Monday 16 December 2013

Book Review: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine.

Product details:
Publisher: Balzer & Bray.
 Hardcover, 384 pages.
Release date: December 31st 2013.
Rating: 4½ out of 5.
Ages: 14+
Source: Received from publisher for review.

Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.

 An uneventful day spent serving finger-food to wedding guests at her mother’s Arthurian themed inn turns dramatic for Wren Caswell when she saves a guest from choking on a cocktail weenie. Wren brushes off the incident, thinking it no big deal – anyone would have done the same in her position, right? But for Grayson Barrett it is a big deal. He can’t stop thinking about the girl that saved his life. He knows she’s special. He knows she’s just what he needs in his life right now.

When Wren meets Grayson for coffee, she’s not sure of him. And that’s maybe because he’s too sure of himself. But both Wren and Gray are looking for an escape: Wren wants to shed her ‘really nothing special’ good girl image, while Gray is running from a past that is not quite behind him.  In each other, what they find is amazing, but, the course of true love never runs smooth – especially not when one party is hiding a whole lot of secrets. Wren has heard the rumors about Grayson’s past –and he confesses that he was kicked out of St. Gabe’s -where he ruled both the school and the lacrosse team – for being a “term paper pimp”. But that’s just part of his story.  While Wren is willing to get to know Gray a little better – after all, who better than him with which to shed her good girl image - she’s not quite sure she can trust him with her heart.  What, Wren wonders, might lie behind that perfect Grayson Barrett smile?

The Promise of Amazing is the super cute debut from Robin Constantine. Featuring a good girl, a bad boy, a large helping of opposites attract and a sweet, tender love story with a whole lot of obstacles thrown in its way, this book had me at hello. Or, rather, it had me at its cover art. Isn’t the cover of this book all kinds of cute! Thankfully, the story here lives up to the cute cover. Well, at least it did for me. If you’ve been suffering from Gossip Girl withdrawals since the ultimate guilty-pleasure series ended, then this is the book for you.  Grayson has the looks of Nate Archibald (le swoon!). He’s prone to some of Nate’s more idiotic qualities too – giving your new girlfriend a stolen necklace as a gift?!- while his past and the secrets he’s hiding is totally Chuck Bass territory. He’s also got a few unsavory friends who are out to ruin his new life and the happiness he’s found with Wren.  So, while this is a sweet contemp, it has a dark side and a little bit of mystery to it too. Sure, there are first dates and first kisses, but The Promise of Amazing is also a little bit Gossip Girl, a little bit Bling Ring, and a whole lot of fun.

And Gray. Ah, he’s an acquired taste, this one.  I have to say that I liked him a lot despite his faults. Maybe it’s because I pictured Chase Crawford when I was reading this book – I can’t say for sure – but while Gray messes up A LOT, and makes a whole lot of bad decisions, I was on his side from the start. Yes, he’s done bad things in the past – some things that when I think about them are pretty unforgivable – but he’s trying to be a better person. He’s trying to redeem himself. It helps too that he part-narrates the book, so he gets to explain himself.  Still, I have a feeling that a lot of readers won’t warm to Gray no matter what.  Wren, on the other hand, can’t get enough of the guy.  Good girl falls for bad boy – it’s a cliché, and so is the insta-love that follows between these two – but it worked for me. I rooted for Wren and Gray right from the start- even when Gray had me rolling my eyes at his actions. “Just tell her the truth already” I yelled at my e-reader multiple times, but no, telling the truth right from the start never made for a good episode of Gossip Girl, and here the payoff here was worth the wait.

A couple things made The Promise of Amazing stand out for me. Apart from being cute with a capital C, I loved Constantine’s writing style and I loved the right from the start Wren’s personality and her world were very well developed; from her worries about her own academic and personal inadequacies to her home life, where her two older siblings and their dramas overshadow her somewhat, to her awesome friends, I felt like I knew Wren right from the get go. And, as such, I cared about what happened to her throughout the book.  As for those friends: Wren has the best friends – Jazz and Mads are supportive and always there for their girl when she needs them.  This book has great secondary characters – something I always love to see!

If you are looking for an absorbing read with a very hot male lead this holiday season, then look no further than The Promise of Amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed this one from start to finish – so much so that it’s going on my end-of-year-favourites-list. I look forward to reading more from Robin Constantine in the future.  She’s definitely one to watch!


  1. This definitely sounds like it's as cute as it looks! And I love hearing that her world is developed and the side characters are great! I'm glad you enjoyed it, Leanna!

  2. ChristinaBookAddict17 December 2013 at 19:41

    Awesome review! I absolutely LOVE that cover as well…it's so cute. I love that you compare the male lead to Nate from GG (I agree…swoon!) but he has Chuck Bass (my fave!) kind of secrets/problems. I'm sure Grayson will be a favorite of mine too. This absolutely sounds like a book that I must get my hands on, esp. if it made your favorites list.

  3. It is so cute! I've actually seen quite a few mixed reviews for this one, but I loved it! :)

  4. I think you'd really like this one, Christina. It is super cute! Definitely one of the best YA Contemps I've read this year!

  5. Jess Hearts Books19 December 2013 at 19:08

    I'm so happy you enjoyed this one! I was initially really looking forward to it and then I read some bad reviews and it got pushed to the side but you have me excited to read it again now! After reading your review I can see myself picturing Gray as Chace Crawford now too! ;)

  6. I'm kind of surprised by the bad reviews for this one, Jess. I'm not quite sure what people were expecting! Look forward to seeing what you think of it. I hope you love it just like I did! :)


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