Perfectly Messy (Effortless With You, #2)

First Lines: A mousy-haired freshman darts out of my way as I take my first step out of French.  I stop in the doorway.  “Thanks, but you go ahead.”  He blushes as I wave him forward.  People behind me groan.  They’ll just have to wait.

Two things.  First of all, is this or is this not one of the cutest covers you have ever seen?  Second of all, I want to thank the amazing Lizzy Charles for hooking me up with a copy of this to read and review.  I am a lucky girl.

I kinda hate to do this to you guys, but there are some POSSIBLE LIGHT SPOILERS ahead if you haven’t read the first book.  You’ve been warned.

It seems like overnight Lucy went from being social outcast to one of the most popular girls in school, all because she’s now dating Justin Marshall.  But popularity isn’t everything, as Justin well knows.  As basketball captain and the son of Minnesota’s next governor, he’s had enough attention to last a lifetime.  As long as he had Lucy, he feels like life is alright.  But finding time for Lucy and Justin to be together is proving to be a challenge.  Stolen kisses and quick hallway whispers just aren’t enough.  Lucy thought her junior year would be filled with friends, second chances, and kisses from Justin.  When scandalous pictures of Justin and Lucy begin cropping up online, Justin doesn’t know what to do.  How can he protect Lucy from the world of politics and scandal?  He may have to do the last thing he wants to do to keep her safe: break her heart.

Before I read this, I went back and reread Effortless With You, which was a genius idea on my part.  That book…I get tinglies when I read it.  And it was great because it put me back in the world of Lucy and Justin.

In the end, I didn’t think this book was as good as the first book, but I do hold the first one in very high esteem.  So there is that.

First of all, it was great to see Justin and Lucy living something of a “normal” life rather than the partly idyllic life that is summer vacation.  I liked seeing them back in school, dealing with dances and futures.  It made it feel realistic and relatable.

Lucy was a much more likable character this time around than the first book.  (Admittedly, she’s not really supposed to be all that likable in the beginning of the series, I think.)  It was so great that I could jump right in and stand behind her.  I like the girl she’s become.  But Justin…I guess this was his turn to be less likable.  Which I think is the point of this book.  Sigh.  I understand it, I do, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I have to like it.

There were so many great relationship milestones they hit in this book too.  Like meeting the parents.  Scenes like those were usually nerve-wracking, funny, and so true.  That was delightful.  I like finding humor in odd places.

There was much love for the minor characters in this book too.  It was great to see the old favorites again (Alex, Jen), the newcomers (Ian, Mr. Marshall), and the old baddy (Marissa).  This story doesn’t shy away from minor characters.  While it focuses a lot of time and attention on Lucy and Justin, they both had so many friends and family that constantly make reappearances in the story.  I love that the parents (on both sides) have such prominent roles in the story.

And there’s such a great message here for girls: Be yourself, and be strong.  I loved that.  There was a lot of empowerment in the story.  And I guess I shouldn’t say it’s just for girls either.  It’s for everyone.

The only thing I had an issue with in the story was all the drama.  The story flips between Lucy and Justin narrating, and there was so much they were both upset about.  There was girl drama on Lucy’s side, political drama on Justin’s, and relationship drama sprinkled in every chapter.  I feel completely maxed out on my realistic fiction drama for a few books now.  I felt on edge for basically the whole second half of the book.

Overall, this was such a lovely book.  I may not have liked it as much as I liked the first book (by a small margin), but it is still so so worth a read.

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