“Who knew that pretending you’re not falling for someone would be so much more difficult than pretending that you are?”
Stephanie Kendrick gave up her whole summer to ace her NYU film school screenwriting course, so she’s pissed to be stuck with a preppy, spoiled frat boy as her writing partner. Then again, with her piercings, black-rimmed eyes, and Goth wardrobe, Stephanie isn’t exactly Ethan Price’s type, either. He’s probably got his eye on some leggy blonde with a trust fund . . . or does he?
As the summer scene kicks off in the Hamptons, Ethan is desperate to make his snobbish mother forget the pedigreed girl who broke his heart. While Stephanie’s a stretch as a decoy, the right makeover and a pastel cardigan just might do the trick. She may not love the idea of playing Ethan’s brainless Barbie girlfriend, but the free rent and luxurious digs make a tempting offer. So does the promise of a ready-made screenplay idea inspired by their charade.
But when Stephanie steps into Ethan’s privileged world, the “acting” begins to feel all too real. The kissing and touching that were intended to fool the Hamptons crowd wind up manipulating them. And Stephanie faces a question she’s too afraid to ask: Is Ethan falling for the real her or for the dolled-up princess he wants to see?
Praise for Isn’t She Lovely
“Fresh and authentic, Lauren Layne’s Isn’t She Lovely packs intelligence, wit, and an addictive romance into one fantastic read! I loved the bold characters, the slow-building yet steamy romance, and the raw and painful edge of self-discovery. I couldn’t put it down!”—New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack
Lauren Layne’s New York Times bestselling Oxford Novel series can be read in any order:
I WISH YOU WERE MINE
SOMEONE LIKE YOU
I KNEW YOU WERE TROUBLE
I THINK I LOVE YOU
Don’t miss any of Lauren Layne’s hot reads:
The Love Unexpectedly series: BLURRED LINES | GOOD GIRL | LOVE STORY | WALK OF SHAME | AN EX FOR CHRISTMAS
The Sex, Love & Stiletto series: AFTER THE KISS | LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH | JUST ONE NIGHT | THE TROUBLE WITH LOVE
The Redemption series: ISN’T SHE LOVELY | BROKEN | CRUSHED
The I Do, I Don’t series: READY TO RUN | RUNAWAY GROOM
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
My mom always used to tell me that I wouldn’t really know myself until I turned thirty. I’m pretty sure that’s crap.
I’m twenty-one, and I already have a pretty good list of things I know about myself. The smell of roses makes me nauseous, I look sallow in green, small talk makes me queasy, and I’ve got a thing for old movies.
Oh, and I hate being late.
But it must be some sort of cosmic requirement that on the first day of a new semester you’ll sleep through your alarm, misplace your backpack, and naturally the subway will be running way behind schedule.
Not that being late to my Classic Film Narratives class is something to get worked up about, since it’s just an elective, but it’s like I said: I hate being late.
On the plus side, I’ve been at NYU for three years now and know my way around campus. At least I’m not lost, on top of having to do that awkward boob-jiggling half-run/half-walk thing as I make my way toward the classroom.
I’m digging around in my ancient black backpack for a granola bar since I skipped breakfast when I run smack into a wall of, well . . . beefcake, for a lack of a better word.
I’ve never done the whole round-the-corner-run-into-someone thing, but I always imagined it happening kind of slo-mo.
It’s more of a split-second flash of surprise and teeth-jolting discomfort followed by stinging humiliation.
I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that my shit’s now all over the ground or the fact that I’m gaping at the guy I just slammed into. He’s obnoxiously good-looking in a clean-cut, star-quarterback kind of way. Dark blond hair, strong chin, golden brown eyes, and yummy shoulders . . .
Totally not my type. I prefer the wiry artist type with soulful eyes. But still, he’s pretty if you like ’em tall, muscly, and hair-gelled.
Instead of apologizing like a good little plastic doll, he lets out the smallest of sighs, like he’s the one inconvenienced, even though he’s not the one who has tampons and notebooks scattered all over the floor.
“Awesome,” I mutter, bending down to pick up the mess.
He leans down at the same moment and I jerk my head back to avoid bumping skulls like in a B-movie scene. Unfortunately, my movement causes my chest to thrust up toward his face, and we both leap back just in time to avoid him face-planting into my boobs. Basically I just replaced a slightly awkward moment with the motherlode of awkwardness. Could this day get any better?
“Sorry ’bout that,” Pretty Boy says with a crooked grin. I don’t know whether he’s apologizing for our initial collision or for the humiliating near-miss of an inadvertent motorboat situation. Since he looks like he’s ready to bust out laughing, I’m pretty sure it’s the latter.
I keep my eyes locked on the mess of books and papers, because my face feels like it’s on fire. Of course I had to go with a skimpy tank top today. I’m not usually one to show a lot of skin, but it’s blazing hot, with the humidity at like 400 percent, and my usual collection of dark T-shirts seemed oppressive.
This is what I get for being practical.
The guy starts to help me gather my stuff, and I discreetly study him. His crisp white polo shirt and wrinkle-free plaid shorts are majorly out of place in the Tisch School of the Arts. Most of the students in my program look more like me: dark hair, dark clothes, three more swipes of eyeliner than necessary.
My eyes lock on his espresso-colored messenger bag, where there’s a discreet Prada logo.
“Are you lost or something?” I blurt out.
The guy gives a little laugh. “Just because I don’t come barreling around corners doesn’t mean I’m lost.”
“I wasn’t barreling,” I snap. “I’m just in a hurry.”
He picks up a tampon and hands it to me with an innocent smile. I try to look unfazed as I grab it and stuff it into the bottom of my bag. Really, of all the things to pick up, he goes for that one?
I snatch up the rest of my things and jam them into the bag, standing as I yank the zipper closed. “Whatever. I just thought I could point you in the right direction.”
“I’ll be a senior starting in September. I know my way around the campus,” he says, standing to tower over me.
“A senior here?” I gape. “Because you look like you walked off a Harvard admissions brochure.”
He raises an eyebrow that’s a couple of shades darker than his blond hair. “Stereotype much?”
I don’t even know why I’m engaging in an argument with the guy, but there’s something smug about him, and all that tidy perfection bugs the crap out of me. I prefer my dudes real, and this one isn’t.
I sort of wave my hand up and down in his direction. “It’s just that I think you forgot to change out of your country-club uniform.”
He takes a tiny step closer to me, and I try to ignore the fact that he’s about a foot taller than me and has a perfect view down my shirt.
“Does the surly mood come with the goth outfit?” he asks, giving me a once-over. “Or do you have to buy it separately?”
I hold up a hand to shield my eyes. “Could you please watch where you’re pointing your teeth? The glare from your caps is hurting my eyes.”
He runs a tongue over his ridiculously white teeth, looking thoughtful. “You know, sometimes if I don’t have enough light to study by, I just smile and use the reflection from these pearly whites.”
It’s a lame comeback, but I roll my eyes and let him win the sparring contest. I’m over this ridiculous conversation, and I head toward my classroom, well aware that I’m now a full twenty minutes late.
“You’re not even going to say good-bye?” he calls after me. “I picked up your tampon!”
I give a dismissive flick of my hand over my head, not bothering to turn around.
I quickly find my classroom and brace myself for that awkward late-girl moment. The room is overly full considering that this is a summer elective course, but then I guess that’s to be expected when the professor has two Golden Globes and an Oscar under his belt.
And actually, the professor isn’t a professor at all, but the current darling of Hollywood screenwriting. Martin Holbrook graduated from NYU’s Tisch School like a hundred years ago, and he guest-lectures at his alma mater every now and then to throw some wisdom at the undergraduates.
Of course, this class isn’t my only reason for sticking around New York this summer. Hell, it’s not even my primary reason.
But it’s still pretty freaking cool to work with a guy who’s done the red carpet and all that. Most of my professors’ experience is limited to behind-the-camera indie stuff.
“Ms. Kendrick, I presume?” Martin Holbrook says as I try to slink unobtrusively along the side.
“Um, yeah,” I say as I slide into the first empty seat against the wall. “Sorry I’m late.”
But to my surprise, Mr. Holbrook doesn’t seem fazed by my late arrival. Neither am I getting the usual collegiate-judgment stare from my classmates.
Instead, they’re all staring at the toothpaste commercial standing in the doorway.
Oh, good God. I think for sure we’re dealing with a wrong-room scenario.
“Ethan, it’s good to see you again,” Martin Holbrook is saying.
Wait. What? What does Holbrook mean, again?
Instead of skulking along the wall like I did, Ethan ambles easily toward the empty row of desks where I’m sitting, looking completely unperturbed by the fact that everyone is staring at him.
I glare at him in a way that I hope coaxes him to put a couple of desks between us. Instead, he lets his hip brush against the edge of my desk, tossing my smashed granola bar on my lap as he passes.
“You dropped this,” he says with a wink.
Everyone is staring at us in confusion, and I don’t blame them. I look like the troubled girl parents warn their kids away from, and Ethan looks like the homecoming king. In no ecosystem should we even be acknowledging each other’s existence.
And yet we both came in late, practically together, and now he’s being all winky and you-dropped-this, making it seem like we actually know each other.
I catch the eye of Carrie Sinders, one of my closest friends at school, and she widens her eyes dramatically, as if to ask, What’s going on?
Good question, Carrie. Good freaking question.
The only good thing about the whole situation is that Martin Holbrook isn’t the prima donna I was fearing and doesn’t seem at all annoyed by the interruption. Probably because he played lacrosse with Pretty Boy Prada’s dad or something.
I pull out my notebook and a pen and try to focus on what Holbrook is saying when I feel a poke between my shoulder blades.
“Hey, Morticia, can I borrow a pen?”
I start to tell Ethan that I don’t have one, but of course he knows firsthand that I have about ten in my bag. I dig out a blue ballpoint and drop it onto his desk without looking at him. I don’t like people I can’t figure out, and his very presence in a place where he doesn’t seem to belong is unsettling.
That, and he smells good. Really good. Normally I hate dudes with cologne. But this is clean and sexy and smells kind of like summer in the Hamptons, and it’s more than a little distracting.
I shake it off and remind myself that I’m avoiding the male population in general since David. David, whose idea of cologne is deodorant.
“So everyone’s good?” Holbrook says. I panic a little because I haven’t been paying attention at all, and instead of there being notes to copy down, Holbrook has just written on the board a link to a website. I hurriedly scribble it in my notebook.
Luckily, there’s a total stoner in the back row who’s apparently as clueless as me, because he raises his hand in confusion. “Wait, so like . . . we just go online, pick out one of these common film narratives, and then write a screenplay based on one?”
Holbrook nods. “Pretty much. I’ll be here Tuesdays and Thursdays during the scheduled course time if you have questions or want to run something by me.”
I frown. Wait—we don’t actually have to come to class?
Normally this kind of freedom would be right up my alley, but I’ve kind of been counting on this course to keep me busy this summer. In previous summers I was able to stay on campus as long as I took a certain number of credits, but this year they’re repainting all the dorms, so on-campus housing isn’t available. Instead I’ll be subletting my cousin’s shoe-box-sized apartment in Queens, and I’m not sure she has Internet, much less air-conditioning. What am I going to do all summer?
Still . . . anything beats going home.
“Okay, unless there are more questions, I’ll connect you guys with your partners and you can be on your way.”
It takes my brain a second to absorb that.
I am not a group project kind of girl.
“I had my four-year-old daughter draw names out of a cereal bowl last night, so this is as random as it gets,” Martin was saying, pulling a small notebook out of his bag. “Aaron Billings? You’re with Kaitlin Shirr. Michael Pelinski, you’re with Taylor McCaid . . .”
The list goes on, and Carrie looks at me, holding up crossed fingers.
Oh, please, God, let me be with Carrie. I can tolerate that. Mostly.
“Stephanie Kendrick . . .”
Oh, please, oh, please . . .
“ . . . you’re with Ethan Price.”
My mind goes temporarily blank. Film students are a pretty tight-knit group, and I thought I knew everyone in the class.
Everyone except . . .
Pretty Boy must have put the pieces together too, because I feel another sharp poke between my shoulder blades.
“You hear that, Goth? Partners!”
I close my eyes. This can’t be happening.
Instead of the carefree, find-myself summer I envisioned, I’ll be spending the next three months with my own life-sized Ken doll.
And that isn’t even the worst of it.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A refreshingly sweet & funny New Adult Romance LAUREN LAYNE - ISN’T SHE LOVELY - 5 ¿¿¿¿¿ • 240 pages • release date - 28 October - 2013 • New Adult Romance MY THOUGHTS Stephanie is a film student in NYC - ever since she left her hometown, and all that happened there, she hides behind this tough Goth-persona. She wears black clothes, black boots, black nail polish. On her way to a summer screenwriting class she runs into Ethan - well, runs into - as in crashes into - Ethan. A pretty hot preppy-looking student. They start talking and insulting each other with the obvious prejudices about their looks. As it turns out they both were headed to the same class. And, they end up as partners for the summer screenwriting project. Ethan only took this class because he didn't want to intern at his Dad's firm again this summer - because he doesn't want to run into people who would remind him of a few horrible events he witnessed these last weeks. Like his girlfriend and his best friend having sex - with each other! Stephanie is kind of homeless for the summer - she needs a place to stay. She's moving in with Ethan, because they start their own little project within the school project. They decide to write their own version of the Pygmalion theme. The Pretty Woman - She's All That kind of thing where a guy 'creates' a woman he then falls in love with. Ethan wants Stephanie to pose as his girlfriend. After he makes her get a make-over, of course. No goth on Park Avenue! He wants his mom to stop wanting to get him back together with his ex Olivia. And he thinks Stephanie is the perfect choice, because he and she SO don't fit together. There's no danger of them falling in love for real. At least he thinks so at first, but there are lots of sparks flying between those two. Will there be a fairy tale ending for Stephanie and Ethan? Or does he only use her to get back at his ex? I'm not telling you, of course ¿ I don't want to spoil your reading pleasure ¿ ♥ but YES - of course there will be a HAPPY END ♥ ____________________________________________________________ I ENJOYED THE BOOK A LOT I REALLY LOVED IT! I couldn't stop reading - I finished it in one afternoon. It was sooo funny and cute and romantic and moving. Ethan is sooo cute - he seems to be this superficial Wasp-ish Park Avenue/Hampton's boy - but he's much deeper than that. He has lots of pain stuffed deep inside and only with Stephanie he can finally start to open up. And Stephanie - this tough goth girl ¿ She's just a cute sad and broken Cheerleader deep inside. She never talked with anybody about what happened back home. But she trusts Ethan. Those 2 are sooo adorable together - so funny!!! They want each other, but they know that it doesn't seem possible for such different personas to end up together... but on the way to their HEA - there are MOMENTS - pheww - sexy kissing moments ♥ The only thing I didn't like about it?? IT WAS TOO SHORT!! I would've loved to read a real full length novel with lots more details and maybe lots more erotic scenes ;) - it wasn't a novella or anything really short - but I would've loved to spend more time with Ethan and Stephanie :) If you like fresh, sweet and funny Romances - this is the book for you!!! GO GET IT! ¿
Still up at 3am on a work day finishing this book! It was worth it.
I received this book from the publisher, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The story could be slightly predictable, but the reader can't help but enjoy the banter. I actually really enjoyed this book. It had everything I look for in books: romance, humor, swoon-worthy-ness, and the characters. Just perfect characters. Stephanie Kendrick reminded myself in many ways and it was refreshing. She would wear dark clothes and colours, and always wore combat boots. When Ethan meets her, they despise each other. Then he proposes an offer to Stephanie that she can't refuse. The story line was similar to books and movies I've read/seen before. I liked knowing the story. And even though the story could be slightly predictable, the reader can't help but enjoy the banter between Ethan and Stephanie. Stephanie was a strong and guarded character. She had her reasons for being the way she was and we learn of them as the story goes on. I'm not gonna lie, the story dragged on in some of her scenes because her life story could be so predictable. It seemed that, while reading, I'd already read this and knew exactly why she was guarded before we even got a hint of it. Ethan was more open, golden-boy type. However, don't let his image fool you, he could be pretty bad-ass especially in the end. That made me bust out laughing (fellow readers, you know what I'm talking about). The story could drag on slightly in the beginning, but once the reader gets into the story, you simply can't put the story down. The story sort of calls to you, not letting you get one thing done. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy New Adult romance and humor filled story lines. Rating: 6.7/10 Parental Rating: 16+
I COULD NOT PUT THIS DOWN!!! Perfect love story! I wish there was a sequel because I completely fell in love with these characters and their story! You won't regret buying this book. Worth every penny!!
I normally don't read romance but this book kept me reading because I had to know how it ended. I loved the aspect of reading both characters perspectives. Great book!!!
Absolutely love couldn't put it down, finished in two days!!
## I enjoyed this book. The story was fun and the snappy dialogue was refreshing. It took a long time to get the hero and heroine together but it was worth it. They had a great connection. I laughed out loud several times and even teared up a few times. The only reason I rated this book only 4 stars is because I thought the hero was overly harsh with the insults and I felt the heroine let him off the hook too easily after all the crappy things he says to her. Will read again.
One of the best stories I've read in a long time! Full of heart, humor and fun.
I am willing to f*** you. And trust me i will do it hard
This is definitely a book that was hard to put down. I practically completed it in one sitting. The main characters were scarred but had a lot to offer each other. The story was edgy, raw, and humorous. I enjoyed it! LA-TXNn.
He carries katie to his room. He lays her on his bed. "This'll be fun."
Amazing! I loved it.
Worth the $and time.
Great book same but different
Ms. Layne is exceptionally gifted with dialog. I loved the easy banter between the two characters. While the story line was recycled, it was a refreshing take. I zipped through the book and wished it was longer, but definitely worth the money.
I started reading this book while I was on the phone enjoying one of those indefinite holds that we all know and hate. When I got to the quote below, I started laughing out loud and, of course, that is when they took me off of hold. As a result, my insurance company now thinks I’m crazy. This really isn’t an original story, just a re-imagining similar to Grease. However, the writing style and sarcastic banter make up for the lack of originality. The narrative was so entertaining that I wanted to highlight and quote everything. All of the little nicknames that Ethan had for Stephanie cracked me up. It’s not just dry wit and sarcastic humor, there are surprisingly flowery descriptions. Towards the middle of the book, things got a little too slow for my taste. The banter stopped being able to carry the story and, to be honest, I almost stopped reading. All in all, I’m not sorry I read this book because there are some great quotes. But I knew what was going to happen nearly every step of the way so it was hard to stay interested. As reviewed on KayFrayBooks
This was a great story but i had to skip over 2 of the chaptrs because of sex.
I loved this book! I was laughing so much, my kids thought I was crazy! Ethan and Stephanies' inner dialogs in the story were just great. Not to mention their love story was quite cute. I rooted fir them through the whole book! Thank you for such refreshing caracters!
Overall not a bad story but got annoyed with the relationship and pace it developed. The last bit of the book didn't do it for me either
Laughed out loud through the 1st half of the book. Funny read.