Nina Barnes thinks Valentine’s Day should be optional. That way single people like her wouldn’t be subjected to kissy Cupids all over the place. That is, until her mom moves them next door to the brooding hottie of Greenbrier High, West Smith. He’s funny, looks amazing in a black leather jacket, and he’s fluent in Harry Potter, but she’s not sure he’s boyfriend material.
West isn’t sure what to make of Nina. She’s cute and loves to read as much as he does, but she seems to need to debate everything and she has a pathological insistence on telling the truth. And West doesn’t exactly know how to handle that, since his entire life is a carefully constructed secret. Dating the girl next door could be a ton of fun, but only if Nina never finds out the truth about his home life. It’s one secret that could bring them together or rip them apart.
Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book is not for anyone who has to get in the last word, but it is for all book nerds, especially those who live next door to so called unapproachable gorgeous guys. There’s no debating the chemistry.
Can we talk about all my COVER LOVE for this book?
This isn’t the first book that I’ve read by Chris Cannon, and I’ve so far enjoyed everything that I’ve read by her. Her romances are always full of snarky, sarcastic female leads that keep me entertained the entire story. In The Dating Debate, Nina was Harry Potter– and dog-obsessed and refused to let anyone get away with 1) lying and 2) winning an argument.
Which made her relationship with her next door neighbor, West, complicated. West had a huge secret, and he also stood his ground on any subject, no matter if he was wrong or not.
So obviously, they made the perfect pair.
The chemistry was undeniable, though I felt at one point it was a little rushed and would have liked a little more explanation. However, how West feels about Nina sneaks up on him, so even though their first almost-kiss scene didn’t fit as perfectly as I would have liked, it also worked. I loved how they fell unconsciously into the relationship, like both of them woke up one day and, “Oh crap, I like her/him.”
Nina’s obsession with books speaks to every book lover – ever. She had hardbacks, paperbacks, and ebooks of Harry Potter, and she escaped to the bookstore when anything in her life went wrong. Or basically when she just needed to go somewhere that wasn’t around real people and with the only boys who would never break her heart – book boyfriends. She was super relatable, and every scene with her had me smiling and agreeing with her coping mechanisms.
West was not the perfect knight in shining armor. He was realistic, and he had a lot on his shoulders, carrying his mom’s secret around with an anxious, antisocial dad that made things in his life more complicated. The mental illness representation wasn’t perfect, but I liked how Cannon added it into the story. I empathized with West and wanted to give him as many hugs as Nina did. My heart melted for him, even if he did have a steely exterior. The book is told in dual perspective, so it was difficult not to feel for him. Another reason I love dual POV so much.
If you’re looking for a light romance, with some heavier topics thrown in, this is one for you. I read it on my breaks at work, and it provided for the perfect escape from reality. The book grabbed my attention and kept me entertained with all of West and Nina’s debates and their mutual love of books, especially Harry Potter.
“So, this whole dance thing?” West picked up a fork, took a bite of rice, and stared at me like he was waiting for me to give him an easy out. Not going to happen. Mess with a smart girl and suffer the consequences.
“You started it,” was the most amusing response I could come up with.
“No.” He shook his head as if trying to emphasize his response. “You started it when you invited me in for dinner.”
“Why? Because I knew you’d rather eat dirt than join us for rice? That’s your fault for being a suck-up and carrying my mom’s food.”
“I was being nice,” he shot back.
“No good deed goes unpunished.” I batted my eyelashes at him. “Besides, I was going to help her before you rushed over.”
He looked at me like I was crazy. “So I shouldn’t have helped your mom, but it’s okay for you to shove Cole off on Vicky.”
“Please. He’s a nice guy. She’ll fall for him…maybe because he’s the total opposite of you.”
He pointed his fork at me. “Where do you get off judging me?”
“I’m not judging you. I meant you’re all black-leather- jacket-brooding loner guy, and he’s Mr.-Happy-Sunshine- everyone-is-my-friend.”
“Fine. Mr. Sunshine is out of the way now, so there’s no need for us to go to the dance.”
“Nice try,” I said. “We’re going to the dance.”
“Because you said we were,” I said. “And lying is never acceptable. Don’t stress about this. I’m not proposing we run off to Mexico and get matching his-and-her tattoos. We’ll just go to the dance together. No big deal.”
“Right. Nothing is ever that simple.”
About the Author
Chris Cannon is the award-winning author of the Going Down In Flames series and the Boyfriend Chronicles. She lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and several furry beasts.
She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures or romantic comedies. You can find her online at www.chriscannonauthor.com.