 reviews4,901 followers
May 11, 2018
This was a pleasant surprise.

First of all, long time no see everyone! I've been so busy, I haven't been able to keep up with reviews lately (or reading as much as I used to). However, I did digest this one an audio while sick last week, so I thought I'd jot a few thoughts down.

Honestly, I was nervous because I had some big BIG issues with Erin's other series (Paper Princess). Especially in the consent department. However, this book seemed to make consent the focus in the relationship, which I super appreciated. It seems amidst the backlash, Erin took it to heart and wrote this one carefully and respectfully, for which I am thankful.

The basic premise is: Girl gets talked into accepting a deal with the publicity department for a popular musician/teen idol Oakley. Her job is to appear to be his wholesome girlfriend to help clean up his reputation. At first, she's mildly excited because IT IS Oakley, a guy she had a crush on in her younger years, however, her excitement is quickly snuffed out when Oakley turns out to be a total douche.

Or is he?

They both know the relationship is only for show, and things are even more interesting because Vaughn has a boyfriend.

Anyway, it's a classic hate-to-love with super cute moments (though I was waiting for some kind of retribution for the asshole boyfriend and was disappointed in that department).

If you are looking for a sweet summer read, this one is worth checking out.

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Profile Image for Nissa | Of Pens and Pages Book Blog.
337 reviews995 followers
May 30, 2017
4 stars!

Review at Of Pens and Pages.

Light, sweet, and angst-free, When It’s Real is a great summer read! It’s a fluff fest that will leave butterflies inside your belly and a perma-smile on your face long after finishing the book.

At nineteen years old, world-renowned pop star Oakley Ford has reached Bieber-level notoriety in partying and philandering, and his label is getting sick of it. He hasn’t released anything since his successful album “Ford”, and everyone—including Oakley—is worried he’s turning into a washout.

The first step into reviving his career—a reputation repair. In this case, they believe a faux-mance PR stunt would be perfect to help fix his career and convince one of the best producers in town to collaborate with Oakley.

Enter Vaughn Bennett, seventeen-year-old sister of Paisley who works in Oakley’s talent management company. Her parents’ death leaves Vaughn, Paisley, and their twin brothers strapped for cash, and she and Paisley work hard every day to keep their family afloat. Oakley’s management thinks she’s perfect for the role—she’s wholesome and ordinary, not at all flashy like everything in Hollywood.

Oakley and Vaughn did not have the best first meeting, but she could use the cash to support her family. She goes along with it and is dragged to parties, outings and public appearances as Oakley’s girlfriend. What starts out as a ruse turns into so much more as the two get to know each other and finally enjoy each other’s company.

It wouldn’t be an Erin Watt novel without a hero you love to hate and hate to love, and a strong heroine who doesn’t cower and bend.

Oakley started out as this typical rock star hero who thinks he can get away with anything, but as the story went on, it was absolutely adorable to see him slowly change into someone less Hollywood and more human. His interactions with Vaughn’s brothers and his affection for her made my heart flutter and swoon!

Vaughn is hard-working, strong, and kind. Most times, she will stand up for herself and will not tolerate crap, especially Oakley’s. She will do anything for her family and everyone she cares about, but sometimes her kindness is taken advantage of. Perfect example is her ex-boyfriend, d*ckhead W. Even his name is douche-y.

The pacing was just right until a little bit in the end. I would have wanted more space for the conflict before the ending. It felt rushed and added in the last minute, so it’s what’s kept me from giving this five stars. Vaughn also did a thing that bothered me.

Other than that, I really enjoyed this book! It was mostly light and fluffy, and it made me grin a lot. I loved the moments when Oakley became clingy/cuddly. Adorable.

When It’s Real is a standalone young adult novel told in alternating POVs. It’s a lot different to this duo’s previous books (The Royal series—angst-filled romance woohoo!), but it’s still as engaging, fun, and lovable. A perfect read for the summer.

P.S. Vaughn’s ex is a d*ck.

*ARC received in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Megan✦❋Steamy Reads Blog❋✦.
293 reviews467 followers
May 17, 2017

“This is as real and as awful and as wonderful as it gets. I’d hold her forever if she’d let me.”

After reading and devouring The Royals series by Erin Watt (aka the dynamic duo Elle Kennedy and Jen Frederick), I just couldn’t wait to read their next story. I was wondering what sort of world they would create for us this time and I tell you what, I was not disappointed (not that I could say I was surprised). I know this book has received mixed reviews, especially with respect to lack of originality, but that didn’t bother me at all. In the end, if a book is well written and has an enjoyable storyline that keeps me entertained, then there is nothing wrong with familiar territory. I am a big fan of the famous guy/ordinary girl/fake girlfriend trope, so for me, this story was right up my ally.

Oakley Ford is a well renowned pop star who has shot to fame at the age of fourteen. He has had immense success, including a double platinum album and his latest self- titled album “Ford”, went diamond. At the ripe old age of nineteen he is at a cross roads in his career; he is close to burning out. He appears to have it all to the outside world, but looks can be deceiving. His life is spiralling out of control and his PR team have to step in to do damage control.

Vaughn Bennett has taken on more than any seventeen year old should have to. She has definitely been dealt a dud hand. After grieving the loss of her parents, she turns her focus to her remaining family; she just wants to get by. With the help of her older sister Paisley, they struggle to make life for better for their younger twin brothers. When an opportunity arises for Vaughn to act as Oak’s girlfriend, she feels she has no other option but to accept the opportunity.

“You’re the one person in my life who wants nothing but me and it’s terrifying and awesome at the same time. Don’t ever leave me.”

Oak’s public image is going downhill faster than then a teenage girl can scream ‘Oakley Ford!’ In order to help to address the slide, Vaughn is hired to be his girlfriend and with the money she makes, she’ll be able to secure a future for her family and perhaps even be able to put her twin brothers through college. The celebrity life is definitely not Vaughn’s scene at all, but she is willing to put up with the paparazzi, the over the top Hollywood parties and having her every move watched, all for the benefit of her family. She is a noble creature.

I really loved the character development between Oak and Vaughn; in fact I actually found it more relatable than I thought I would which is a credit to the authors. Oak was a major douche at the beginning, but I really enjoyed reading the transition of his character into somebody more likeable and loveable. Vaughn was the perfect ‘normal’ girl to help boost Oak’s public image. She appears quite conscientious and timid. You really could label her the perfect ‘girl next-door’, but she certainly can hold her own.

I would most definitely recommend this story to anyone who wants to read a sweet, easy, light read with little angst and who also love their celebrity/normal girl/ fake girlfriend trope. I’m sure this one will hit the spot.

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Profile Image for Jessica ❥Chatterbooks Book Blog❥.
774 reviews2,631 followers
December 18, 2017
When It's Real is the latest novel by the sensational author duo, Erin Watt. I'm a huge fan of their Royals series, so there was no question as to whether or not I would be reading this. I can't even imagine them writing a bad book at this point, and for that reason, I went into this with the expectation that I was going to enjoy the hell out of it. I wasn't wrong.

Vaughn Bennett recently graduated high school, but with no clear idea of what she wants to do with her life, she decides to take a year off before going to college. Not to mention, working instead of studying will also help her family out financially. Vaughn's parents died when she was only 15, and her sister, Paisley, has been their sole guardian ever since. Paisley works herself to the bone to keep her family together, and Vaughn chipping in will help to relieve some of the burden.

Oakley Ford is the son of two movie stars and a famous popstar in his own right. He already has a couple of hit records under his belt, and he's not even twenty years old yet. The problem is he hasn't produced an album in 2 years which as Oak's manager reminds him is like a decade in the music industry. He needs to make some magic in the studio and fast.

Oakley wants to create something different than anything else he's done before, and he thinks working with a renowned producer by the name of King is exactly the way to accomplish that. However, King wants nothing to do with Oakley at the moment, but his manager is confident he will in the future if Oakley does something to gain his attention. That something is him dating a "normal" girl. Of course, it would all be fake. His team plans out the whole pr stunt, and Oak reluctantly agrees after some convincing. He'll do whatever it takes to get to King.

Paisley works for the company that represents Oakley, and when his people see Vaughn's picture on her desk, they ask Paisley to offer Vaughn the job. Vaughn already has a boyfriend, and she could care less about Oakley Ford. Her gut reaction is to say no, but after some consideration, she agrees. The money she would recieve would do more for their family than Vaughn and Paisely's jobs combined.

Pretending to date starts to feel a lot like actually dating. Though they have a rocky start, Vaugn and Oak begin to care about each other a lot. They both struggle with their feelings and vulnerabilities as everything becomes increasingly complicated and confusing.

When you're in a "fake" relationship, how do you determine if any part of it is real? How hard would it be to admit you have feelings for someone who is just supposed to be using you to further his career? Could you fall in love with someone that is being paid to be with you?

When It's Real is a light, sweet romance that's very different than what I expected it to be after reading the Royals. That being said, I still really enjoyed it! The writing style is amazing, the characters are likable, and the story is entertaining! If you're intrigued by the blurb, and/or you're a fan of the authors' writing, I wouldn't hesistate to one-click this one!
December 9, 2018

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Arranged marriages and fake relationships are my FAVORITE romance trope. I don't know what this says about my relationship goals - probably bad things - but whatever, I like what I like, and nothing screams "auto-buy!" like a book that has one of these tropes in its blurb. When I found out that WHEN IT'S REAL was about a fake relationship between a normal girl and a pop star as a publicity stunt to boost his image, I was like HELLS YEAH! Also it was by the same cracktastic author duo that brought the Hana Yori Dango-esque PAPER PRINCESS into my life. Peace.

WHEN IT'S REAL stars Vaughn Bennett and Oakley "Daddy Issues" Ford (barf). Vaughn is an orphan who works as a waitress to take care of her young twin brothers, with the help of her sister, Paisley. Oakley Ford (barf) is a Justin Bieber-esque pop star who wants to be taken seriously as an artist, but no one will do that because of his party boy lifestyle. The solution? A fake relationship with an ordinary good girl to make him seem like his priorities are sorted.

Conveniently enough, Paisley happens to work at the same business as Oakley's agent and publicist and when they see the picture of Vaughn on Paisley's desk, they're like, "That's the girl!" The two of them hate each other at first, but Oakley admires Vaughn for being such a spunky lil' orphan, and Vaughn feels sorry for Oakley for having daddy issues, and truly, it is a match made in pity.

I loved PAPER PRINCESS and wanted to love this, but I just couldn't. WHEN IT'S REAL was lame and had so many problems. First, the hero's name sounds like a car dealership. It was impossible to take him seriously, since every time I heard his name in the narrative, it felt like someone was trying to sell me a truck. I also didn't care for him much - he was pretty dull and childish. Not very romantic. Vaughn was also annoying in her own way, and I felt like the author(s) were trying too hard to make her a figure of pity - to the point where she didn't really have any hobbies or interests. It kind of felt like she was defined as being poor and spunky, which wasn't all that interesting.

Second, let's talk about W (all the guys in this book have TERRIBLE names). W is Vaughn's real boyfriend who agrees to sign the nondisclosure agreement because of the money Vaughn will get (and also because she promised to promote his stupid YouTube channel). In order to set up Vaughn and Oakley guilt-free, the authors make W the most repulsive human being possible. He also cheats on Vaughn and claims he "didn't want to do it" but that it "just happened." Which is the classic douchebag Steve excuse, if you ask me. Especially since the excuse that he gives her - jealousy over the pictures of her and Oakley - turned out to be a lie because he cheated before they came out. So either he stalked her and saw it in person, or he did it for funsies and tried to drag her down to his level to rationalize his POS mentality. Either way, I was so not a fan of W - but it also felt like a very cheap plot device to make us, the readers, love Oakley for treating Vaughn like a human being instead of a sex object, and I think we can all agree that basic human decency is no reason for a relationship.

Third, let's talk about how the sexual assault in this book was totally glossed over? Oakley's band mate, Luke, puts the moves on Vaughn when she is puke-your-guts-out drunk. I think if you're so drunk you're throwing up (early stage alcohol poisoning), you're in no condition to consent to anything. And yet, Oakley is mad about the "cheating" and not the fact that Luke is a douchebag Steve potential rapist. Oakley even confronts Vaughn about the "cheating" and grills her on it. Keep in mind that he is there when she goes into the bathroom and can hear her throwing up. Does he ask her if she's okay? Nah, it's all WHY WERE YOU KISSING MY BAND MATE.

Fourth, in the last of the act, Oakley and Vaughn break up when they're falling for each other for real over a stupid misunderstanding that COULD HAVE BEEN RESOLVED if either of them had pulled their heads out of their rear ends for the five-freaking-seconds it would have taken to discuss what happened like actual adults instead of the children they apparently are. At that point, I decided I was done with this whole book mentally. It was just to tedious to be invested in any longer.

Fifth, each chapter opens with Tweets from Oakley's stans, who are repulsive human beings. This is basically the only thing the book got right: speaking as someone who routinely gets rude comments from YA stans about the books I've reviewed, stans are the worst. They slut-shame Vaughn and say really creepy things about Oakley, and I hope their exchanges aren't supposed to be funny, because I mostly just found it disturbing and too close to the truth about the way the internet is.

If you liked PAPER PRINCESS, I'd advise against reading this. It felt like a watered-down version of everything that I actually liked about PAPER PRINCESS, and more of what I didn't like.

Translation: disappointing!

2 to 2.5 stars
Profile Image for Bibi.
1,282 reviews3,263 followers
August 6, 2017
Ridiculously entertaining. So good.

Profile Image for Kat.
Author 8 books353 followers
July 21, 2022
This book was SO SO cute. I swear, I don't think Erin Watt can write a bad book. Those two ladies are dynamite. Popstar Oakley and regular girl Vaughan are thrown together in a fake relationship to improve Oakley's image with the media, but as you can imagine, things get complicated from there when feelings start to get real.

Oakley comes with family drama and paparazzi that tail his every move. He's had to distance himself since he was a young teen, and as one can imagine, that would turn anyone into an emotional mess. Vaughan is dealing with the recent loss of her parents and having to raise her younger brothers and support the household with the help of her sister, which is why she agrees to the gig in the first place. It's a great scenario. I just loved everything about this... the flawed but still redeemable characters, the sweet relationship that formed over time, the drama that they had to work their way through. This was just completely a hit.
Profile Image for Rachel  L.
1,828 reviews2,189 followers
June 4, 2017
2.5 stars

When It’s Real is the story of a girl named Vaughn who is hand picked to be the new girlfriend of Oakley Ford, a famous pop star. Oakley needs to polish up his public image, showing he can be a devoted boyfriend and not just the playboy partier everyone thinks he is. Vaughn agrees to do this because her family needs the money, her parents passed away leaving her and her sister in charge of their siblings.

At first, Vaughn and Oakley cannot stand each other. She thinks he’s rude and he thinks she’s a prude. But as time goes by a small friendship forms, and we all know where it goes from there.

I was so very sad that I didn’t like this book. I love Erin Watt, Paper Princess and Broken Prince are some of my all time favorite books EVER. And for that I’ll read anything this duo writes. But I failed to see the attraction between the two main characters in this one, to me they had zero chemistry and just sort of landed together. The book started out very strong but near the middle just slowed down. I also felt the book was too long.

Watt did a great job portraying celebrity life, all of its positives and negatives. It can make dreams come true, but at a price. I really liked how Oakley wanted to express himself differently and that he wanted another side of his story to be heard.

I think many people will love this book a lot, but it just wasn’t for me.

ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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Profile Image for Wendy'sThoughts.
2,657 reviews3,235 followers
May 24, 2017
4 YA Love Stars
* * * *
I have a confession...I'm really not a YA reader...So what are you doing reading it, Wendy...
Well, it was done by Erin Watt...
And since I loved The Royals...
I had to give When It's Real a go...

I'm guessing, this had all of the markings of what a YA Teen Romance should have. There was the overall romance of a "Justin Bieber Level Rock Star" needing a "Normal" to romance so he could clean up his reputation.

Oakley started singing early on and his parents were famous movie stars. He never had to want for anything except their attention...

When he was around 13 or 14... he really started to take off with a record label wanting to sign him to a major contract. His manager made sure the deal was solid. When Oakley discussed it with his family... the dad was jealous of what was happening with Oakley... and told him not to sign. The fight over the contract caused a chain of events which led to a major separation with Oakley and his mom. He was done with his dad.

Years go by and Oakley's career at 19 is insanely good... tours, groupies, Grammy's Awards... everything a singer-songwriter should want. He has been everywhere...Won every Award and had his fill of mindless sex, too much booze, etc...

He is at a crossroads with his music. Oakley's last album was done two years ago...He hasn't done anything since....

Well, that's not exactly true. He has worked with a various producers who all come from different genres trying to find that inner new voice he wants to come out. He is bored with the same old same old and refuses to put out a record that will mirror more of the same. He has this idea brewing of what his music should be but he can't quite make it happen...

There is one producer he knows who could bring it out of him...But the producer he won't return his calls. Even his manager has been trying to put Oakley together with this guy but the response is Oakley needs to show how serious he really is about his art before the guy will consider working with him.

Well, hell what is Oakley going to do to make this happen...His manager tells him he has a plan. He is going to clean up his image with a "Nice Normal Girl" for him to "Date" and then things will turn around. Oakley has no desire to do this... as the last time he did a fake relationship, it blew up in his face. No, the manager says... this will be totally different... no one from the industry... contracts and everything. All Managed.

Vaughn Bennett was minding her own business... she was helping her sister raise their twin brothers. It hadn't been easy when their parents died in an accident leaving them with a minor life insurance policy. Vaughn's older sister worked hard holding the family together so that no one was put in foster care. Her sister sacrificed and now Vaughn feels delaying her going to college for a year to contribute financially is the least she can do.

Vaughn is a little lost, too. She really doesn't know what she wants to do with her life. She has a boyfriend who was there for her when her parents died; he is her safe place. They had planned to be together at USC; now his is there without her. She is working as a waitress at an up scale steak franchise so the tips are decent. Yet other than working, taking care of the house and brothers, Vaughn is stuck trying to figure out what this 17 year old girl plans to do with her life.

It is a picture in a cubicle which starts all of this rolling. The manager sees Vaughn in a family photo her sister has pinned by her computer. He stops... looks closer and then takes it off the wall...Her sister is called into the office with all of the entertainment management team and asked about Vaughn. As the questions come fast and furious, it becomes clear Vaughn has been picked to be Oakley's "Nice Normal Girl"....

Vaughn doesn't know what to think of this crazy idea when her sister presents it to her...it is too much...Even though there isn't any hanky panky involved...she just can't quite put her head around it...

But then she is told how much money the 1 year contract is...
And she thinks of her twin brothers and the funds they will need for college...
And finally...She thinks about all her sister did for the family so it could be this loving family together....She tells her sister she will take the meeting and listen to what they present.

Vaughn enters the conference room and all the suits are there; lawyers, pr hacks, assistants, the owner of the entertainment company and her sister's boss. But no Oakley...

When Oakley does swagger in, Vaughn has been there for hours dealing with too personal questions, no food and her patience is done. If Oakley expected someone to gush and be pleased to meet him, he had another thing coming. Vaughn was no ordinary teenage get a long girl. Vaughn had her own mind, didn't fit that Barbie Wanna Be Mold...she danced to her own drummer. So even though seeing Oakley in person was breath-taking and made her mind almost turn to mush... she fought it and gave a bit of attitude.

It was from this meeting we get a glimpse of where this is may go...Oakley as a "child rock star" never had to work for anyone's attention or interest...and he is certainly not going to work for Vaughn's... that's for sure...

Or Not...because this book is exactly about these two characters and the arcs they go through... becoming more clear in what they want out of life... and then each other. We experience who all of the experiences, insecurities and other factors play out and affect these two. There is the add layer of today's social media which was entertaining but also revealing in how something can take on a life of its own, too.

This is chocked full of interesting characters... The sister, brothers, the security team and how all of them interact...I smell more books with them and they should be solid.

This was YA and again I am not an expert in how these romances go... but there was humor, discovery, hurt, understanding and self realization happening throughout. All of it done in the capable hands of Erin Watt.

~~~~~ Before Reading ~~~~~

What did you think...
That this Erin Watt was a One Note Wonder....
That she (they) could only write New York Times Best Seller Series....
That it had to have Cliffhangers in order to keep us interested...

Hell No...

Erin Watt has something else to tempt us...
An out of control Teen Rock Star....
(Think Justin Bieber at his worst)
Needing a total Publicity Redemption...

Partner it with an everyday girl...
Living her life with her family who have all sorts of financial burdens....
What's a gal gonna do...
She will play the part...
Because how hard could it be not to fall...
After all it's not like...

When It's Real - May 30th 2017

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Profile Image for Hulya Kara Yuksel.
906 reviews1,082 followers
May 30, 2017
“This is as real and as awful and as wonderful as it gets. I’d hold her forever if she’d let me.”

Profile Image for ✰ Bianca ✰ BJ's Book Blog ✰ .
2,150 reviews1,206 followers
June 24, 2021




Oakley has been born famous - his parents are huge Hollywood stars.
And when he was 14 he started being famous on his own. He became a pop star.


And after living the life for the last five years, it's finally catching up to him. He's constantly in the tabloids for stupid stuff, he's losing social media followers, he's not feeling the music anymore.
He needs this next album to be a huge success. And he needs this famous producer - King - to produce it!
But King will only do it if Oak cleans up his act!
And the only thing that can achieve that - says Oak's manager Jim - is to hire a fake girlfriend. A girl all his female fans will love. A normal girl, just like them.
Enter Vaughn.
She's 17. Already done with high school, she's working as a waitress to help feed the family.
Her parents died two years ago, and her older sister is now responsible for Vaughn and the 12-year old twin boys.
Twenty thousand dollars a month to pretend to be Oakley Ford's girlfriend would help Vaughn's family so much. It would put food on the table until the boys left for college and it would also pay the boys' college!
But, Vaughn kinda has a boyfriend. And she's also not really impressed by the rather cocky and spoiled singer!
Let the fun times begin!!! ☺

What will happen to Vaughn & Oakley?
Will there be a HEA?





I'm a huge #RockStarRomance fangirl!
And this story was sooo adorable!
It's not your typical erotic, on-the-tourbus, live rock-shows, kind of thing.
It's a sweet story written for the younger crowd. But this older blogger still loved it!

It's all so adorable!
The way they're both fighting for their future.
The way poor Oakley is trying so hard to make new, and better music.


The way Vaughn tries to resist him. Because the real guy behind the star, is someone she really likes. A lot.
I loved watching them both doing a lot of growing up and finding themselves.
This was such a perfect book. Full of fun and laughter. Romance and feelings. Family, friends - real and fake. Love and hate. I loved every second of it!
I so want to see this book made into a movie! And I also want to travel back in time to when I was 17 and be Vaughn! Well, at least the #rockstargirlfriend part.☺ Vaughn is SO my spirit animal ('cause just like me, she hates cats and is afraid of butterflies!☺)

WHEN IT'S REAL was the most adorable #RockstarRomance! Sweet, funny, serious, moving. Just beautiful! Run to your nearest amazon for your own Oak - this one is MINE!!! ☺

And now I'm excited for whatever the Erin Watt ladies have for us next!☺


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Profile Image for Amy | Foxy Blogs.
1,414 reviews971 followers
January 12, 2022
When It’s Real is teen drama amped up. Teen heartthrob & rockstar, Oakley, needs a new image and his PR team has decided dating an ordinary girl will do the trick. When Vaughan is offered the position she only agrees for the year long fake relationship because of her family's dire financial situation.

I really enjoyed the premise of this book because it made me think if I was a teen girl in Vaughan’s situation would I agree to this sham?! I think for the majority of teen girls they would take on the job of playing a fake girlfriend to a super hot rock star. But, as with anything in life, there are some obstacles that make their situation a little more difficult. It doesn’t help that Oakley is a major jerk when they first meet and the fact that he’s not really onboard with his PR teams idea of putting on this charade.

“Half the time when you open your mouth, you say something that makes me want to punch you. But when you sing…you make it really hard to hate you.”

An enemy-to-friends-to-lovers tale where a fake relationship turns into something real with all the whistles and bells. I had fun reading this story because I transported myself back to my teen days and thought about what it would be like to have this opportunity to be paid to pretend to be the girlfriend of a teen rock star. HELL YEA!! I would have been all over that like a bee to honey.

When It’s Real is a standalone young adult romance. Readers who love the misunderstood hero will enjoy this story. Also, readers who love when an ordinary person catches the attention of a famous person will be heaven too. If you've heard the hype about the author duo - Erin Watts but haven’t had a chance to read them yet ... here’s your chance to try their work without committing to a series (like with their The Royals series). This author duo is top notch!

RELEASE DATE: May 30, 2017

**Complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.**

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Profile Image for Patricia Bejarano.
436 reviews5,404 followers
June 27, 2018
4.5 en realidad ❤
He disfrutado muchísimo este libro...
Lo primero que debo decir es que es muy adictivo. No pensaba que fuera de otra forma, ya que las autoras me tenían acostumbrada a eso. Pero ¡OMG! No podía parar de leer ni mientras comía ni nada, solo quería leer y no hacer nada más.
Hay algo que me ha encantado de este libro y es como va surgiendo la historia entre Oak y Vaughn. Ambos empiezan teniendo una relación puramente profesional y no muy buena, pero cuando se van conociendo, vemos como van surgiendo los sentimientos entre ellos, como los pequeños detalles van marcando el enamoramiento y eso me ha flipado. Estoy tan acostumbrada a los instalove en los libros new adult, que no esperaba algo así. Estoy muy sorprendida y feliz, porque he shippeado muchísimo a los personajes gracias a ello.
También me ha encantado la historia. Me pueden las historias de chico famoso, chica anónima que se enamoran. No lo puedo evitar.
Se han tratado muchos temas como la fama, las redes sociales, las mentiras que se cuentan en ellas, que me han parecido muy bien tratados.
Otra cosa que me ha gustado es no encontrarme a un chico como los que salen en la saga Los Royals, porque siempre hacía que bajase mi puntuación a esos libros y en este caso me ha parecido un personaje masculino muy coherente. Claro que tenía sus cosas, pero no era el típico capullo y eso mola.
Si os apetece leer in libro new adult, adictivo y con un romance estupendo, no os lo podéis perder.
Profile Image for Astrid - The Bookish Sweet Tooth.
794 reviews876 followers
May 27, 2017
Review @ Vanilla & Spice Books

This is as real and as awful and as wonderful as it gets. I’d hold her forever if she’d let me.

Oakley Ford used to be a teenage superstar. At 19 his stardom has taken a nosedive and to jump-start his career his manager suggests dating a normal girl instead of a co-star. Oak agrees after some hesitation. When a girl has been found that fulfills the requirements a strategy of "attack" is being planned and carried out.

When Vaughn's parents died in a car crash they left her and her siblings without a proper financial security. Ever since Vaughn and her sister have been raising their twin brothers. Money is tight so when her sister tells her that Vaughn could earn a lot of money by fake-dating someone famous she doesn't need to think about it for long. While she isn't cut out for being in the spotlight her family comes first...and her boyfriend? Well, hopefully he will understand that this serves to improve the little family's financial situation significantly. Too bad Oakley Ford turns out to be a major jerk.

Heads up, Oak isn't a likable character when you start reading this book, but there is something, an underlying vulnerability and a loneliness, despite all the people he surrounds himself with. It must be hard to follow orders because other people know what's best for you. Then there is the aspect that everyone who profits from him uses Oak for their own gain without a second thought who they hurt.

Oak is something else. At his most vulnerable, he’s the strongest.

Modest he is not but the more you advance in the story the more thoughtful Oak becomes. He has endless patience with Vaughn and at some point I thought he was a little bit too relenting and acquiescent with her. Oak grew on me though and I ended up adoring him.

I don’t know when that happened, but somewhere along the line Vaughn went from the girl I was forced to have on my arm to the girl I want to have in my life.

Now Vaughn was a girl after my taste until she decided to make one bad choice and that choice caused this book to drop down a star a for me. For much of the book she holds her own and stands up to cocky Oakley Ford. She isn't impressed that he is a superstar. I appreciated that Vaughn was ready to do things she didn't want to do in order to secure her family's future. Until around the 70% she was a perfectly likable heroine.

I kissed her because she was funny and sweet. She didn’t mock me when I confessed I was blocked. She tried to comfort me with silly stories about her family even when it was obvious those same memories caused her pain. She doesn’t expect anything from me beyond what we’d agreed upon. She’s different and I wanted a taste of that.

The problem was not what she did, it was the explanation why she did it that totally threw me off and I have to admit I was thinking about dropping my rating to 3 stars but the overall enjoyment of the story had me reconsider.

As is evident by the success of The Royals this author duo definitely knows how to write an engrossing story. The books they write are unputdownable and even though this one had its weaknesses I was totally immersed in the story. I'm pretty sure that most people will feel that way about When It's Real.

When It's Real is a standalone.

Profile Image for NMmomof4.
1,518 reviews3,782 followers
June 24, 2017
3.5 Stars

Overall Opinion: This was a cute YA/NA read. I have always enjoyed the fake relationship to more theme, so I got what I was expecting. Predictable? Yes. But still enjoyable. The characters were likable, and while the H started out as a douchey celebrity I came to like him as well. It left me with unanswered questions, and I just could've done with a little more! More steam, more depth in the characters and storyline, and more closure...more! *greedy grabby hands*

Brief Summary of the Storyline: This is Vaughn and Oakley's story. They meet when Vaughn is hired to be Oakley's fake girlfriend for a year to help clean up his image so he can work with a highly desired music producer to get his new album produced. They bump heads at first, but the more time they spend together the more they see past their initial impressions of one another. There is some ex and family drama, some cute and sweet moments, as well as a few laugh out loud moments...and they get a HFN ending.

POV: This alternated between Vaughn and Oakley's POV.

Overall Pace of Story: Good, until the abrupt ending. I never skimmed and I thought it flowed well otherwise.

Instalove: No, they take a while to develop stronger feelings.

H rating: 4 stars. Oakley. I liked him. I felt bad for how lonely he was, and I liked how he cared for the h.

h rating: 4 stars. Vaughn. I liked her. I appreciated how she didn't get all stupid with the H's celebrity status.

Sadness level: Low, no tissues needed

Push/Pull: Yes

Heat level: Low. There is one kind-of descriptive scene with them. It wasn't fade to black, but it wasn't fully descriptive either -- hard to explain, but I wouldn't necessarily call it hot...

Descriptive sex: Kind of.

Safe sex: Yes

OW/OM drama: Yes

Sex scene with OW or OM: No

Cheating: Yes IMO

Separation: Yes

Possible Triggers: Yes

Closure: This had ok closure, but what felt like an abrupt ending to me. I really wanted more of them as an official couple! I had so many unanswered questions at the end that it frustrated me. I would call it a HFN ending.

How I got it: I got it on loan through my public library.

Safety: This one is probably Safe with exception for most safety gang readers
Profile Image for ❥ KAT ❥ Kitty Kats Crazy About Books.
2,164 reviews7,599 followers
May 27, 2017
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I struggled with this one, I reached 30% and I just can't make myself go any further, I didn't connect with the story or the characters, I had real high hopes for this one, add in whom the author is, what she's written previously and I was jumping up and down for this to arrive. Might just leave it for a few days and then try and come back to it.

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Profile Image for Krissysch.
260 reviews30 followers
April 7, 2020
Ich mag ja solche Superstar-Geschichten total gerne und auch diese hier war sehr unterhaltsam. Klar, die Story ist super vorhersehbar und klischeehaft, aber der Schreibstil ist toll und es macht einfach Spass, dieses Buch zu lesen. Auch die Charaktere waren sehr sympathisch und mit hat es total gut gefallen, dass Vaughn eine bezahlte Fake-Freundin spielen soll, denn dadurch hat sich das Buch nochmal von anderen mit der gleichen Thematik abgehoben. Wer die Paper Reihe der beiden Autorinnen mochte, dem wird dieses Buch definitiv auch gefallen.
Profile Image for Ida.
128 reviews193 followers
October 2, 2017
3.5 stars!

I was actually surprised by how much I liked this book. "When It´s Real" was rather predictable, and I didn´t feel like it built any suspense nor had any surprises, but the story is very well written. The characters are relatable, it doesn´t drag out the plot too much, and the changes in POV is well balanced. All in all a good read. Especially if you´re recovering from a book hangover or waiting for the next book in a series.
Profile Image for Beatrice Masaluñga.
1,137 reviews1,662 followers
May 31, 2017
I received an ARC from the authors / publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Full review posted at Confessions of a Pinay Bookaholic

Nineteen year old heartthrob singer Oakley Ford is on a two year hiatus in the music industry. He’s a successful, talented musician and worked hard to reach it aside from being the son of famous movie stars. Having a strained relationship with his parents makes him rebellious giving him a bad reputation. His lack of inspiration becomes a hindrance creating a new music and has a difficult time convincing Donovan King, a renowned music producer, to work with him unless he sees the drive, seriousness and maturity.

As a solution, his team got an idea. He’ll have a fake relationship with an ordinary girl, Vaughn Bennett to clean up his reputation. Vaughn is the second eldest child of four children. She helps her older sister Paisley providing their family’s needs since their parents died in a car accident. Though she has a boyfriend (who is a piece of crap by the way), taking the job acting as Oakley’s “girlfriend” for a year will help them financially. She signed the contract and hopefully this fake relationship lasts.

Everything was on the rocks when they first met. Vaughn never thought that the person she used to idolize was a rude, conceited brat. Honestly, I can’t stand Oakley too. The progression from fake to real is adorable and heartwarming. What they have isn’t an insta-love. These two warmed up when they got to know each other and their relationship is wonderfully developed. They also made me smile whenever they flirt and throw witty comebacks.

I really love the main characters despite of their flaws. Vaughn is simple, hardworking, responsible, and kind. Unlike other girls around, she doesn’t try hard to impress to get attention and she’s exhibits patience in all the things she does. She’s beautiful inside and out. Oakley is a jerk at first but I grew to love him in the end. He’s attractive, charming, sweet and affectionate. It saddens me how his parents treated him, particularly his father. I’m glad Vaughn is there to support him and Oakley is grateful to her as she inspires him to be a better person. No wonder these two fell in love with each other and they’re both happy in the end.
Shoutout to my favourite side characters: Paisley and Tyrese. Is it selfish of me I want them to have their own book? They also made me giddy aside from Oakley and Vaughn. Also a special mention to the characters I want to throw to the Piranhas: W, Luke, Dustin, Claudia and Jim. They really got me on my nerves.

When It's Real is an enjoyable and winsome story filled with sweet romance, tension, angst and little drama. With Erin Watt's writing style, it will surely hook you from start to finish and this duo knew how to stir their readers' emotions. Praises to Elle Kennedy and Jen Frederick! I recommend this book to everyone.
Profile Image for Jacqueline's Reads.
2,772 reviews1,472 followers
May 5, 2017
4.25 I love Erin Watt Stars

When It’s Real is a New Adult Standalone. I’m a mega fan of The Royals, although at times I wanted to pull my hair out because of all the angst, but that is what made that series so great right? When It’s Real is a more sweet read, there’s still angst, but it’s not at the same level at The Royals and that was okay for me.

I really enjoyed When It’s Real. I found it an easy read and I read it in one sitting. I enjoyed the storyline, the characters and the overall feel of the book.

Vaughn is the Heroine you kind of want to be. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, hence her Van shoes, worn t-shirts and sloppy jeans, but she’s fine with that. Her parents died in a car accident a few years ago and with the help of her sister, they both take care of their twin brothers together.

I enjoyed Vaughn’s past, there’s something endearing about it and you kind of just want to hug the girl.

Oakley is a super famous musician and as much as I hate the singer, I pictured Oakley as Justin Bieber. Only in the sense Oakley became mega famous at a young age and as he is going into adulthood he’s looking to change up his tunes.

I understood Oakley as well. He’s a hard character to love, but I truly liked him. I felt he was a little entitled and snobby, but that’s his character. He pays Oakley to be his girlfriend for a year to lighten his image.

I liked the interaction between Oakley and Vaughn. I didn’t see them as a love connection at first, but I enjoyed the slow burn they started to have for each other. It’s kind of hard to form something since Vaughn is kind of guarded and set in her ways.

The chemistry between Oakley and Vaughn lacked a bit at times, but it didn’t hinder my reading experience, it just wasn’t over the top make me have all the feels kind of chemistry.

I enjoyed the side characters with Oakley’s bodyguard and Vaughn’s family. Overall, the book was sweet. I kind of wished it was two books, only because I felt like the characters had tons of room to grow. The authors are really good at building up characters, so I felt like I could have had more Oakley and Vaughn learning from each other.

Regardless I will see read everything Erin Watt writes because they write good books.

AN ARC was provided

When It's Real by Erin Watt AMAZON
January 27, 2023
Very Good!

The following ratings are out of 5:
Romance: 💙🤎🖤❤️💜
Chemistry: 🧪🧪🧪🧪🧪
Story/Plot: 📕📗📙📘
World building: 🌏🌍🌏🌎
Character development: 😍😚😉🙂🥰
Narrator(s): 🎙🎙🎙🎙🎙
Narration Type: Solo Narration

The Hero: Oakley Ford - he is a nineteen year old pop star who has a bad reputation. He has a great house on beachfront property and can’t even go out on the beach since the last time he tried, three years ago, his shorts were nearly ripped off and the tabloids posted fake stories about him going out like that and terrorizing kids. He is a Grammy winning artist who released four very successful albums between the time he was fourteen and seventeen and has been in a music slump for the past two years. He is in danger of becoming a has been before he reaches twenty.

The heroine: Vaughn Bennett - She is seventeen, has graduated high school early and works as a part-time waitress in order to help her twenty three year old sister provide for their family after their parents died. They have twelve year old twin brothers. Her sister works for Diamond Talent Managment in Los Angeles.

The Story: Oakley’s manager wants him to date someone, though Oakley is not wanting to do so, since the last time he dated another celebrity for press purposes, it worked great for a while until it ended and the girl told everyone what a terrible person she thought he was. Though this time, his manager wants him to date a normal girl so his fans think he is attainable. His manager tells him the successful producer he dreams of making an album with will produce his next record if Oakley can show he is down to earth.

Vaughn’s sister Paisely is posting family pictures on the bulletin board at the talent agency where she works, when her boss notices the picture of Vaughn and the decision is made that she is the one who will be the pretend girlfriend of Oakley Ford. Though when Paisley brings it up to Vaughn, she balks because she thinks Oakley Ford is kind of scuzzy. Also, because she already has a boyfriend who they call W because William Wilkerson is an unfortunate name. Though she re-asses after thinking about the fact that their family can use the money they will be paying her. The money will put the boys through college and pay off both mortgages the two of them are currently paying monthly.

This book is told in dual points of view via dual narration and was narrated by Caitlin Kelly and Teddy Hamilton. Teddy Hamilton is one of my favorite narrators and usually has a deep sexy voice, which he changed a bit to sound like a younger man which worked very well. I almost couldn’t tell it was him, but he did sound age appropriate for the young pop star. Caitlin has a great voice and is a very good narrator who can do multiple voices and she also sounds very age appropriate for this story.

The story was great and I liked it despite the ages of the characters and the fact that Vaughn was a virgin, there wasn’t much steam, but there was a ton of chemistry between the two main characters. I loved that both characters weren’t too happy about the arrangement they found themselves in and how they started out so antagonistic towards each other.

Oakley was so Bieber at the beginning, a spoiled little jerk who was too into the party scene and he lost his music mojo. He wanted to get it back and was tired of the hangers on that surrounded him. The relationship between these Oak and Vaughn was the main storyline and I really enjoyed their journey.

Profile Image for Christie«SHBBblogger».
959 reviews1,245 followers
May 11, 2017

Title: When It's Real
Series: Standalone
Author: Erin Watt
Release date: May 30, 2017
Cliffhanger: No

This is as real and as awful and as wonderful as it gets. I’d hold her forever if she’d let me.

After loving the bestselling Royals series, reading When It's Real was an easy decision to make. Yes, their previous books were filled with a whole lot of drama, and it wasn't for everyone. But somehow they worked their magic, and I couldn't have stopped reading them if my life depended on it. Erin Watt, the author duo of Elle Kennedy and Jen Frederick, warned readers not to expect more of the same. The series being categorized as Mature YA, and this standalone as traditional YA, they're obviously going to have a different slant to them. And I was all for that. Unfortunately this one didn't completely win me over as I had hoped. Don't get me wrong, it was still enjoyable, just missing that extra wow factor that I was hoping for.

Oakley Ford is a nineteen year old rock star who shot to fame at the age of fourteen with his mainstream pop albums reaching double platinum. Now feeling jaded, apathetic, and unable to create anything that he's proud of, he's stuck in a major rut.

I feel like I’ve drunk, smoked, ingested and experienced nearly everything the world has to offer in the past five years. Am I already the washedup pop star before I hit my twenties?

My first impression of Oak was that he was an overindulged guy who thought very highly of himself. But knowing there could be some character growth, I wasn't judging too harshly. And thankfully, his interaction with Vaughn brought about a lot of soul searching and a shift away from his ego. When you grow up in Hollywood as the child of two A-list stars, and then find your own path to fame, it's easy to see how it could cause one to take things for granted and get wrapped up in the adulation. There were flashes though, even in the beginning, when he had an irresistible charisma about him that will make you sit up and take notice.

Vaughn Bennett was your everyday "normal" girl who is far away from the glamorous world that Oak is a part of. After the tragic loss of her parents, she didn't have the luxury of being careless and free anymore. She finished school early and began waitressing in order to help support her family. She and her older sister Paisley take care of their twelve-year old twin brothers adequately enough, but there isn't much hope for college funds in the near future. So when the unusual opportunity to boost Oak's public opinion with a fake relationship falls in her lap, she knows there's no way she could turn down the financial windfall.

Seeing these two interact initially, they butt heads quite a bit. I admired her for her lack of celebrity worship, she treated him appropriately based on his character. She also didn't keep quiet when he let his conceit run away with him. Their combative relationship slowly cooled as their publicity "dates" increased. Suddenly, they discovered that their artificial publicity stunt was proving to feel much more substantial and meaningful. However, the little matter of Vaughn's boyfriend put a damper on them coming clean about their attraction.

For most of the book, I would have easily rated this a solid four stars. It was after they were both single, attraction and deeper feelings were involved, that Vaughn started behaving childishly and I couldn't look at her the same again. I always saw her as the one with her head on straight. Yes, she was lacking direction in choosing what she wanted to do with her life, but who isn't at her age? They were both looking to discover their true selves in a sense. But this? I couldn't reconcile this behavior with who I thought she was.

Though this book wasn't an enthusiastic five for me personally, for many readers I know it will hit all the right spots. The lack of angst and the light, easy pace of it makes it a perfect read if you're looking for something quick and sweet.


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