This – this is the summer book I was dying to read. This is the enemies-to-lovers, fake dating, YA romance that I was looking forward to and I loved it! I read this in one sitting yesterday because I couldn’t put it down. I can’t wait to read more from this author and you should definitely pick it up if you’re looking for a great summer romance read!
Thank you to Penguin Teen and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC for review. This is a spoiler free, honest review and all thoughts and opinions are my own!
Heartbreakers and Fakers by Cameron Lund
Published: June 8, 2021
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
From the author of The Best Laid Plans comes another fresh voiced, hilarious rom-com perfect for fans of Tweet Cute and The Rest of the Story.
Penny Harris just ruined her life.
As one of the most popular girls in school, she’s used to being invited to every party, is dating the Jordan Parker, and can’t wait to rule senior year with her best friend, Olivia. But when Penny wakes up on Jordan’s lawn the morning after his first-day-of-summer bash, she knows something went terribly wrong the night before.
She kissed Kai Tanaka.
Kai, her long-time nemesis. Kai, Olivia’s boyfriend. Penny can’t figure out what could have inspired her to do it–she loves Jordan and she would never hurt Olivia–but one thing’s for sure: freshly dumped, and out a best friend, the idyllic summer she pictured is over.
And despite the fact that Jordan seems to be seeking comfort (and a whole lot more) in Olivia, all Penny can think about is winning him back. Kai wants to save his relationship too, so they come up with a plan: convince their friends that they really do have feelings for each other. After all, no one can resist a good love story, and maybe seeing Penny and Kai together will make Jordan and Olivia change their minds.
But as summer heats up, so does Penny and Kai’s “relationship,” and Penny starts to question whether she’s truly faking it with Kai, if he’s really as terrible as she always thought he was, and if the life she’s fighting so hard to get back is the one she really wants.
I was very lucky to get an ARC of this book from Penguin Teen a few months ago and was excited to read this during my vacation. When I saw their TikTok talking about this book, I knew I had to pick it up immediately. Fake dating? Enemies to lovers? This was exactly what I wanted in a summer read and the fact that this book takes place the summer before senior year, made it all better.
Penelope (Penny) has ruined her life. She kissed her best friends boyfriend, Kai, and is now single and friendless due to her actions. She can’t figure out why she kissed Kai, she hates him, but she did and now she has to live with the consequences. And it gets worse when her best friend, Olivia, starts dating Penny’s ex – Jordan. Desperate to win her boyfriend and her best friend back, Penny hatches a plan to fake date Kai to make them jealous and hopefully push her and Kai back into their ex’s arms. But what if the fake dating starts to turn into real dating? And what if her best friend isn’t who she really thought she was?
This book has a lot of elements going on through it. We have Penny’s relationship with Olivia, her best friend, and her boyfriend, Jordan, at stake. We have her enemy Kai. And we have her issues with her mom, who’s never home and always seems to bring a new guy home. The relationships in this book get a little murky, but it was one of my favorite parts. Seeing all the weaving webs spinning around this story, complicating things as they move along, it was pretty well thought out!
One thing I loved to see was Penny’s self growth. When we first meet her, Penny is happy to be Olivia’s sidekick. Olivia is #1, Penny is #2, and then we have her friends in spots #3, #4, and #5. Plus, with Olivia being the top dog, everyone else just has to follow behind. It’s very Mean Girls-esque with Olivia as Regina George and Penny as Gretchen Weiners.
Olivia is a horrible friend and just a mean person in general. She’s genuinely cruel to people and the more she interacts with Penny, the more we see how bad of a friend she actually is. Penny isn’t a good friend either though. She’s judgemental and constantly worried about her public appearance. She thinks about how she looks, what she says, who she hangs out with, all for the approval of Olivia and her “friends”. And Jordan is a bad boyfriend too. It’s clear he likes Penny, but he doesn’t really care for her, not like Penny cares for him.
When Kai comes in the picture, it’s clear he and Penny don’t get along. But the more we see them interact, the clearer it becomes that they have a lot in common. And these commonalities are pushing them closer and closer together as they try to drive Olivia and Jordan apart. Especially when Penny doesn’t have many people she can rely on.
I felt so bad as Penny tried to get through to her Mom. She just wants to spend time with her, but she’s always busy with work and with her dates. Penny feels like she’s left behind and it only goes to show that all she wants is to be liked and wanted. Honestly, I could relate to Penny and her desire to just fit in. But I was so happy to see her come out of her shell and realize that she doesn’t need to work so hard for people to like her or change herself to fit in.
Overall, this book was such a good summer read. It occurs in the summertime between junior and senior year, and brings on the friendships, romances, and summer fun that we all wish for and miss having. I definitely recommend this for anyone looking for a great teen romance filled with humor and self reflection. I can’t wait to read more from this author!
If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out What’s Not to Love by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka!