ARC review: Love and Other Secrets by Christina Mandelski

Love and Other Secrets by Christina Mandelski
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: September 3, 2018
Source: ARC from publisher (via Netgalley)

Star lacrosse player Alex “Kov” Koviak has it all. Or so everyone thinks. He’s real good at pretending his life is perfect…until he meets Bailey. The girl challenges him and pushes him and makes him laugh like he’s never laughed before. Their friendship is their little secret, and he’s happy to keep her to himself.

Between school, two jobs, and trying to get into NYU film school, Bailey Banfield has zero time for a social life. But then she meets Alex in her express lane at the grocery store, and their secret friendship becomes the only place she can breathe. She refuses to complicate that with more. No matter how charming Alex can be.

When Bailey decides to film outrageous promposals for her NYU application, she enlists Alex’s help to plan an over-the-top, epic promposal to someone else. Too bad the only prom date Alex wants anywhere near Bailey is him.

For a guy who seems to have it all, he’s about to lose the only thing he’s ever wanted.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Crush contains a cocky lacrosse player in over his head with his secret best friend, unexpected midnight kisses, swoon-worthy slow dancing, and movie-night cuddling that’ll make you ache. You’re going to want an Alex of your own!

I really enjoyed The First Kiss Hypothesis when I read it last year, so I was pretty excited to be offered an ARC of Love and Other Secrets. And I’ll admit it — this book was pretty cute. I read it over about three hours and had a great time. So why three stars? It all comes down to my personal preferences.

Let me start with the characters. I loved Bailey. She was driven, determined, and just feisty enough without being over-the-top. I loved Alex. While he initially came off as a spoiled jock, he slowly revealed a softer side, especially when it came to Bailey. I loved their friendship! Please give me a friendship like this where we can watch movies together all the time. What I didn’t love was how they forgot how to communicate. I mean, you guys were friends, right? Presumably you’ve had a lot of conversations. One feeling gets involved and you forget how to speak? I don’t think so.

The other thing I want to talk about is the promposals. First of all, I have never seen the word “promposal” so many times in my life as I did in this book. I’m revealing my true self as an old woman when I say that 11 years ago when I attended my one and only prom, my friend just walked up to me and said, “Hey, Sara, do you want to be my prom date?” and that was that. Soooo romantic. If I’m remembering correctly, I think one girl’s car got covered in Post Its that all said “Prom?” but that was the extent of it at my tiny high school. Sometimes I’m glad that I’m old.

This is, when it comes down to it, a pretty cliche friends-to-lovers story. Misunderstandings abound, they’re afraid to talk about their feelings, nobody wants to make the first move, so on and so forth. There’s an unexpected midnight kiss (not a spoiler, it’s right there in the synopsis) and both characters stubbornly refuse to talk about it. I’m actually fine with cliches in my romances as long as it’s worth it in the end. The thing is, I’m not really sure that I bought that ending.

So, in the end, this was a fun book that was a good use of a few hours. I would happily recommend it to someone looking for a cute (but angsty) YA romance, but not for someone who’s looking for anything deeper than that.

Have you read Love and Other Secrets? Do you like your romances easy or angsty? Were/are elaborate promposals a thing at your school? Let’s talk in the comments!

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