4 star, YA

Review: Heartbreakers and Fakers by Cameron Lund

From the author of The Best Laid Plans comes another fresh voiced, hilarious rom-com perfect for fans of Tweet Cute and The Rest of the Story.

Penny Harris just ruined her life.

As one of the most popular girls in school, she’s used to being invited to every party, is dating the Jordan Parker, and can’t wait to rule senior year with her best friend, Olivia. But when Penny wakes up on Jordan’s lawn the morning after his first-day-of-summer bash, she knows something went terribly wrong the night before.

She kissed Kai Tanaka.

Kai, her long-time nemesis. Kai, Olivia’s boyfriend. Penny can’t figure out what could have inspired her to do it–she loves Jordan and she would never hurt Olivia–but one thing’s for sure: freshly dumped, and out a best friend, the idyllic summer she pictured is over.

And despite the fact that Jordan seems to be seeking comfort (and a whole lot more) in Olivia, all Penny can think about is winning him back. Kai wants to save his relationship too, so they come up with a plan: convince their friends that they really do have feelings for each other. After all, no one can resist a good love story, and maybe seeing Penny and Kai together will make Jordan and Olivia change their minds.

But as summer heats up, so does Penny and Kai’s “relationship,” and Penny starts to question whether she’s truly faking it with Kai, if he’s really as terrible as she always thought he was, and if the life she’s fighting so hard to get back is the one she really wants.

In her second novel to date, Cameron Lund has shown me that her romances can do this girl no wrong. Hearbreakers and Fakers is the perfect combination of the fake dating trope PLUS enemies to lovers. After a night she can barely remember, Penny wakes up in the morning realizing she not only lost her boyfriend but also her best friend when she was caught drunkenly kissing her best friend’s boyfriend. Which happens to be her nemesis Kai Tanaka.

Wanting to save their reputations and potentially make their now-exes jealous enough to want them back – since apparently they found comfort in their respective betrayals in EACH OTHER’S arms – Penny and Kai agree to fake date (because that of course would only lead to less complications, right?).

I mean, does it get any crazier of a set up than that? This book had me at fake date, let’s be honest.

I know enemies to lovers is the most commonly loved romance trope and it certainly was done well here. It’s like you can feel the chemistry in the air between Kai and Penny. She had always disliked him when it seemed he chose to befriend everyone else over her shy self in grade school. And then gave her a horrible nickname that decided to stick for the next several years.

Yet, their mutual friend group always teasingly shipped them together. You can feel that this “hate” between them very much bordered intrigue and it felt so real for this little stunt they pulled to give them the time and space to get to know one another better.

I loved the take on friendship which is super important here. Penny cared about Olivia but maybe their friendship was more superficial than not when Olivia was the it girl who saved Penny from the social outcasts in eighth grade for less than compassionate reasons. While the story does focus on Penny’s yearning to get Jordan back, the boy she had endlessly crushed on for years, it also explores Penny’s self worth and the versions of herself she created to keep the group of friends she wanted. More importantly, it tackles how she, like any of us, may deal with problems: by running away or dealing with it straight on?

But back to the romance! Kai was a solid romantic interest. I loved that he was Japanese from Hawaii that didn’t feel like the token Asian character to throw out there. The book doesn’t focus too much on his culture and heritage but it doesn’t just feel like “hey, let’s ensure there’s some diversity in here” either. He and Penny had solid conversations that showed they were more alike underneath than they gave themselves credit for.

Meanwhile, I felt for Penny as she struggled to reconcile the feelings she thought she had with Jordan and the feelings that were surging for Kai, someone she did not want to like that way. I just really liked how Cameron organically put them together (with some added drama thrown in with Olivia, of course), but the only reason this isn’t a 5-star review is because I wanted a little bit more time with those two after they came to a decision – for real – about what a relationship between them would be.

With a cute romance that had chemistry flying through the air as this fake couple grew some real feelings, this book was the perfect end of summer read, and Cameron Lund is becoming an auto-buy author for me.

Overall Recommendation:

Heartbreakers and Fakers is a stellar read that combines fake dating with an enemies to lovers romance. Trying to save their broken relationships, Kai and Penny agree to fake date to make their exes jealous although they cannot stand one another’s personalities. But with more time and opportunity bringing them together, this odd pairing might just realize their connection is more real than anything they had before. I loved the chemistry between them, and their history throughout the years that tore them apart but may be what brings them back together. Cameron Lund is a great YA contemporary romance author and I can’t wait to see more from her.


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