Eric Matua has one friend—his best friend and childhood sweetheart, who needs a place to stay for the summer.
Mia Johnson has thousands of friends—who live in her computer. Along with her email chats and Facebook notifications, Mia also devours romance novels, spending countless hours with fictional characters, dreaming of her own Romeo to sweep her off her feet.
When she starts receiving supersweet messages from a stranger who thinks she’s someone else, Mia begins to believe that real love is possible outside her virtual world.
When the two friends become roommates, Mia finds herself falling harder than she ever thought she could. But Eric keeps his desires locked away, unsure of himself and his ability to give his best friend what she deserves in a boyfriend.
As her advances are continually spurned, Mia splits her time between Eric and her computer. But she soon realizes she’s about to lose the only real thing she’s ever had.
This book has a lot going for it. Eric and Mia’s long-term friendship, mutual crushes, interesting characters, and lots and lots of social media. Mia is addicted to the internet and social media. She’s also been in love with Eric since high school, but he had a girlfriend so nothing ever came of it. When Eric returns to the States after spending time in Samoa, the two share an apartment in the Florida Keys for the summer. They kept in touch via the internet over the years, so they pick their friendship up right where it left off, both oblivious to the feelings each has for the other.
The story follows these two as they explore a relationship beyond the platonic friendship they’ve always had. But Mia has a hard time tearing herself away from her internet friends long enough to appreciate what she has right in front of her. Coupled with Eric’s social anxiety, these two have a long way to go to get to happily ever after.
The plot is a little different than many new adult romances. Sure, there is the couple that everyone knows belongs together and all the obstacles that keep them apart, but Eric seems to defy the alpha male stereotype that is typical. Okay, he’s super hot, but he has so many insecurities, he’s anything but alpha. His lack of confidence only makes him more adorable and that totally defies the stereotype of the leading man.. Eric is sweet, thoughtful, romantic, but profoundly unaware of his qualities. The plot follows a different course as well, keeping me on my toes. I never really knew how it was going to play out.
The only issue I really had with this story is the ending. Without giving anything away, I felt like Mia was forced to work too hard to redeem herself without Eric having to own up to his overreaction. He ultimately accepts his role and apologizes, but it’s a minor blip compared to Mia.
The setting us the Florida Keys (I think), but I’ve never been so I can’t be sure. But, I felt like I was there. I felt the warm summer nights, the soft silky sand that is native to south Florida. Cassie Mae also does a masterful job of creating portraying internet /social media addiction and taking us inside the world of social anxiety.
The two main characters are solid, deeply layered, and unique. The rest of the cast are in supporting roles and they don’t appear much, but still don’t come across as one-dimensional. I think they’re fine for the parts they play. But Mia and Eric are so well-developed that the rest don’t really matter. This is their story and its told really well through dual-first-person points of view. The author does a great job of differentiating their voices so Mia never sounds like Eric or vice versa.
Top Five Things I Love About The Real Thing
1. Mia’s love of social media, because it’s something we can all relate to.
2. Eric’s social anxiety. While I couldn’t identify with it, I feel like I have a better understanding of it now, and that’s always a good thing.
3. The first shower scene — and it’s not at all what you’d expect from that description — it’s sweet and steamy at the same time.
4. Dr. Seuss. Just love that Eric reads Dr. Seuss to Mia.
5. The friendship, because I married my best friend, so I know how friendship can become something more. Something that lasts.
A wonderful new adult romance that is a refreshing break from what I’ve been reading in this genre. I love the characters, their story, and their enduring friendship.
I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.