Smitten (Unlucky Break) – Kate Forster
This is the first in an upcoming crossover YA/New Adult series from Hardie Grant called Smitten. They’re described as being an antidote to the many (many) paranormal heart-throbs clogging up our shelves at the moment, and as light, fun, reads with lots of pining and a happily ever after. Here’s how I found the first Smitten book, Unlucky Break:
Andi’s not having the best time. Her Dad was never in the picture, and her Mum’s just died. Her Mum never gave up fighting, but this meant that she refused to make plans for Andi, leaving her effectively stranded, with no family in Australia and very few options. Oh, yeah – and she just caught her long-term boyfriend with her best friend. So, not a great month.
When Hollywood’s darling and Andi’s estranged aunt, Cece Powers, offers her a home in LA, Andi’s mostly just relieved to have somewhere to go, even if she has no idea what she’ll do with herself once she’s there. Transplanted into the bright lights and huge city, she’ll have to learn to navigate life amongst celebrities, paparazzi and people with far too much money. She’ll also have to figure out what she wants to do and the kind of person she wants to be. It’s time to grow up – and it might also be time to fall in love.
This book was adorable. It was a perfect mix of fluffy and dramatic, with longing looks and past hurts, a faux pas or three, a lot of misunderstandings, flirting, friendship, trust broken and rebuilt and a very happy curtain call for all involved.
Andi was a fairly standard main character – she’s been forced to grow up too fast by circumstances: looking after her mother as she faded, and immediately being confronted with the secondary horror of a boyfriend and best friend’s betrayal. She’s a little bit lost and a lot hurt when we first meet her. LA and Aunt Cece are nothing like home. But they also offer new hope. Andi’s not sure if she wants to be here – but then, she doesn’t really want to be anywhere, any more, so why not Hollywood. Her development through the book was well handled, not smooth and not instantaneous, with a measure of realism.
We’re very quickly introduced to the potential love interest: a super sexy, surprisingly smart, and (of course) famous movie star who has a bunch of personal baggage and provides a really good match to Andi intellectually and in terms of chemistry. We also meet Andi’s future best friend, Jess, who lives next door to Andi and Cece. A ball of energy, Jess is a former child star who’s spent her life in a Hollywood-shaped bubble and is desperately trying to figure out what’s next. These two have a fabulous rapport, they challenge each other and support each other in equal measure.
The novel follows a well-worn path of hardship and missed connections eventually giving way to redemption and happiness, but in a really lovely way. I raced through this one, as at only 280 pages it is a light read indeed, and came away with that feeling you get after watching a great teen chick flick: contentment and optimism.
Perfect reading for teens and any young adults looking to escape into a safe place where hearts mend, fortune reigns and everything will be okay in the end.
Have you read any nostalgic, safe YA recently? Who are your favourite authors to turn to for this?