Review: When It’s Real by Erin Watt

When It’s Real
by Erin Watt
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication date: May 30, 2017

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley’s team decides it’s time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he’s settled down.

Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of “normal.” Under ordinary circumstances she’d never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn’t have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley’s team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley’s a shallow, self-centered jerk? It’s not like they’re going to fall for each other in real life…right?



When It’s Real combined two of some really good tropes. You have the celebrity romance aspect which is always a favorite for me. Plus, it’s also a fake relationship turned real romance. When you combine those two together, you get an amazing story.

You see, Oakley’s image is deteriorating and people are tired of seeing him always out partying. Not to mention, one of the biggest producers out there refuses to take Oakley seriously and work with him. So, Oakley’s team comes up with a plan. Maybe if Oakley is seen settling down some with a wholesome girl, maybe people will see him in a new light. Which is where Vaughn comes in. Her sister works for the talent agency that Oakley’s manager’s brother runs. Oakley’s manager spots a photo of Vaughn in her sister’s office when he was visiting his brother at work. One thing led to another and Vaughn is being approached to be Oakley’s new “normal” girlfriend. Since her parent’s passing a couple of years ago, Vaughn and her sister have been struggling to make ends meet. So, while spending a year pretending to be some spoiled musician’s girlfriend isn’t at the top of her list of things she wants to do, she can’t turn down the money that comes with the job.

I really enjoyed this story. It was so less dramatic than Paper Princess, but not any less addictive. I love celebrity romances and this one delivered. While there wasn’t any over the top drama, you did have a jealous boyfriend, jealous fans, and some teenage angst. However, we also got a ton of swoon-worthy scenes. Even thought Oakley starts out as a bit of a douche, he quickly changes his tune and is actually attentive when it comes to Vaughn. Heck, even in the first meeting between these two, even though he’s irritated by the fact he needs a fake girlfriend, he notices that she’s hungry and makes a point to have food ordered for her. Granted, he was the reason she was sitting in that meeting for hours, waiting for him to actually show up, is neither here not there. I just really liked that the author’s softened Oakley up some, while still maintaining his edge.

Even though Oakley did things for Vaughn, she also did a lot for him, too. She tried to give him normalcy. She threw him a birthday party, she invited him over for a BBQ, she even set rules for her friends so that she could bring him to a high school party. It was the little things like that that really made you see Oakley in a new light. You could tell he craved a normal life, but at the same time was used to, and sort of loathed, playing the celebrity role 24/7. He was also always so sure someone was doing or saying something in order to get in his good graces to benefit themselves instead of just wanting to be his friend. So, it was those little moments where Vaughn pulled him into her world that made me fall head over heels for this couple.

I could honestly go on and on about this book. I loved the characters, I loved that we got to see some behind the scenes with Oakley, and I loved that for being something that seems unlikely to ever happen, the authors made you believe in it. There was no crazy over the top drama. Oakley wasn’t some condescending jerk that belittled Vaughn at every turn up until he realized he liked her. He was so respectful of Vaughn that you couldn’t help but fall in love with him. This was an amazing story and I’m soon coming to realize that Erin Watt is a force to be reckoned with. These two authors really know how to write an engaging story.


Favorite quote…

“Keeping an emotional distance from a guy you have to pretend to be dating is the realest struggle ever.”



12 Thoughts on “Review: When It’s Real by Erin Watt

  1. I’m not usually a fan of celebrity romance, but my!!! This screams YA and I actually like a douche turned swoon worthy heroes, so yep. I’m signing in hehe

    • I hope you enjoy it, Vanessa. I’m all over celebrity romances but they are usually a miss for me. It’s a fine line of believable and not, and celebrity romances toe that line. I felt like these two author did an amazing job straddling the line without going over it. 🙂

  2. I heard about the author but I didn’t know about this one. I think I would love to try! it looks good!

    • It was a great book. If you couldn’t tell my my review and rating that I loved it. LoL 😉 Their Paper Princess series is fun, but way too over the top and soap opera-y for me. They are more of a guilty pleasure for a scandalizing fun read. I kind of went into When It’s Real expecting something along those lines (since that’s all I know from them) but this was really well written.

  3. I honestly haven’t read that many celebrity romances, but I liked the ones I came across and I have to agree, there’s always that little something about fake relationships turning real that makes for (usually) an interesting read 🙂 I’m happy to hear this was such a great one for you!

  4. I really like it when a character changes for the better. This sounds great.

    • Me, too. Especially when the author does it in a way that it a slow progress or seems natural to the character and isn’t just the writer flipping a switch in order for the readers to like the character more.

  5. I’ve only read one celebrity romance but after that I’ve been dying to read another one. I’m so in to reading When It’s Real. I know these types of books can be a little cliche or unrealistic but I don’t care. Loved that you loved this! Thanks for letting me know about this one.

  6. bookwormbrandee on 7 March, 2018 at 5:32 am said:

    This sounds awesome! I love fake romance to real romance and the celebrity mixed in is the cherry on top! Oakley seems to do a lot of growing and I love that in stories too. I’ve yet to read Watt but I’m thinking I better hop to it!

    • This is a great book to start with if you are going to read their work. The Paper Princess series is a bit dramatic and over the top. It reminds me of a soap opera. Still a really good read, but I obviously loved this one so… 😉

Jump in on the discussion: click on the notify button below to follow along

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Post Navigation