Friday, May 30, 2014

The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
Release Date - May 20, 2014
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 384 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they're sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few "dates", it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What's a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you're meant to be with if you're still figuring out the person you're meant to be?
Authors who have the ability to write in multiple genres always impress me. Paula Stokes proves that she can move easily from historical mystery to contemporary with the delightful The Art of Lainey. It's a novel that is fun, humourous, and filled with heart.

Lainey is a complex character. She's not someone I would be friends with when we first meet her. She's judgmental, and a little selfish. I, sadly, predict many will find her 'unlikeable'. Lainey, for all her faults, is something more than that though. She's a character that you understand. Her motivations, her intentions, and even WHO she is (even at the beginning) are not only recognizable, but all too real. We know people like Lainey. Perhaps have even been friends with people like Lainey. Paula Stokes uses her flaws to allow for a stunning transformation that happens slowly, and realistically.

Plenty of gushing will be had of the romance, and more specifically Micah. All of it totally deserved but, in my opinion, the bright spot of the novel is Lainey herself. Her character growth and transformation is the heart of the story. It's what makes you want the romance. It is what makes you want to keep reading. She changes, and it's a joy to read. Her progression and eventual self awareness are what, in my opinion, make this story.

The secondary characters provide the necessary plot progression but there is one worth noting. Bianca, Lainey's best friend. This friendship is one of the best I've come across in a really long time. Bianca's unwavering support, and gentle nature contrast with Lainey. Through Bianca we get to see Lainey's growth all the more clearly. The ups and downs of the friendship only serve to strengthen the bond that these two young women have. I wish more novels would showcase friendships like this. Ones free of the typical cliche ridden drama so often found plaguing them. While they do sometimes hurt each other, there is no willful maliciousness. The message of finding who is truly important, and not taking them for granted is speckled throughout the novel, and it's even woven into this friendship. With all that said, Bianca is basically one of the best 'side kick best friends' I've had the pleasure to read about.

Micah, and the romance itself, are both very adorable and swoon worthy (as previously mentioned). Love should let you grow, and introduce you to new things. It shouldn't define you, but rather help you see new things about yourself that you never knew were there. Micah and Lainey both challenge each other to go outside their comfort zone. They broaden each other's experiences, and help them find out who they truly are. Lainey's someone that has always defined herself through her friendships and relationships. Micah helps her see that there is someone she'd been ignoring along the way - herself.

The Art of Lainey won me over with it's charm, heart, and it's sweet, almost John Hughes like nostalgia. It's a read that left me smiling and giddy. It's a perfect read when you need cheering up, and I recommend it for anyone who loves cute contemporaries with a little more character development.

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