My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
Charlotte Charlie Donovan knows exactly what she wants for Christmas: Teo Ortiz. He s the school s star athlete, in the National Honor Society, invited to every party, contributes to the school paper (where Charlie is co-editor), and is about to be featured as One to Watch in a teen magazine basically, he's exactly the type of guy Charlie s meant to be with. The only problem he barely knows she exists.
But Charlie is determined to be Teo's date to the Christmas ball. And she has a plan: To rig the paper s Secret Santa so that she can win his heart with five perfect gifts. But to do that she needs help. Enter J.D. Ortiz Teo s cousin, and possibly the most annoying person on the planet. He s easy going, laid back, unorganized, spontaneous, and makes a joke out of everything the exact opposite of Charlie (and Teo). But he s willing to provide insight into what Teo wants, so she s stuck with him.
Yet, the more time Charlie spends with J.D., the more she starts to wonder: Does she really know what, or rather who, she wants for Christmas?
What I Liked:
I've been in a weird reading slump lately, in which I've been reading half as much as I did earlier in the year. I've enjoyed what I've been reading, for the most part, but it has been hard for to read as much as I used to earlier in the year (which is hilarious because earlier in the year I was busting my butt during my last semester of college). I picked up this book last night on a whim; I had just gone shopping earlier in the day and I bought a bunch of things for people for Christmas. I've really been in a Christmas mood and this book seemed perfect. And you know what? It was a really great read.
Let me start by saying that I wouldn't usually go for this type of story - in which the girl decides she is into this one guy, and she starts to go after him, but along the way she realizes that this other guy who she has been hanging out with is the guy she really likes, and UGH how will she choose? I hate love triangles and anything even remotely close to being a love triangle, so the presence of two guys/potential love interests in the story is usually enough for me to back far away. But I will say that Petroff executes this type of story perfectly. There is no love triangle, despite Charlie thinking that Teo is the perfect guy for her. But I'll get to that.
It all starts with invitations to Noelle Hawkins' Dec. 26th party, in which the theme is the Lovers' Ball, and everyone has to come with a date. Too bad Charlie's boyfriend Ajay dumped her recently. Charlie can't go to the party alone, and she certainly can't let Zakiyah (the newspaper's dating columnist and resident nosy snob) find out that she doesn't have a date. So what's a girl gotta do? Find someone who she might be interested, and get him to like her and be her date. Teo Ortiz is perfect - he is smart, good-looking, athletic, and charismatic. But in order to charm Teo, Charlie needs help, and the only person that can help her is J.D. Ortiz - Teo's cousin. J.D. is irritating and always late and always pushing Charlie's buttons, but he knows Teo really well. Charlie strikes a deal with J.D. in order to get J.D.'s help. But the more she spends time with J.D., the more she questions what - and who - she really wants.
I feel like Christmas-themed YA books aren't really a thing? There are so many Christmas romances in the adult romance world, but not so much in YA. Let me tell you, I am all for more YA Christmas romances. I love Christmas, and the feeling of joy and togetherness it brings. And Christmas romances have a quality of magic to them. This book was seriously adorable!
I hadn't read any reviews for this book until after I read it, and I have some thoughts on other people's thoughts. I'll try to discuss those as I go. One thing that someone mentioned was the lengths that Charlie went in order to get nice gifts for Teo (she has him for the Secret Santa program that the school newspaper staff is doing). I saw no problem with this, and I'll explain why below.
But first I think it's important that I talk about how much I adored Charlie. Charlie and I are pretty much the same people. We're planners, down to exact minutes and tasks and to-do lists. We deal with organization and perfection and do not tolerate lateness (seriously, I do not understand how some people are consistently late to everything?!?!?!?!). I related to Charlie on so many levels because I wa exactly her in high school, I was her in college, I am still her, and I've always been her. You know the phrase "it takes one to know one"? I understood Charlie.
And I suppose that is why I didn't find her shenanigans creepy or weird at all. Charlie is the editor of the school paper, and Teo is an occasional contributing writer. He, Charlie, Morgan (Charlie's best friend and co-editor), and the rest of the newspaper staff decided to do a Secret Santa among themselves. Charlie had a crush on Teo and came up with a way to get Teo as her Secret Santa, so she could get him the perfect gifts to charm him and they could go to Noelle's party and ride off into the sunset. I have been in Charlie's shoes. I've purposely taken this route or that route to class, in hopes of passing by my crush. I've tried to learn his schedule as much as possible so I could catch him "unexpectedly". Is it creepy? Eh, it might sound so. But in high school, for a shy girl (I was shy then, at least), this was the way to go. I was playing the long game, the long subtle game. And so was She went out of her way to get the most perfect gifts for Teo.
And that's where J.D., the newspaper photo editor and Teo's cousin, came in. J.D. and Charlie antagonize each other on a constant basis - he is always late, she hates his lateness and his ideas for the newspaper, he hates how she only wants her way and no one else's. They argue and bicker all the time, and it pains Charlie to ask for J.D.'s help. But as she spends more time with him (shopping for Teo's gifts, going over to J.D.'s house in order to spend time with Teo, etc.), she realizes that she had J.D. all wrong, and she had misjudged him.
J.D. is a little goofy, very creative/artistic, and super thoughtful. He loves to antagonize Charlie, and he doesn't sugarcoat things when it comes to her. For example, he tells her that she is too much of a control freak and that she doesn't like when things don't go her way. J.D. is confident and charismatic like his cousin, but he is more thoughtful and sweet (even if he doesn't show those traits - the traits appear many, many times through subtle things he does). And hey, a bonus - he has abs! A cute and talented photographer who is also smart, thoughtful, and confident (though not in a jerk way)? J.D. is an awesome catch. And it's cute how he subtly chases Charlie, even though he is fully aware that she is trying to charm his cousin. J.D. was playing an even longer game, and he definitely "won". The guy is so sweet!
I love how Charlie and J.D.'s relationship is initially. They argue and disagree so much, and the tension is delicious. I love enemies-to-lovers kind of romances, and this one was superb. Charlie doesn't pick up on their chemistry at first, but it's hard for her to ignore after a while. They get along better as they get to know each other more (especially in Charlie's case), and then they become kind-of friends... and then Charlie realizes that she no longer knows exactly what she wants. Was Teo a built-up fantasy in her head, a perfect guy for her on paper? Does he know her at all?
Like I said before, I wouldn't usually go for this type of book. Charlie spends nearly the entire book thinking that Teo is this perfect guy. But she also spends the entire book with J.D., getting to know him indirectly. The romance is perfect, in my opinion. I never felt a love triangle coming because there was none. And for those who might wonder, Charlie only ever has feelings for one guy, and she only kisses one guy. No love triangle, no messiness, no confusion.
I loved Charlie and her friend Morgan's friendship. They are supportive of each other, especially Morgan. Morgan goes along with all of Charlie's crazy schemes and helps her out, even when she knows Charlie is doing too much. Morgan realizes before Charlie does that J.D. is the guy for Charlie, and Morgan is such a good friend when it comes to this. I love how she and Charlie have a baking business. I love how she (Morgan) is in a healthy, committed relationship with a guy (Ira) and yet she is still an amazing friend to Charlie. This was wonderful to see!
The ending of the book was perfect, exactly what I wanted. Well, I might have wanted a tiny bit more (like an epilogue), but I can't complain too much because the ending was great. I love it when a girl goes after her guy (usually it's the other way around, so I get excited when I see it this way). This story warmed my heart and actually made me feel nostalgic about high school (and that is a first!).
What I Did Not Like:
I so wanted an epilogue! To see how the couple was doing, as a couple, in the future. I mean, I suppose using my imagination is cool too, but one more chapter would have been lovely.
And I wanted more kisses! With all of the chemistry that Charlie and J.D. had, I was expecting some steamy makeout sessions (or at least, a bunch of small scenes with lots of ~tension~). But that's okay! The author does a good job of creating the chemistry without there being much physical interaction. Still, I wanted more physical swoon!
Would I Recommend It:
Contemporary romance fans, holiday romance fans, Christmas fans in general - this is one for you. It's so cute and so fun, and it captures some high school teens really well. Seriously, take it from someone who was exactly like Charlie in high school - the author captured the teenagers really well. Plus, with the spirit of the holidays incorporated in every page, this book proved to be entertaining and magical as you might expect. I'm here for all of the YA holiday romances!
4 stars. I was already in a Christmas-y mood and now I definitely am. This author has written a wonderful story with an adorable romance, and I love how much the holidays are a part of the story (and not just Christmas, actually). I will definitely be looking out for more by this author!
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