ARC Review – Decked with Holly by Marni Bates

Holly Dayton is about to go way out of her comfort zone. . .

Spending Christmas vacation on a cruise with her two cousins from hell isn’t Holly’s idea of a good time. And when in a moment of seasick-fueled desperation she lurches into an open suite–she’s greeted with an eyeful of pepper spray. The culprit? A gorgeous guy calling himself Nick. But when Holly goes to make her exit, she gets the shock of her life: a corridor crammed with screaming teenage fans. Because Nick just happens to be Dominic Wyatt, drummer for ReadySet–one of the hottest bands in America.

Suddenly rumors are swirling, and Holly’s face is captured on countless phones and plastered all over the Internet. But the band can’t risk a scandal destroying their family-friendly image, so Dominic convinces Holly to be his fake girlfriend–just for two weeks. How bad could it be to be fauxmantically involved with one of the cutest rockstars on the planet? Holly’s about to find out.

I haven’t read a young adult novel since I was twelve and “discovered” my aunt’s stash of Harlequin Romances. My love for “trashy” romance began right then and there and I never gave another thought to the young adult genre. Then I was given the opportunity to review Decked With Holly, a YA novel that takes place on a cruise ship. I honestly think DiDi waves anything on a cruise ship under my nose because she knows I’ll have a hard time turning it down and since once again this features a pop/rock musician as the hero, I was a goner. I am so thankful that I’m that transparent to my Guilty Pleasures boss because I haven’t laughed and enjoyed a book like this in a really long time. In addition to this being a sweet romance, it is a hysterical comedy of errors that I couldn’t put down. Considering it was an actual book and not an e-book, that’s really saying something because I haven’t picked up a “real” book in 2 years!

Holly is an almost 18 year old orphan who has been raised by her Grandfather since her parents died in car accident when she was a baby. She’s a slightly plump, average looking girl who enjoys art and listening to music. She adores her Grandpa and her best friend, Jen, despite some of the crazy schemes she gets them involved in. While she’s okay with who she is, her aunt and her female cousins never miss an opportunity to bring up her short comings.

Dominic (Dom or Nick) is a member of a very successful band, ReadySet. He’s usually pretty laid back but he’s feeling burned out and demands they band take some time off during the upcoming Christmas holidays. He’s okay with being in the spotlight most of the time but he’s ready to kick back and relax and try his hand at writing some music.

They both end up on a Christmas week cruise that turns into pretty much a week of hell for both of them. These two meet in one of the most hysterical exchanges ever and the hilarity doesn’t end there. Throughout the book these two volley verbal insults and innuendo back and forth like a competitive sport and it’s so hard not to enjoy most of it. Holly is such a great girl; she’s sassy, smart, and has a good head on her shoulders for being so young. Nick at times comes off as a complete jerk but we also see he’s got a very sensitive side as well. It’s obvious he’s been jaded by the public lifestyle and what happens to them while on this trip kind of proves that point.

After some very incriminating photos of Holly and Nick are published, he convinces her to play the part of his girlfriend for the trip. Holly sees it as an opportunity to be “cool” for once in her life and after a good bit of negotiating she agrees. She has no idea that in doing so, they’ll have to be very affectionate in front of the world. While this throws her for a short while, Nick is there to pick up the pieces and they manage to be very convincing. In the process though they both find themselves experiencing growing feelings for one another, something neither one expected or planned.

I very much enjoyed this young adult story and while there was some talk of sex, there was none. There was a lot of kissing and a little groping but nothing too wild. Honestly compared to some of the things I hear 6th graders discussing Holly and Nick’s interactions were pretty mild. The writing in this story is superb and the characters completely engaging. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good romance or needs something fun to bring them out of a holiday slump. I can guarantee you will be laughing in no time. I liked this book so much, Marni Bates is officially on my “must read” list!

4.5 Stars

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