Mackenzie “Max” Miller has a problem. Her parents have arrived in town for a surprise visit, and if they see her dyed hair, tattoos, and piercings, they just might disown her. Even worse, they’re expecting to meet a nice, wholesome boyfriend, not a guy named Mace who has a neck tattoo and plays in a band. All her lies are about to come crashing down around her, but then she meets Cade.
Cade moved to Philadelphia to act and to leave his problems behind in Texas. So far though, he’s kept the problems and had very little opportunity to take the stage. When Max approaches him in a coffee shop with a crazy request to pretend to be her boyfriend, he agrees to play the part. But when Cade plays the role a little too well, they’re forced to keep the ruse going. And the more they fake the relationship, the more real it begins to feel.
So this book kind of continues the story after Losing It, but you don’t have to read the first book to follow what’s happening in this one. BUT there is a slightly “spoilerish” scene later in the book, about Garrick and Bliss, when they do make an appearance.
At end of the first book, Bliss and Garrick move to Philadelphia. Cade Winston moves there too when he decides to go to Temple for his Masters. Cade has been best friends with Bliss for over four years while they were in school together in Texas. When Bliss didn’t feel the same way about Cade, after he revealed his true feelings for her, during their last semester together, things have been awkward between them. Faking It is Cade and Max’s story.
I have to say this up front now. I adored Garrick in Losing It, hot British professor. Check out my review here. Cade was my favorite secondary character for sure. He definitely is giving Garrick a run for his money in this book. You know that saying, “Nice guys finish last”? Well, I would still vote/choose Cade to finish way before anyone else, even though he is a completely normal nice guy. In fact, Max calls him “Golden Boy”.
Max/Mackenzie Miller. She’s so cool and funny. Even though, Cade calls her “Angry girl”, I still loved her. She drops out of school to pursue her dream of playing music. She’s the lead singer of her band Under the Bell Jar, a dancer/bartender at Trestle, and works at a tattoo parlor. She may look angry, but she’s actually more sad and afraid. She’s still dealing with the death of her older sister Alex, and her parents can’t seem to not project their expectations of what her sister could have been onto Max. She seems fearless, but she is hiding who she really wants to be from them. This story is about how she finally finds the courage to face them. Cade helps her by accepting her, exactly as she is and who she wants to be. Cade is learning to move past his unrequited feelings for Bliss, and get his own future.
When Max’s parents surprise her by showing up in Philly unannounced, Max finds herself walking up to Cade, a complete stranger in a coffee shop, and asks him to play along. Be her perfect boyfriend. Cade’s an actor, improvising comes easily for him, except he finds Max’s unique beauty attractive. He can’t help, but be intrigued by her.
But sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking for until it’s already knocked you flat on your back. And what was the point in living if I was only going to travel the same roads again and again?
Her hair glowed in the light of the waking sun. Her eyes were a bottomless ocean that I would give up air to explore. A perfect moment passed, uninterrupted by the world, unhurried by time, untainted by fear of the past or the future.
Cade’s first meeting with Max’s parents goes over so well, they continue the charade for Thanksgiving, and then the expectation of him coming home with her for Christmas is immediately assumed by her parents by the time they leave.
Max has never been attracted to a guy so perfect, like Cade. She’s not sure what she’s feeling, but she can’t ignore it either. She also feels unworthy of his love and attention.
With his forehead pressed against mine, the sight of him filled up my vision. There was nothing else in that moment, but him. And he…he reminded me of music. Of the way singing made me feel. Like I was falling and flying, freedom and fear.
If I had to compare the two books, Losing It is the lighter funnier read. Faking It has it’s lighter moments.
Maybe someday I’d be able to look back and laugh at the ridiculousness of this moment. Maybe someday I’d also get on a subway car that didn’t smell like urine. The future had much to look forward to. —Max
Milo punched me in the shoulder, spilling half the shot. He topped off the glass and said, “Cade Winston, by drinking this shot, you hereby swear to do something out of character tonight. Should you fail, you’ll be cursed to a lifetime filled with premature ejaculation.”
He held up his hands and laughed, “Hey, the alcohol gods giveth and they taketh away.”
Faking It is a more serious story, because of Max’s grief and Cade’s own loss on his childhood. They both are trying to get past other people’s expectations.
I hated thinking about the past. Every time I did, I felt heavy, like gravity had doubled and instead of just holding me to the Earth, it flattened me. –Max
“But fear lets us know we’re alive. It tells me that you care about what happens between us because the mind doesn’t waste time being scared about things that don’t matter.”–-Cade
For as much as I liked Cade in the first book, I fell head-over-heels in love with him in Faking It. He is definitely making my list of favorite book boyfriends this year.
Here are some more great news from Cora Carmack! Next week, she will be answering questions in a special one day only discussion group on Goodreads, Wednesday, June 26th, here. And….**drum roll**
For Garrick fans around the world, Keeping Her will be coming out in August. It’s the continuation of Bliss and Garrick’s relationship, all told through Garrick’s point of view. **happy dance**
Here’s a special note from Cora Carmack herself, explaining her inspiration for continuing their story. *more dancing*
Hey, Awesome Readers!
Thanks for stopping by to learn more about my upcoming novella, KEEPING HER.
In the months since LOSING IT published, I’ve had so many tweets and facebook messages and emails from many of you who have loved the book, and especially loved Garrick. Who doesn’t love a hot British professor? I had lots of fans begging for LOSING IT from Garrick’s POV, but I thought I could do one better than that. Because the only thing better than having LOSING IT from Garrick’s POV was to have a sequel novella where we got to know Garrick better AND got to see how his life with Bliss continued. So, KEEPING HER was born.
But since you all wanted to know Garrick’s thoughts so badly (and because I pretty much adore you all and am terrible at saying no), I decided to write a few key scenes from LOSING IT in Garrick’s POV. Hopefully these will remind you of why you fell for Garrick in the first place, and get you all fired up to read the novella in August!
GUESS WHAT!! We have an sneak peak right here. Now I am inserting my ***spoiler alert** here, if you haven’t read Losing It yet. **we need sound effects here**
The alarm sounded too early.
I smacked it into silence, and then reached for Bliss. I found only rumpled sheets and empty space. My eyelids felt like they’d been weighted down by sandbags, but I sat up and pried them open.
My voice was gravely with sleep when I called out, “Love? Where are you?” Something clanged in the kitchen in response. I sat up, fatigue wiped away by the realization that Bliss was up. And she was cooking.
That couldn’t be a good sign.
I threw back the covers and cool morning air assaulted my bare skin. I pulled on a pair of pajama bottoms and a t-shirt before padding down the hallway to the kitchen.
A muttered curse word.
Then I rounded the corner into a war zone.
Her wide eyes met mine. Her face, her hair, our tiny nook of a kitchen was covered in flour. Some kind of batter was smudged across her cheek and the counter tops.
“I’m making pancakes.” She said it the way one might say, ‘I didn’t do it’ when held at gunpoint by policemen. I cast my eyes down to keep from laughing, only to be devastated by the bare legs stretching out from the oversized t-shirt she wore. My t-shirt. Damn.
I’d loved her legs from the moment I’d first seen them while helping her with a burn she’d received on my motorcycle. They drove me to distraction just as much now as they did then.
I could have studied the shape of her thighs and the way they flared out toward her hips for hours. I could have been swept away by the feeling of possession that swelled in me at seeing her wear my clothing. There were dozens of things that I wanted to do in that moment, but an acrid smell tickled my nostrils, and a few tendrils of smoke began to creep around Bliss from the stove at her back. I lurched for the pan, where I found a blackening, misshapen lump of something. I pulled the pan off the stove, and heard a slight hitch in Bliss’s breath behind me.
Another bad sign.
As quickly as I could, I tossed the “pancake” into the trash, and deposited the pan in the sink. I said, “Why don’t we go out for breakfast?”
Bliss smiled, but it was one of those watery, wavering kinds of smiles that made every man want to run for the hills. I’d become well accustomed to Bliss’s panic freak-outs. But crying… that was still a terrifyingly unfamiliar territory.
She collapsed into a nearby chair, and her head thumped down onto the table. I stood there, clenching and unclenching my fists, trying to decide on the best course of action. She turned her head to the side, pressing her cheek against the table and looked at me. Her hair stuck up in every direction, her bottom lip suffered under her teeth, and the look in her eyes pulled at something in my chest. Like an itch at my heart. All I knew was that something was wrong, and I wanted to fix it. The how was the question.
I moved forward and knelt beside her chair. Red lined her eyes, and her skin was a shade paler than normal. I asked, “How long have you been awake?”
She shrugged. “Since around four. Maybe closer to three.”
I sighed and ran a hand over her unruly hair.
“I read and did some laundry and cleaned the kitchen.” She looked around. “It was clean. I swear.”
I laughed and leaned up to press a kiss to her forehead. I pulled another chair around, and took a seat beside her. I laid my head down beside hers, but she closed her eyes and flipped her head around to face the other direction.
She said, “Don’t look at me. I’m a mess.”
I wasn’t about to let her get away with that. I slipped an arm underneath her knees and tugged her into my lap. She whined my name, and then buried her head into my neck. I took hold of her jaw, and made her meet my gaze. It couldn’t be a coincidence that this was happening on the day we were set to leave for London to meet my parents. She’d been remarkably calm about it until now. “Everything is going to be fine, love. I swear it.”
“What if she hates me?”
That’s what this was about. My mother. Bliss could barely handle her own overbearing Mother. It seemed cruel that the universe had seen fit to give us two. But I was far more worried about what Bliss would think than what my mother would think. Bliss was honest and sweet and genuine, and my family… well, not so much.
I forced a smile and said, “Impossible.”
“Garrick, I’ve overheard enough phone calls with your mother to know she’s very… opinionated. I’d be stupid not to worry about what she’ll think of me.”
“You’d be stupid to think that anything my mother could say would matter.” And it wouldn’t matter to me. But it would matter to Bliss. Late at night when our apartment got quiet, the image of my mum as predator and Bliss as prey kept popping into my head. One week. We just had to survive one week. I stroked my thumb across her jaw and added, “I love you.”
So much that it terrified me. And I didn’t scare easy.
“I know… I just–“
“Want her to like you. I know. And she will.” Please God let her like her. “She’ll like you because I love you. She might be a bit abrasive, but like any mother she wants me to be happy.”
Or at least I hoped that was how she would see things.
Bliss’s chin tipped up slightly, bringing her lips closer to mine. I felt her breath across my mouth, and my body reacted almost instantly. My spine straightened, and I became acutely aware of the bare legs draped across my lap. She said, “And you are? Happy?”
God, sometimes I just wanted to shake her. In many ways, she’d overcome the worst of her insecurities, but in moments of stress they seemed to all come rushing back. Rather than wasting my breath answering, I stood with her cradled in my arms, and headed for the hallway.
“What are you doing?” She asked.
I stopped for a moment to press a hard kiss to her mouth. Her fingers laced around my neck, but I pulled back before she could distract me from making my point. “I’m showing you how happy I am.”
I nudged the bathroom door open, and leaned past the shower curtain. Bliss squealed and held tighter to my neck, as I turned the shower knobs with her still in my arms. She raised an eyebrow, a sly grin sneaking across her lips. “Our shower makes you happy?”
“You make me happy. The shower is just multi-tasking.”
“How very responsible of you.”
I kissed a smudge of pancake batter off her cheek, and smiled.
“Yes, that’s the word.”
I set her down on her feet, but her arms stayed tucked around my neck. When she smiled at me like that, I forgot all about the flour on her face or her wild bed head. That smile went straight through me and settled somewhere in my bones.
I kissed her on the forehead and said, “Let’s get you cleaned up.”
I found the hem of her oversized t-shirt, and began pulling it over her head. I’m not sure where the t-shirt ended up because when I realized she was wearing nothing underneath it, my vision narrowed to only encompass her.
God, she was gorgeous.
If you would have told me two years ago that I’d be getting married to a girl that I’d met just over a year ago, I would have called you mental. My romantic history was so horrendous, I’d never really thought of myself as the marrying type. Until her.
Bliss cleared her throat, and my eyes went back to her. To her mouth. Her chest. The small of her waist that seemed perfectly sculpted to fit in my hands.
She was the ultimate game changer. I hadn’t known what it was like to meet a person so full of joy that just by being near her, I was elevated to a happier place. I’d never been with someone who was able to captivate every part of me— mind, body, and soul.
Body, of course, being my primary focus at the moment.
Her bottom lip stuck out, calling to me, and she said, “How long are you going to make me stand here naked while you’re fully clothed?”
I took a seat on the toilet, and smiled cheekily up at her. I leaned back, laying one leg across my other knee and said, “I could do this all day.”
And I wasn’t lying. I wanted to study her, to memorize her, to be able to close my eyes and see her perfectly as she was.
She rolled her eyes. “Yes, well, it might be a little awkward if I were to stay naked all day. Though it would make going through airport security much simpler.”
I barked a laugh, and she added, “Wasn’t your goal to distract me and make me less self-conscious? You’re falling down on the job, Mr. Taylor.”
Well, I couldn’t have that now could I?
I gripped her waist and pulled her forward until my chin brushed the skin just below her belly button. She shivered in my arms, and the reaction sent my blood screaming through my veins. I let my lips graze her just slightly and said, “You have nothing to be self-conscious about.”
Her hands laced into my hair, and she looked down at me with glazed eyes. Firmer this time, I dragged my lips over her belly button and up to the valley made by her ribs. I tasted flour on her skin even here, and smothered a laugh.
Above me, she sighed and said, “You’re back on track with that distracting thing.”
Suddenly impatient, I stood and pulled my shirt over my head. I was rewarded with that a breathy sigh and a bitten lip that made it incredibly hard not to be cocky. And to not take her right then.
She swallowed, drawing my eyes to her neck. God, I didn’t know what it was about her neck, but it was constantly my undoing. I felt like a teenage boy, wanting to mark that pale, unblemished skin as mine again and again. I brushed a thumb over her pulse point, and she swallowed again, her eyes wide. I laced my fingers through her sleep-addled curls, and tilted her head back.
“How about now?” I asked.
If she was even half as distracted as I was, I’d say I’d done my job. Her eyes pulled away from my bare chest and she said, “Uh… what?”
I laughed, but the sound stuck in my throat when her slim fingers smoothed from my chest down to the waist of my pajama bottoms. Her fingers curled around the band, and I swallowed. Looking down, I could see the way her curves reached out toward my body, and I wanted nothing more than to seal our bodies together.
Before I completely lost my train of thought, I said, ‘No more worrying about my mother, right?”
For either of us.
She gave me a half-glazed glare.
I used one hand to pull her closer, and the other to cup her breast. Then I repeated, “No more worrying.”
“Do you promise to do this every time I do worry?”
I gave a quick pinch to the tip of the breast in my hand. She flinched, and then moaned. Her eyes fluttered closed and her body swayed toward mine.
She breathed, “No worrying.”
And I thought Thank God.
Because I couldn’t wait another second.
I think you can read the key scenes from Losing It, Cora mentioned, written from Garrick’s POV, on her blog. Just click on the link I provided at the top of the post.
I give Faking It 5 fantastic stars. I put it on my “books that own me” and “top shelf fantastic reads” shelves on Goodreads.