Cait’s Review of “This Time It’s Real” by Ann Liang

By: Cait Marie


When seventeen-year-old Eliza Lin’s essay about meeting the love of her life unexpectedly goes viral, her entire life changes overnight. Now she has the approval of her classmates at her new international school in Beijing, a career-launching internship opportunity at her favorite magazine…and a massive secret to keep.

Eliza made her essay up. She’s never been in a relationship before, let alone in love. All good writing is lying, right?

Desperate to hide the truth, Eliza strikes a deal with the famous actor in her class, the charming but aloof Caz Song. She’ll help him write his college applications if he poses as her boyfriend. Caz is a dream boyfriend — he passes handwritten notes to her in class, makes her little sister laugh, and takes her out on motorcycle rides to the best snack stalls around the city.

But when her relationship with Caz starts feeling a little too convincing, all of Eliza’s carefully laid plans are threatened. Can she still follow her dreams if it means breaking her own heart?


This book was absolutely adorable! I’ll be honest, I started the audiobook at random because it looked cute and I needed a YA romance to destress. I was not expecting to love it as much as I did.

It was such a fun story, but it was also very moving. There were a few parts that made me tear up. Eliza has moved around her whole life, making it difficult to hold on to friendships. And she puts on a brave face most of the time, acting like it doesn’t bother her, but it obviously does. Though I didn’t have the same sort of upbringing, I faced losing friends a lot throughout life, and that deep loneliness was so relatable.

Then, there is Caz, who’s so closed off, keeping his superstar persona on at all times and not letting people see the real him. He can’t handle the idea of being vulnerable, until he starts letting Eliza in. Again, I’m not famous, but that need to pretend to be something you’re not was also relatable.

Together, they’re just perfect. They’re not enemies in the beginning, but they’re not friends, and Eliza finds him annoying. Of course, as they continue with this fake relationship, they naturally grow closer, and the chemistry was definitely there. Every once in a while, I read a romance that genuinely gives me that butterflies-in-my-stomach feeling, and this book hit that mark. I’ll tell you, I read a lot of romance books, and it doesn’t happen that often.

The ending felt a little rushed in a way, but it wasn’t too bad. It may just be me wanting more because I loved the characters and story so much.

Overall, I adored this book and highly recommend it. It’s one I would happily re-read. I’m for sure going to see what else Liang has written and keep an eye out for new books!

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