FicCentral received a free copy of this book from Entangled Publishing (via NetGalley).
Series: Edgelake High School #1
Publisher: Entangled Crush on April 10, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (YA)
For most of her teenage life, CeCe Edmonds has been dealing with the stares and the not-so-polite whispers that follow her around Edgelake High. So she has a large scar on her face—Harry Potter had one on his forehead and people still liked him.
CeCe never cared about her looks—until Emmett Brady, transfer student and football darling, becomes her literature critique partner. The only problem? Emmett is blindsided by Bryn DeNeuville, CeCe’s gorgeous and suddenly shy volleyball teammate.
Bryn asks CeCe to help her compose messages that’ll charm Emmett. CeCe isn’t sure there’s anything in his head worth charming but agrees anyway—she’s a sucker for a good romance. Unfortunately, the more messages she sends and the more they run into each other, the more she realizes there’s plenty in his head, from food to literature. Too bad Emmett seems to be falling for the wrong girl…
Don’t Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray
The Hook: Bryn unknowingly borrows from a classic play when she enlists CeCe, her snarky and unfortunately scarred teammate to help her land the hottest guy in school. But CeCe’s words speak more to Emmett’s soul than whatever small talk Bryn can manage, and soon all three are caught in a confusing web of their own making. CeCe knows that the big scar on her face practically guarantees that no boy will ever look at her the was Emmett (and every other male in school) looks at Bryn, but she can’t help wishing he’d realize it’s her text and emails he finds so fascinating…
The Verdict: I absolutely LOVE this book! Initially, I didn’t have a lot of hope for it. In the past few days, I’d finished one of the best YA romances I’ve ever read, and that usually doesn’t bode well for the next couple of books I read. But Don’t Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray certainly surprised me.
First, I happen to love Cyrano de Bergerac (the play, not the historical figure). I even enjoyed Roxanne, the somewhat silly modern movie adaptation of it. It was that mention of CdB that prompted me to request a copy of Don’t Kiss the Messenger, and I’m sooooo glad I did!
CeCe’s face was disfigured in a terrible car accident when she was a kid, so she’s really never experienced romance first-hand. She’s got plenty of friends, she’s a star on her volleyball team, and she’s smart as a whip. But having a really obvious scar on her face through all her teenage years has meant the boys aren’t exactly lining up for her. Emmett is the newly transferred football star and arguably the hottest guy on campus. But he’s a bit of a brainiac as well, devoted to playing piano and composing music, and he’s intrigued by CeCe. But like every other guy in school, he’s also drooling over Bryn, the drop-dead gorgeous teammate on CeCe’s volleyball team.
Bryn’s few brain cells go numb any time she’s around Emmett, so she begs advice from CeCe and enlists her help in talking to him — via text, of course, like any high school girl these days. CeCe’s reluctant but gets roped in, and before she knows it, she’s pretty much helped Bryn hoodwink the guy who’s become a good friend to her. And the more CeCe learns about Emmett, the more she falls for him. Surprisingly, Don’t Kiss the Messenger isn’t all “woe is me” about CeCe’s scar, though it’s made clear that it’s very conspicuous, and some of the students attempt to make fun of her for it. But CeCe’s also pretty comfortable with who she is, and she doesn’t let the idiots get her down. What does get her down, though, is Emmett’s fawning over Bryn, a walking reminder that CeCe is not and will never be “the pretty one.” Hell, at this point, she’d probably settle for just being “the plain one.”
I wanted to dislike Bryn immediately, especially since it seemed she was braindead half the time. But she really wasn’t a bad person; she just wasn’t at all right for Emmett, and it’s hard to dislike even the beautiful girl when she gets so nervous around a hot guy that she can’t think straight. By no stretch of the imagination is Bryn super intelligent, but I got the feeling she just wasn’t interested in much more than pop culture and hot boys. And while not ideal, that’s not exactly uncommon when it comes to teenage girls, is it? She seemed to have a good heart, considered CeCe her friend almost instantly, and just enjoyed being pretty enough to get guys’ attention. That’s certainly not a crime.
I was hooked on this book from the moment Emmett stood up to introduce “Sparkles” to the class, and the more his friendship with CeCe developed, the more I loved them both. They spoke in song lyrics and literature quotes, and it wasn’t just a few phrases thrown in to make them sound cool. They were truly geeks about what they loved, and even though Emmett thought the words he was falling in love with were Bryn’s, it was pretty clear that he was falling for the friend he hung out and studied with as well. They didn’t fall completely into geekdom, either. Instead, they were in many ways just normal teens who obsessed a little about things they loved and wanted to be themselves.
The only thing I didn’t like about the story is that we got a little peek into a hot and heavy moment with a guy that turned out to be a mistake for CeCe, as well as some hormone-fueled musings from Emmett about swimming with Bryn. It was all considerably clean for a romance, which is perfect for something aimed at a YA audience, but we really only got one heated kiss once things came together like they needed to. I wasn’t looking for these two to rush things or head into adult romance territory, and I’m really glad things stayed PG, but I wish Katie Ray hadn’t made those moments the only ones like that in the book. CeCe went so long just knowing that boys weren’t really attracted to her, at least not when they were sober and in well-lit rooms, so it would have been nice to get some little peek into a moment between CeCe and Emmett like they’d each had with other people.
If you hated Cyrano de Bergerac, or the Life of an Expert Swordsman or Roxanne movies, this probably isn’t the book for you. You’ll spend half the time wanting to scream because Roxane Emmett doesn’t realize Cyrano CeCe is the beautiful mind and heart behind Christian’s Bryn’s lovely face, and you’ll wonder how teenagers grow up to do anything worthwhile. But if you’re a fan of classic lit and modern, teenage geeky-cool love, this just might be the perfect book for you. And if I’m deciphering things correctly, it looks like this is just the first of a few books focused on the kids at Edgelake High School, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that there will be more (dare I hope for Tuba?) romances to come.
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