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Like with her debut, The Best Laid Plans, which was one of my favorite books last year, I couldn’t put Heartbreakers and Fakers down. With such a fresh, delightful, and earnest voice, Cameron Lund is one of my favorite (maybe even my favorite?) YA authors.
I’m going to need Cameron Lund to keep writing books for the rest of time, I’m addicted to them. There’s a cinematic quality to her books that makes you feel like you’re not just reading a story, but you’re also watching one of your favorite 90s/early aughts rom-coms play out on screen. I can’t quite describe it, but I’ve felt this while reading both of her books now—that warm feeling you get, the butterflies in your stomach, when you’re watching movies like She’s All That, 10 Things I Hate About You, or Clueless. With both The Best Laid Plans and Heartbreakers and Fakers, Lund has captured that magic in a bottle.
Heartbreakers is a delightful YA rom-com with enemies-to-lovers, fake dating, and lots of tension-filled moments and banter. After drunkenly kissing her best friend’s (Olivia) boyfriend (Kai) at her own boyfriend’s (Jordan) party, Penny Harris wakes up the morning after the party to find herself the new pariah of her friend group. Penny can’t, for the life of her, figure out why she would have kissed Kai—she loves Jordan and she’d never dream of hurting Olivia. Also, there’s the whole matter of Kai being her worst enemy. When Jordan and Olivia get together, Penny and Kai hatch a plan to earn their friends’ forgiveness and win back their respective exes: pretend they’re in love.
Although I couldn’t relate to Penny insofar as I was neither popular in high school nor part of any elaborate fake-dating schemes, I could relate to Penny’s insecurities and struggles about her sense of self and sense of worth being tied to her friend group. Penny’s willingness to overlook Olivia’s cruelty and eagerness to stay in her orbit was painfully realistic, and this book was as much a fun romance as it was a story about Penny figuring out who she was outside of her friendship with Olivia. With Penny, Lund perfectly captured the stomach-churning insecurity that has made so many of us accept love beneath what we deserve all in the name of being accepted.
I would have liked to see more about Olivia and Kai (and Olivia and Jordan, for that matter). As it was, I was a bit confused by his relationship with and loyalty to Olivia because it felt somewhat inconsistent with his character. I think the story would have benefited from exploring that more and from a dual-perspective narrative. As much as I loved Penny’s voice, I would’ve enjoyed reading Kai’s perspective, at least as far as his relationship with Olivia and some of his motivations were concerned. For those reasons, Heartbreakers fell a bit short of The Best Laid Plans for me.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has not impacted or influenced my opinions.