One True Pairing by Cathy Yardley
Series: Fandom Hearts #2
Also in this series: Level Up
Publication Date: July 25th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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They couldn't be more opposite, the Hollywood actor and the hometown girl, but all they need is a little convention magic to become the perfect ship in Cathy Yardley's One True Pairing.
Jake Reese needs a decoy girlfriend. Fast. The lead actor of the popular TV show, Mystics, is tired of losing his shirt to overeager fans. Literally. Which is why a chance meeting with gothabilly bookworm-slash-barista Hailey Frost seems almost too perfect to be true. Hailey is not impressed with his TV fame and is desperate to save her family's bookstore. It's a match made in Hollywood, but as the two pretend to date, fan fiction becomes reality. Can this OTP become canon?
I was absolutely charmed by Cathy Yardley’s Level Up when I read it last year, so I was beyond excited that her series was picked up by a major publisher and that there was a new book coming out. I didn’t love One True Pairing as much as Level Up, but I had a great time reading it.
In Level Up, we met the sisters running the failing bookstore, and this book focuses on one of those sisters, Hailey Frost. The sisters are barely keeping their head above water, and Hailey is hustling in every way she can to keep the bookstore open, mostly so that her agoraphobic sister Cressida won’t be forced to move. If you read Level Up, you’ll remember that the women all love a show called Mystics, which is frequently compared to the real-life show Supernatural. Jake Reese is an actor on the show, and when Hailey meets him by chance, she concocts a plan to get his help to give the store publicity. Jake needs Hailey’s help, too. He is worried his contract for Mystics won’t be renewed, and his agent suggests that getting himself out there more would help. Hailey offers to help him increase his popularity if he helps her save the bookstore. Of course, things don’t go as smoothly as either one expects, and both of them have to figure out how to overcome their fears to move forward.
Hailey is a great character. She’s tough and totally devoted to her sisters, but she’s put her own needs aside for years in an effort to take care of them. Unlike so many romance characters, Hailey lives paycheck to paycheck. She worries about money, about healthcare, about what to do when she loses a job. It’s kind of refreshing to read! She is absolutely, totally terrified of relationships, however, and when she starts having feelings for Jake it freaks her out. Jake, though, is my favorite. He is an absolute sweetheart, and I loved that he was so ready to be the kind of partner Hailey needed. I really enjoyed reading about the conflict with his dad as well. His dad was a major Hollywood star, and he had a lot of expectations for how his son’s career should go. You can tell Jake has tried so hard to do what his dad wanted because he just wanted his dad’s love. In reality, though, Jake was just a nice, geeky guy who enjoyed being on Mystics because it was fun and fulfilling, and he needed to give up trying to meet his dad’s expectations of fame and stardom. I wanted to give him a giant hug.
For the most part, the conflicts in the book are realistic. Jake is wary at first about Hailey’s motives, as he should be. In fact, she really IS using him, and I didn’t love that. She wants him to promote her bookstore, and I couldn’t help feeling a little bad that while Jake genuinely wants to get to know her, she wants something else from him. Of course, she is helping him with his PR problems too so it’s not all one-sided, but Jake was such a sweetie that I felt a little protective of him! Because Jake is a genuinely nice guy, the time where he punches someone felt extremely out of character for him, and I thought it was an unnecessary inclusion. Jake could have handled the situation in a million other ways. Still, it was a small blip in an otherwise consistent story.
While I think everyone should read Level Up because it’s so great, you don’t have to read it to enjoy One True Pairing. It’s a smart, modern story and I loved it.
Grade: 4 out of 5