(Website, Twitter, Goodreads)Series: If Only #8
Published by Bloomsbury USA on March 29th 2016
Genres: Baseball & Softball, Friendship, Love & Romance, Performing Arts, Social Issues, Sports & Recreation, Theater, Young Adult
Enjoy What You Always Wanted and the other standalone titles in Bloomsbury's contemporary If Only romance line centered around an impossible problem: you always want what you can't have! Maddie Brooks has always had high standards for guys. But she has yet to find one who can live up to the romantic, classic Hollywood heartthrobs, especially the dreamy song-and-dance man Gene Kelly. When Maddie begins to carpool with Jesse Morales, her new neighbor and star pitcher of the high school baseball team, she's immediately struck by his wit, good looks, and love for his family--but a guy so into sports is definitely not her style. Then Maddie discovers that Jesse was raised a dancer and still practices in the community theater dance studio to keep in shape. Perhaps her perfect dream guy exists after all. But when it becomes clear that baseball--not dance--is Jesse's passion, can Maddie find a way to let her dream guy go and appreciate the charms of the amazing guy in front of her?
I actually watched Gene Kelly’s Summer Stock dance after finishing this book, and I think I’m in love with Gene Kelly now and need all of his movies. Maddie Brooks, the main character, was true to herself and didn’t let anyone define what she wanted to become. She had high expectations when it came to falling in love or simply having a boyfriend and wanted no less than her picture perfect romance. For a girl with her head in the clouds when it comes to ideas of love and romance, I found it easy to relate to her character, her strengths and weaknesses.
If you ask me what my favorite movie is, The Sound of Music pops out. The classic flair and chiseled male lead are only icing on top of the three hour long cake of song and dance, sprinkled with romance and love in all the unexpected places at the brink of World War II. I felt camaraderie with Maddie, lover of the classics, all of which have been added to my list of must-watch movies. She was an old soul trapped in modern day ideas of love and entertainment. Grand gestures and proclamations were what she searched for, and she speaks to all the hopeless romantics out there.
Before meeting Jesse Morales, I met his sister, Angela. At first I didn’t know what to make of her character but quickly enjoyed the friendship that formed between her and Maddie. The girl born to stand out was used to not fitting in, but Angela, as well as Tiffany and Sarah, showed her what having true friends meant, friends that accepted the girl that drew stars under her eye and wanted life to be a musical (but come on—don’t we all? No…). I got connected to these characters and didn’t want to let them go after the last page.
The romance between Jesse and Maddie was wonderful. Let’s be honest for a minute: we all have certain traits or likes and dislikes that we probably wouldn’t waver on when it comes to finding someone. What You Always Wanted digs deeply into preconceived notions of what people really want in a relationship, in life. I’ve never read about a character that was so open about how particular she was when it came to guys. When it came to anything, really, Maddie knew what she wanted—or she thought she did. Her relationship with Jesse—friendship and otherwise—taught her a lot about herself and complimented the rest of the story. Because in the end, what you’ve always wanted might not be what you always needed.
Can I have more of Maddie and Jesse? I hate that their story is over, but I can give it nothing but praise. I probably say ya’ll too much in regular conversation, but living in the south makes it inescapable, so I had the accents down. The characters are original, the Texan setting interesting (and made me want to visit again!), and the story left me wanting more. I’m left with hope about some for the other characters and can’t wait to see if another book is in store.
Love musicals, the classics, or an independent girl finding her way? This book is for you. There isn’t actually any music involved, but I felt like singing along. Escape to Texas for about three hundred pages—ya’ll will love it!