My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This e-galley was provided by Netgalley and Spencer Hill Press in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Tomboy to the core, Toni Valentine understands guys. She’ll take horror movies, monster hunts and burping contests over manicures. So Toni is horrified when she’s sent to the Winston Academy for Girls, where she has to wear a skirt and learn to be a “”lady”” while the guys move on without her.
Then Toni meets Emma Elizabeth, a girl at school with boy troubles, and she volunteers one of her friends as a pretend date. Word spreads of Toni’s connections with boys, and she discovers that her new wealthy female classmates will pay big money for fake dates. Looking for a way to connect her old best friends with her new life at school, Toni and Emma start up Toni Valentine’s Rent-A-Gent Service.
But the business meets a scandal when Toni falls for one of her friends–the same guy who happens to be the most sought-after date. With everything she’s built on the line, Toni has to decide if she wants to save the business and her old life, or let go of being one of the guys for a chance at love.
I loved the premise of this novel, as it combined three of my favorite things: friendship, humor, romance.
Toni is a humorous and likable character. She and her three best guy friends have been inseparable ever since their sighting of a lake monster and their subsequent monster hunts. I really appreciated this realistic portrayal of friendship – often it’s one event that brings people together. But Toni feels she and the boys are growing apart, and so the book is largely about Toni’s attempt to save their friendship and her eventual realization that change is inevitable.
I really appreciated this underlying theme about maturity and embracing change, which is nicely accentuated by Toni’s coping with the death of her father and her relationship with her mom’s new husband. I loved Emma Elizabeth Swanson, the first female friend Toni makes at her new school. Emma is anything but stereotypical, and she teaches Toni that’s it’s okay to embrace her femininity without sacrificing her tomboyish nature. Their Rent-A-Gent service is totally original, and there are plenty of mishaps along the way.
My only complaint has to do with several inappropriate aspects of the novel I thought were unnecessary. Toni’s prank on her high school principal at the beginning of the book definitely showcases her immaturity, but it was also inappropriate and rude. Toni and her friends have an unconcerned attitude toward underage drinking. At one point Toni pole dances for her friends. I just didn’t appreciate this, and I don’t think younger readers would, either.
Overall, I enjoyed the novel even though it didn’t quite meet my expectations.
Release date: Feb. 10, 2015 (That’s TOMORROW, my friends!)