Friday, August 22, 2014

The Real Thing by Cassie Mae

The Basics:
The Real Thing by Cassie Mae
New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Published August 19, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Why I picked up this book:

I enjoyed Switched by Cassie Mae, which I reviewed here in December of last year, so I was keen to read more from this promising author!


In this electrifying novel from Cassie Mae, two close friends surprise themselves by shifting from platonic love to sexual attraction.

Eric Matua has one friend—his best friend and childhood sweetheart, who needs a place to stay for the summer. Mia Johnson has thousands of friends—who live in her computer. Along with her email chats and Facebook notifications, Mia also devours romance novels, spending countless hours with fictional characters, dreaming of her own Romeo to sweep her off her feet. When she starts receiving supersweet messages from a stranger who thinks she’s someone else, Mia begins to believe that real love is possible outside her virtual world.

When the two friends become roommates, Mia finds herself falling harder than she ever thought she could. But Eric keeps his desires locked away, unsure of himself and his ability to give his best friend what she deserves in a boyfriend. As her advances are continually spurned, Mia splits her time between Eric and her computer. But she soon realizes she’s about to lose the only real thing she’s ever had.

My thoughts:

As someone who spends a lot of time online, this book cut a little close to home. It definitely sends a message that should be near and dear to all of us who 'live' on the Internet and our computers - that the real thing is so much *more* everything.

Other than feeling slightly guilty about the spending the time reading the book instead of playing with my kids, I really enjoyed The Real Thing. There's a beautiful friends-to-lovers story here. I think transitioning from being best friends to lovers is one of my favourite tropes for romances. For me, it's entirely believable (probably because I've lived it!) and I think it's endearingly cute to see a couple trying to negotiate this new territory.

Eric and Mia share the narration of this book, swapping chapters, and I felt that they're both very realistic, contemporary characters. Eric's that rare male character with actual issues, not just things that happened to make him grumpy. And those issues manifest in ways that actually impact the story and his behaviour! I don't know if I've ever read another book that addresses the experience of men who were heavy during their teenage years, so a huge kudos to The Real Thing for tackling that topic. Meanwhile, Mia is a product of this exact time - a social media maven who connects digitally with most of the people in her life. She had a hard time unplugging, a hard time limiting her online activities, and this also plays a role in the story.

I loved the secondary characters - the involvement of Eric's family in his life was sweet, and I thought that Mia's stated ability to connect with people and make friends wherever she was depicted quite nicely throughout the book.

The use of social media - status updates, instant messaging, tweeting and so on was handled really well to fully render Mia but also to give a sense of what so many young and new adults live with today. That sense of being plugged in, of checking feeds and connecting by liking updates and so on, I think that the time-consuming nature of it, the way that those alerts can start to drive a person crazy was really well written.

I did want to know more about Mia's fear of the ocean, and her father, and I think that the latter got a bit lost in the rush of other things being dealt with by Mia and Eric.

Ultimately, I devoured this book, needing to know if these two could overcome their personal problems to find a way to transition from friends to lovers. I was entirely swept up by the journey.

Bottom line:

I loved The Real Thing. It was sweet and real and reflected modern new adult culture really well. I found myself thinking about the book days after I finished reading it - read this one.

4.5 stars
For fans of Cassie Mae, New Adult, characters whom you could meet on the street *today*.

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