Review: One of the Guys by Lisa Aldin

One of the Guys by Lisa Aldin

Tomboy to the core, Toni Valentine understands guys. She’ll take horror movies, monster hunts and burping contests over manicures. So Toni is horrified when she’s sent to the Winston Academy for Girls, where she has to wear a skirt and learn to be a lady while the guys move on without her.

Then Toni meets Emma Elizabeth, a girl at school with boy troubles, and she volunteers one of her friends as a pretend date. Word spreads of Toni’s connections with boys, and she discovers that her new wealthy female classmates will pay big money for fake dates. Looking for a way to connect her old best friends with her new life at school, Toni and Emma start up Toni Valentine’s Rent-A-Gent Service.

But the business meets a scandal when Toni falls for one of her friends–the same guy who happens to be the most sought-after date. With everything she’s built on the line, Toni has to decide if she wants to save the business and her old life, or let go of being one of the guys for a chance at love.

Title: One of the Guys
Author: Lisa Aldin
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Publication date: February 10, 2015

I received One of the Guys from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Toni grew up the only girl on her street so she grew up playing with the boys. At seventeen, she’s never even had a female friend. I like Toni and I like that she doesn’t go around announcing that she doesn’t have any female friends because she doesn’t get along with girls. (I hate that! If you can’t get along with 50% of the population, you’re the problem.) It just works out that all of her friends are male because they’re around.

The group of four all go by nicknames: Loch, Ollie, Cowboy, and McRib (Toni). The guys are all Toni’s best friends, but they don’t really act like it. The thing that bonds them the most, and is actually the only thing they seem to have in common, is hunting for monsters in the lake. They all believe they saw one once years ago and they’ve been looking for it again ever since. But now the others aren’t really into “Champ hunting” anymore. It does sound a little juvenile to be doing it constantly and to take it so seriously, but Toni is really into it and uses it to try to keep her group together, especially after she’s shipped off to the Winston Academy.

Now surrounded by girls, Toni resists at first but soon finds out that she does have a feminine side after all. She’s introduced to it by her new friend Emma, who happens to be my favorite of her friends. I thought Emma was going to be a rival or a Mean Girl at first, but she and Toni really get along. Toni wouldn’t be able to conduct business with the other girls at Winston without Emma. She doesn’t have the social skills or the connections that Emma does. The Rent-a-Gent business is the best part of the book. Who would ever have guessed how many girls would need to rent a platonic date?

Somewhere around the middle of the book, things slow down and begin to drag. Toni settles in at Winston, starts her business, and tries (with little success) to get the guys to pay attention to her while they go out of their way to avoid her. I started to wonder if there was a point to all of this. It’s obvious that Toni is interested in one of her friends and that he feels the same way about her. About three-fourths of the way through, she suddenly starts referring to him in her head by his real name for no reason that is ever explained. It doesn’t even make any sense to flip a switch and start thinking of him by a different name. It makes him seem like a completely different character to me and it’s hard to remember that she’s talking about a guy who has been in the book the whole time.

There’s an interesting subplot about Toni’s family. Her father died a few years ago and her mother has remarried. Toni and her stepfather Brian are still finding their way with each other. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, but in the end Toni finds out that Brian really cares and is trying in his own way.

While the basic story is good, One of the Guys feels a little unpolished. There are a lot of plot points brought up that are dropped with no follow-through. I’d like to know, for example (and this is just one example), how Toni and her friend/boyfriend plan to deal with attending different colleges in the fall. He’s upset when he finds out that she’s not planning to attend UVM with him the way she’s said all along she would, but…that’s it. There’s no resolution. There’s no “I love you! We can make it work!” Are they going to try? Are they going to break up at the end of the summer? I don’t know. Why don’t I know?

3 1/2 stars