Last summer Brendan Halpin and Trish Cook's funny, self-aware characters made me fall in love with Notes from the Blender. I've been on the lookout for more of the same ever since. Enter a 99 cent Kindle ebook sale, Halpin teamed with Emily Franklin, and I found myself reading a book with a very PINK cover (something I wouldn't be caught dead with in real life) on my iPhone. Result? I spent a contented evening curled up on the couch with Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance. Totally worth my one dollar investment.
Fans of romance don't need to look any further than the fauxmance brewing between teen idols Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers-known on their hit TV show as Jenna and Jonah, next-door neighbors flush with the excitement of first love. But it's their off-screen relationship that has helped cement their fame, as passionate fans follow their every PDA. They grace the covers of magazines week after week. Their fan club has chapters all over the country.
The only problem is their off-screen romance is one big publicity stunt, and Charlie and Fielding can't stand to be in the same room. Still, it's a great gig, so even when the cameras stop rolling, the show must go on, and on, and on…Until the pesky paparazzi blow their cover, and Charlie and Fielding must disappear to weather the media storm. It's not until they're far off the grid of the Hollywood circuit that they realize that there's more to each of them than shiny hair and a winning smile.
Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance takes a cliché and makes something fun and funny out of it. Character development and relationship tension are the order of the day, though it is fairly obvious where the characters will end up. The book's plot is, in part, homage to Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, and the titular protagonists are meant to be Benedick & Beatrice. This injection of the Bard seemed to come out of left field, but in the end that part of it worked – and it should get the curious to at least look up the film version with a young Denzel, which would be a VERY GOOD LIFE CHOICE (in case you were wondering).
The dialogue and banter between Charlie and Fielding was strong throughout, but the plot seemed to lack substance, especially when it came to explaining Fielding's past, Charlie's anxiety, and the whole 'set-up' involved in creating a fauxmance. While this didn't detract from the book's compulsive readability, it did make for awkward segues in the text, and after finishing the novel I still had some questions unanswered (and not of the cliffhanger variety, mind you).
In all, Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance is a light-hearted read with enough charm to carry it safely past the shoals of mediocre YA contemporary.
Recommended for: those who enjoy YA contemporary with a generous helping of romance, fans of Claire LaZebnik's Epic Fail, Halpin and Cook's Notes from the Blender, and anyone in the mood for a romp set in Hollywood (genuine fun included).
NOTE: If you'd like to win a copy of Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance, enter the giveaway!