On Feb 16, I did a column for CBC about New Adult Fiction, a category of fiction which targets the 18-25 age bracket and tends to be slightly more sexually explicit than a YA novel, but nowhere near as pornographic as Fifty Shades of Grey. I’d only read a couple of books that I would consider New Adult before I did the column, one I liked (Easy), and one I did not (Ten Tiny Breaths). Cora Carmack’s NA novel, Faking It, falls into the latter category.
First we meet Cade. He’s pining over Bliss. (Yes, all the names are this bad.) Although they never actually dated she’s Cade’s best friend and Cade feels as though Bliss is the one that got away. Every time he sees her with her new boyfriend, Garrick (told you), it feels “like a rusty eggbeater to the heart.”
He’s meeting them for coffee when the novel opens. Apparently, he’s a sucker for punishment. It’s at this meeting that Garrick tells Cade that he’s going to propose and Cade’s world falls apart.
Enter Max. And her boyfriend…wait for it…Mace. They enter the very same café where Cade has just had his heart broken. Max is on her cell phone and she’s just discovered that her parents are not calling from Oklahoma, but from across town; they’ve made an impromptu visit and that puts Max in a bind. She has to come up with a suitable boyfriend, someone to make her look sensible and subdued, when clearly she is anything but. I mean, she has red hair! And tattoos! And piercings!!! Mace, despite being “gorgeous and a killer drum player” is not mom and dad boyfriend material. Max gets rid of Mace (not all that difficult all Max has to do is mention “parents” and Mace departs). That just leaves the problem of what to do about the boyfriend. That’s when she spots Cade. Despite the fact that he was “gorgeous, in that all-American model kind of way” Max normally wouldn’t have given him a second glance “because guys like that don’t go for girls like” Max. Thing is, he’s staring right at her.
Faking It is told in alternating first person narratives, so we get Cade’s point of view and then Max’s. That’s how we know that Cade has been watching her and how we know that he thinks she’s “bright.”(Her personality/aura/looks, not her IQ.) He also notices “no real connection between [Max and Mace].” When her eyes meet his it makes Cade’s “mouth go dry and stirred something in [his] chest. Stirred up other things, too.” Um, wait a minute, didn’t you just have your heart-broken by that girl, Bliss, like five minutes ago? We’re only on page 20!
I am all about the slow burn and Faking It doesn’t seem to care about that. There’s an instant attraction between Cade and Max and soon they are bantering like Tracy and Hepburn, like with nicknames and everything. He agrees to be her date to Thanksgiving dinner and has no trouble playing the part of devoted boyfriend. In fact, he plays the part so well that Max’s parents invite him to Oklahoma for Christmas. Oh, what a tangled web.
Cora Carmack is a very popular, best-selling author and I have no doubt that for its intended audience Faking It hit all the right notes. For me, though, everything happened way too fast and the over-the-top reactions to relatively minor obstacles and set-backs were just too much. I guess in that respect Faking It perfectly captures the drama of youth.
One more note: it’s biceps, people, even just in the one arm. Geesh.