The Natural History of Us by Rachel Harris
Published by Spencer Hill Press on April 5th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 297
Format: e-ARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

One class assignment. One second chance at love. The school player is all in. Now he needs to win back the sweet commitment girl who's forever owned his heart. Justin Carter has a secret. He's not the total player Fairfield Academy believes him to be. Not really. In fact, he used to be a one-woman guy…and his feelings for her never went away. Too bad he broke her heart three years ago and made sure to ruin any chance she'd ever forgive him. Peyton Williams is a liar. She pretends to be whole, counting down the days until graduation and helping her parents at the family ranch. But the truth is, she's done everything she can to get over Justin, and salvation is just around the corner. With graduation one short month away, she'll soon break free from the painful memories and start her life fresh. Of course, she has to get through working with him on one last assignment first.

For Justin, nothing ever felt as right as being with Peyton, and now that fate's given him a shot at redemption, he's determined to make the most of it. And for Peyton…well, Justin Carter has always been her kryptonite.

**Disclaimer:** An eARC of these title was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.

Quick Thoughts and Rating: 4 stars! The Natural History of Us  was cute and angsty with great characters and a fantastic second-chance romance, a bit of all my faves! Definitely worth mentioning in my opinion, but Rachel Harris writes excellent first (and second and third and 31st) kisses!

Review: It’s a little none fact that tropes exist in fiction for the simple fact that they’re the types of stories that readers continually want to read, and The Natural History of Us just happens to have one of my all-time faves: second-chance romance. To me, there’s something special about two people belonging together–“inevitability” as Justin would say–and for whatever the reason, though usually it’s stupidity or immaturity or simply being the right person at the wrong point in their lives, the couple breaks up. Yet, eventually, they always finds themselves back together. But it’s that chase in-between the shared heartache and the back-togetherness that I live for. Those moments of shared history that fuel a strained connection, and those instances where they realize that in this second with this very person is exactly where I’m meant to be. My little heart just flutters away at the thought of how love is so strong and despite life sometimes throwing these crappy, unavoidable circumstances at us time and again, love still usually always wins out. *le sigh*

In this book, Justin thinks he’s doing Peyton a great service by setting her free, but after three years and with MLB or baseball scholarship to his intended college on the horizon, Justin realizes the only real thing, the only good thing, missing from his life is the girl he willingly lost years ago. Since freshman year, he’s had a lot of time to grow up and mature, to see all these wonderful examples of love and marriage working despite the major lack of love and a “good” marriage being present in his own home, and when a senior project just before graduation forces him into a partnership with his long lost love Peyton, he seizes the opportunity to win back her heart. However, he’s going to have to work extremely hard to win Peyton’s affection. He broke not only her heart, but her spirit when she was at her most vulnerable and in an inexcusable way, and though her traitorous heart still secretly longs for Justin, she’s moved on with her best friend who has loved her for forever.

Told in alternating dual POVs with a jumping timeline between past and present, Harris delivered a story of unfolding love twice that was easy to follow and just as easy to adore. Being in the headspace of both teens as they fell for each other the first and second time really allowed me to connect with them, to understand their positions and reasoning even though I may have wanted to shake them, especially Justin, and say stop it with out this young love foolishness. Regardless of that, I feel like Justin and Peyton had great voices and messages (and life teaching moments) that I feel like many teens today will connect to, relate with. Simply put, I liked the characters, both who they were individually and how they fit together. I liked their supporting cast, Justin’s teammates and Peyton’s family and friends, as well. I also always enjoy the fact that Harris tightropes the balance between just the right amount of angst and fluff, and pulls off the perfect dialogue of a teenager without it sounding like she’s reliving her own past and injecting her own voice into the story. She captures the teen voice so effortlessly and that makes it really easy to get into her books.

As for why this is four stars instead of five, it was a few minor issues that were really me being a tad nit-picky. I feel like with the dual timelines, which I both appreciated and loved, also made it a little more difficult to flesh out all the characters, both main and secondary, as much as I feel like she did in the first book of this companion series. Don’t get me wrong, I felt like I knew who the characters were and liked the development I saw, but in a way, it almost felt like I was being told from the now and then timeline of their character arc and not experiencing it with them throughout the story. Secondly, I wasn’t too crazy about the love triangle set-up. I understand the reasoning behind including it, but I never felt the connection there–probably because Peyton wasn’t all in and it read that way–so it felt like more of a hindrance every time he was around. Lastly, I would’ve loved to have seen them as an official couple for a chapter longer or maybe in an epilogue to really have the story come full circle for me. It’s definitely a personal issue I have with books, but as much as I love the journey to love, I also want to bask in the bliss of coupledom for a little bit longer before the book shuts the door in my face.

All in all, it was a great story of learning to fall in love with a person twice. It had really great characters and really good writing. But if I’m being perfectly honest, I’ll always read YA Contemporary Romance books by Rachel Harris for the kissing. They’re pretty freaking epic, just saying.

Teaser Quote:

I touched my forehead against hers. “And I’m yours.” Her hands left my shoulders and skimmed hesitantly over my back. “I mean it, Sunshine. You deserve better, but if you still want me even after knowing what a disaster I am, then I’m all in. I’m too selfish to walk away.” I leaned back. “But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
~quotes taken from the e-ARC of The Natural History of Us, Justin’s POV, at 43%

Book Rating Breakdown
General Book Feels

Rec It? Yes! If you loved the companion novel, The Fine Art of Pretending, I feel like you’d really enjoy this one too! If you haven’t read it, well, then I’d just flat-out recommend this one or both, honestly! Go snatch them up with a quickness; you can always come back and thank me later.

♥ A very special thanks to Spencer Hill Press and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.

Full of giggles, flails, snark and Southern endearments. Avid Reader. Lover of swoony boys, kickass heroines, yummy kissing scenes, and pretty prose.

I like to draw hearts in the sky (eternal optimist) and wish on stars (forever dreamer). Documentaries, sweet tea, sleep, and brightly colored knee-socks are a few of my favorite things. ♥

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