I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: If Only . . . #6
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on November 17, 2015
Source: the publisher
If Only . . . she wasn't pretending to be someone else! The If Only romance line continues in this fun rags-to-riches romance.
Holly Mathews' mom is the new manager of a ritzy retirement home, and they just moved in. But having super-rich retirees as her only neighbors isn't a total bust, because the gorgeous, notorious Malik Buchannan is the grandson of a resident. Just one problem: when they meet, Malik assumes Holly is there to visit her own rich relative. She doesn't correct him, and it probably doesn't matter, because their flirtation could never turn into more than a superficial fling . . . right? But the longer she lives in his privileged world, the deeper Holly falls for Malik, and the harder it is to tell the truth . . . because coming clean might mean losing him.
For anyone who has dreamed of their own Cinderella story, this romance shows that when it comes to true love, the best person to be is yourself!
This was my first Mandy Hubbard book and my first read from the “If Only” YA Romance Series (which focuses on teenage girls who want what they can’t have and fall for someone they shouldn’t, according to this article). I had no idea what to expect and I don’t typically read YA romance novels, so I was a bit nervous; however, Everything But the Truth ended up being a cute, light-hearted romance with fun characters and major ship feels!
I liked Holly in the beginning. She was the average girl-next-door who was working and saving every last penny for college. She and her mom got along (something I’d love to see happen more often in YA) and she was kind to – and liked by – the residents. Her lies, intentional or not, quickly became frustrating, though. She had so many opportunities to fess up and she let them all slip by. After awhile, the convenient stories she made up to hide her lie became TOO convenient, almost unrealistically so.
I was swoony for Malik almost immediately after we met him. Later in the story, he definitely had some meh moments. I understand his trust issues, given who he is and what he’s been through; however, I hated how mistrustful he became of Holly. Yes, I know, I JUST condemned her for dragging her lies out for too long. But in the end, she DID tell him the truth. And it’s obvious she was sincere, so I’m kind of mad at Malik for waiting so long to forgive her. Really, they were both equally at fault.
At first, I was going to go on this whole rant about Alex and how I didn’t fully trust her and how she was a crappy friend because I’m so tired of books with crappy female friendships. But then there’s a huge revelation/explanation for her and her behavior – something I’d suspected a few chapters before we were officially told – and everything made so much more sense! So I won’t rant about crappy female friendships in this review and in relation to this book. But in general, I do wish we’d see less of this trope in YA!
Finally, I really liked Mr. Buchannan! He totally reminded me of Blu Mankuma as Gort in Halloweentown ll: Kalabar’s Revenge. He’s so growly bear, but with a giant soft spot! Deep down, he loves his grandson and his intentions are good.
This book was often right on the edge of cute but cheesy. There were plenty of “awwww” moments, but they were equally matched by the cheesy moments. It also took awhile to get used to Hubbard’s writing style, so at first, the writing came off as being a bit simplistic. Once I got used to it, though, I enjoyed it! Her writing has this rawness to it that makes the story feel more authentic, more like a teenager is actually telling/showing it.
Sadly, this book’s biggest fault was its predictability. I don’t know if it’s a result of the genre or just my ability to predict how things will turn out, but it was pretty easy to figure out what would happen and how things would be resolved in the end. As I mentioned earlier, in relation to Holly, there were also a lot of resolutions that were entirely too convenient. This goes hand-in-hand with the predictability aspect.
Overall, despite the cheesiness (and I mean that in a cute/fun way) and predictability, I found that I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun, light-hearted romance and the characters, though not totally stand-out, were awesome in their own way and awesome enough that I DID care about them enough to see how their stories ended. Plus, the ending DID make me cry, so, ya know… Predictable, but sweet and epic! So if all that is your kind of thing, then this book is definitely for you!