Synopsis from Good Reads:
Eric Matua has one friend—his best friend and childhood sweetheart, who needs a place to stay for the summer. Mia Johnson has thousands of friends—who live in her computer. Along with her email chats and Facebook notifications, Mia also devours romance novels, spending countless hours with fictional characters, dreaming of her own Romeo to sweep her off her feet. When she starts receiving supersweet messages from a stranger who thinks she’s someone else, Mia begins to believe that real love is possible outside her virtual world.
When the two friends become roommates, Mia finds herself falling harder than she ever thought she could. But Eric keeps his desires locked away, unsure of himself and his ability to give his best friend what she deserves in a boyfriend. As her advances are continually spurned, Mia splits her time between Eric and her computer. But she soon realizes she’s about to lose the only real thing she’s ever had.
I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.
I’ve read two Cassie Mae books before and thought one was pretty cute (Switched!) and one was pretty ridiculous (we don’t need to get into that one). When I saw this book I wanted to give her another try since I enjoy the best-friend-becomes-more trope, if done properly. I’m pleased to say that I did really enjoy The Real Thing.
Before this book I read another one that also employed the best-friend-becomes-more trope and it didn’t really at all work for me. I think one of the biggest differences between the previous book and this book (where it does works) is that in The Real Thing Eric and Mia are friends that have an attraction for the other, where the previous couple were friends that were already in love, but not admitting it to each other. And even though we know Eric and Mia will end up together, there’s still a lot more build up and tension in their relationship throughout the story.
I also enjoyed the bit of role reversal that deviates from the usual NA. Mia is confident and knows what she wants. She’s neither trampy nor innocent. That’s not to say she isn’t without her problems. She’s addicted to the internet and her phone to an unhealthy degree. While I thought this was a bit over the top, I’m sure there are many people out there that could totally relate to that.
Then there’s Eric. He’s insecure about his weight, has anxiety attacks, and doesn’t like to be touched. I can not even tell you how much I related to him! I thought Mae did a great job of realistically portraying what it’s like to live with anxiety. I also think she handled the treatment of it much better than most books that have anxiety prone characters. Eric has coping techniques, family support, therapy, and medication.
My only real complaint with the book is all the sexual content, though it seems to be a requirement for the NA genre. Mia seemed way more interested in moving their relationship ahead physically than in really getting to know Eric. I get that they’re best friends and know a lot about each other, but they’ve been apart for three years and there’s obviously a lot more they need to find out about each other. It was, however, not as graphic as a lot of other books of this genre are.
Overall, I enjoyed The Real Thing. The characters were mostly very relatable and likable. I especially appreciated the way Eric’s anxiety was portrayed and handled. I would recommend this book to fans of NA, especially to those who are looking for something a little different than the normal NA plotlines.
Rating (out of 5):
Overall Rating: 3.625 Stars