True love can’t be strategized.

After book blogger Vivian Galdi’s longtime crush pretends their secret summer kissing sessions never happened, Vivian creates a list of safe crushes, determined to protect her heart.

But nerd-hot Dallas, the sweet new guy in town, sends the mission and Vivian’s zing meter into chaos. While designing software for the bookstore where Vivian works, Dallas wages a counter-mission.

Operation Replacement Crush is in full effect. And Dallas is determined to take her heart off the shelf.

Quick Thoughts and Rating: Actual rating of 2.5 stars! I could cry because I wanted to love this one so damn much. I mean, bookish girl, nerd-hot guy, and a scheme to get them together? Yes please! Sadly, for everything I loved about our male MC, Dallas (aka McNerd), I disliked about our heroine. I had originally wanted to give this only 2 stars, but ultimately I bumped it up a half-star because of my adoration for our resident nerd hottie and how adorable the ending turned out.

The Replacement Crush had all the novel ingredients for a truly adorkable read, especially highlighted in the truly charming grand gesture of an ending, but the lead up to it was a bit of a challenge for me. There’s little doubt in my mind that had some areas concerning the plot and heroine’s personality been changed a tad, my reading experience would have been completely different from this one.

♥ Review: I literally dread writing reviews for books that weren’t my favorite, more so when I had such high expectations going in to the book. This one . . .Gah, I wanted to love it so, so much and it kills that I was disappointed with it overall. To make matters worse, our heroine is a bookish girl–book blogger, works in her author mom’s bookstore, runs a book club–all of which the author incorporated wonderfully, so I feel like I’m about to slash one of my own which totally sucks. Like, hardcore sucks.

I’m going to go ahead and rip the band-aid off and dive into what didn’t work for me. Essentially, the majority of my faults lie directly with our heroine. As much as I loved her bookishness, the rest of her grated on every single one of my nerves. I mean, I totally get it. Being dumped, even though I wouldn’t necessarily call it that because her and the guy weren’t really going out only hooking up–granted the guy is a total ass and preyed on her vulnerability and obvious crush on him but that was his reputation, so I kind of fault her for going in so naive–totally sucks, and I could almost understand wanting to push away all guys. However, Vivian comes up with this asinine plan to only date dudes that don’t do it for her hormone zing meter. Vivy is smart, so I can’t understand for the life of me how she couldn’t grasp how stupid this was, especially when literally all of her friends and even those not of the friend variety were telling her how foolish this experiment is. But alas, our brilliant heroine has to go through the motions, hurt all the people she cares about including herself, burn more than a couple of bridges, and break a couple of hearts–again, including her own–before she finally wised up and realized that you can’t control love, it just happens. This whole plan was straight-up crazypants and the fact that she kept making the same mistakes over and over again made me want to crawl into this book, grab her by the shoulders, and shake the ever-loving hell out of her. Another thing that irked me beyond comprehension was how she avoided all her problems or even opportunities to resolves those conflicts by constantly running away. Seriously. I was a teenager. I remember how many mistakes I made, so I give her a pass on some of this stuff, but the bulk of them were so easily recognizable, even admittedly so by our heroine, and yet instead of fixing the problem, she would run headlong in the opposite direction toward more conflict and misunderstandings. Then she would get super mope-y about it and say stuff like this:

I felt like a defective Midas. Instead of turning everything I touched into gold, I turned everything to crap.
– quote taken from the eARC of The Replacement Crush at 52%

And still, she would do nothing to make sure that she didn’t repeat her mistakes. It was a revolving door of stupidity and I wanted a one-way exit away from it. Vivian needed a friend or even a non-friend just to tell her bluntly, “Girl, handle your shit.”

But more than my issues with Viv, it was the fact that her stumbles affected the plot and kept us in a constant loop of flirting, bringing up her stupid mission, and then pushing away the guy that everyone–again, including herself–knew was perfect for her. This made the pacing trudge along at a slow clip and made every other scene feel super repetitious. Same problems, same way of dealing with it, simply a different day. At one point, I wanted to start skimming (even though I never did give in to that temptation) just to get to the part where Viv would give in to her heart’s desire because I knew she and Dallas would be amazing together if she would just get over herself.

I’ll just lump some of my other smaller issues into one thing here. First was my inability to connect to it all. The plan felt flat to me from the start, so I was never able to get on board with Viv’s mission which made it difficult to get on board with her, to root for her to succeed. Another thing was that, in the beginning, there felt like a lot more telling than showing and that made it harder to get pulled in to the story. Also coupled with that was the fact that any time Vivian mentioned the setting, her home town or her school, it was always accompanied with how it was funded by retired millionaires or billionaires and the residents were all hippies. It was the hideaway of all these stars and such. The reiteration of that had me rolling my eyes after so many mentions. Lastly, there felt like a couple too many side-plots in the story and that muddled things a bit for me. I appreciated that it gave the characters a little more depth in a way, but it also distracted from our main story, too. If it had been a little more focused, perhaps the author could have won me over to Viv’s batshit plan.

Now, for a mini soapbox moment…  There was a problem with the guy that started Viv’s whole downward spiral into the plan of infinite stupidity and his name is Jake. Jake was the guy that all the girls wanted and had a bad reputation for being a player. He was also referred to as Jake the Snake. For the life of me, I cannot understand why Vivian would be so blind as to think that nights stolen away on the beach would equate to a relationship, no matter how cute he was or how long she’d carried a torch for him, but crushes have a funky way of blinding people, so I’ll give her a pass on that. I’ll even go so far as to give the author a pass for making him the ultimate asshat with how casually he dismissed “their relationship” and the hurtful things he said after. But what I cannot understand is why she took it even further and made him seem like he had abusive tendencies (he forcefully grabbed Viv a couple of times) and then even added in an attempted rape by him later in the book. I think we all got it; he wasn’t a nice guy. In fact, he was garbage, and that was even before the violent streak. I’m not saying that teen domestic abuse doesn’t happen, I know it does, but it just felt like an unnecessary addition to his character. As for the attempted rape, it felt like it was only added so Dallas could show off his secret ninja abilities and I’m not here for that. Furthermore, I didn’t appreciate how that whole issue felt a little unresolved. Viv finally decides that she is going to press charges after a couple of days of not telling even her mother whom she is supposed to be super close with, but we never see it come to fruition, and I won’t lie, that left an unsavory taste in my mouth.

All my faults aside, I can say that the saving grace of this novel was the beloved McNerd. I could understand Vivian’s falling for him because he pinged my zing meter, too. He was a lovable guy with “geek” tendencies, but also had other things going for him, some that we never even got to fully appreciate because they were introduced later or not given enough attention at all. I would have definitely appreciated Vivian having more page time with him. The chemistry he and Vivian had together was undeniable, and the ending where Viv poured her heart out in the cutest, dorkiest fashion was up there with some of my all-time favorite grand gestures ever. Seeing that and them finally getting together for a brief moment almost shot this up a whole other star because my objectivity of the overall story went out the window for a good five minutes because of how fluttery my heart got. It clouded my judgement. In fact, I feel like had the grand gesture happened sooner and we were able to see them together, kissing and being blissfully adorable together for a little longer, then my rating would have been much, much higher. That small window of time let me see the potential this book had and gave me all the fuzzy feelings I had anticipated when I snatched this novel up, so after careful consideration of that, I let my rating fall again because I knew this book could (and should have) been so much better.

All in all, this book had its cute, lighthearted moments interspersed with those many occasions that made me want to pull my hair out in frustration. It had the possibility to be so much more than it was, so for that reason I’ll be out on the lookout for more of this author’s work because I saw how much her writing grew in just this one book.

♥ Teaser Quote: Apparently I didn’t highlight too much in this novel, womp. So, instead of my usual swoony something, I’ll go for a moment between girlfriends where one of the girls champions for romance novels and the people who them.

     “Feminist need love, too,” I said. “I consider myself one.”
     “But you’d be automatically disqualified from the feminista club, based on the silly books you read,” Jaz argued.
     Not this again. Jaz never listened when I tried to explain how women ruled an entire genre of books as both readers and writers, and how awesome that was. I opened my mouth to argue, but Amy was faster.
     “No!” Amy surprised us both with her vehemence. “I totally disagree. Girls can be strong and independent and still want to fall in love, but with the right person who appreciates all those qualities.”
– quote taken from the eARC of The Replacement Crush at 14%

Book Rating Breakdown
Cover
Writing
Characters
Plot
Pacing
General Book Feels
Overall:

♥ Rec It? Maybe. I have a feeling there will be plenty of people who will like or love this book if they can tolerate the heroine more than I did. Then again, I also feel like there will be other readers like myself that don’t enjoy it as much for all the faults that I found in it. Ultimately, I feel like this is a book that you should borrow from a friend or library or wait until it goes on sale.

♥ A very special thanks to Entangled:TEEN and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this title.

*Disclaimer: An eARC of this 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.

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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