Book 2
The Fine Art of Pretending

April 5, 2016

Spencer Hill Contemporary




The Natural History of Us
by Rachel Harris   


One class assignment. One second chance at love. The school player is all in. Now he needs to win back the sweet commitment girl who's forever owned his heart.

Justin Carter has a secret. He's not the total player Fairfield Academy believes him to be. Not really. In fact, he used to be a one-woman guy...and his feelings for her never went away. Too bad he broke her heart three years ago and made sure to ruin any chance she'd ever forgive him.

Peyton Williams is a liar. She pretends to be whole, counting down the days until graduation and helping her parents at the family ranch. But the truth is, she's done everything she can to get over Justin, and salvation is just around the corner. With graduation one short month away, she'll soon break free from the painful memories and start her life fresh. Of course, she has to get through working with him on one last assignment first.

For Justin, nothing ever felt as right as being with Peyton, and now that fate's given him a shot at redemption, he's determined to make the most of it. And for Peyton...well, Justin Carter has always been her kryptonite.


"Good with flaws"  By Ashia 1 year ago

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After enjoying the first book, The Fine Art of Pretending, so much, I look forward eagerly to the next book, THE NATURAL HISTORY OF US, which features Justin Carter, the friend of the hero in the first book. While the story was well written with a heroine you want to root for, the book didn't meet up to my expectations.

Peyton and Justin had a past, but that was three years ago. Peyton just wanted graduation day to get here so she could put the past behind her and start her new life, but before she could do that, she had to get through one last class project together with Justin...

First, I love Peyton. She's a lovely heroine, so brave that she didn't let her disability stop her from anything she wanted to do. The first chapter was done real well, where we see Peyton getting some news that caused her to be afraid. I was immediately captivated and wondered what the news meant to her. That she and Justin, with whom she has a past, were paired together to work on the project was a great source of potential conflict and angst. I rubbed my hands in glee and sat back to enjoy the story.

However, I didn't like Justin. I thought he was arrogant and too sure of himself in winning over Peyton. While confidence is sexy in a guy (and girl, too!), I'd have loved to see more scenes where Justin was vulnerable and where he isn't at all sure that he'd win Peyton, that he could lose her. Such a scenario would certainly give his arrogance the much needed shake up. And I hate that he smirks so often, even back in the past.

Also, while we see alternative chapters in Justin's and Peyton's first person point of view, we have these not only in the present, but also in their past. I thought it disturbs the momentum. While I was getting ready to care about Peyton, for example, and get invested in what's happening to her in the present, I'm ripped back to the past, and whatever investment I made in her was wiped out and became zero again. Rinse and repeat. Thus, while the story elements are all here, I find that I can't really get into the story.

My overall rating is 3.5 stars. Just because this book didn't resonate with me doesn't mean it won't with you. If you like the first book, you might want to pick this up, especially if you're the type who likes to revisit previous characters, as both Brandon and Ally do have cameo roles here.

"Loved Peyton and getting to know her as a character. "  By Ali Kiki 1 year ago

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“The Natural History of Us” by Rachel Harris was emotional for me. It isn’t that it is sad. I became very attached to the characters and when they were dealing with turmoil, I was dealing with turmoil for them. “The Natural History of Us” is pretty special to me because one of the characters is named for my sister. I loved finally getting to know these beloved characters that I have been hearing so much about.

Peyton never truly got over Justin and Justin definitely did not get over Peyton. When these two get paired together in class for a project, Peyton thinks it will be a nightmare. All Peyton can think about is how Justin broke her heart freshman year. Since Peyton never really got over Justin, she has been pretending the last few years that she is fine and everything in life will be okay. It is more than just Justin that Peyton is running from, she is also afraid to start barrel racing her horse again.

Justin has a secret. This boy is more than in love with Peyton. He thinks that Peyton will never forgive him for the things that he has done, that he lead her to believe that he did. Justin feels like he isn’t worth anything to anyone. Now Justin has to figure out what he wants to do with his life and all he really wants is Peyton. When this school projects gives him the opportunity to try to win her back, he jumps on it.

I really liked Justin and Peyton’s story. I felt like these two characters were truly meant for each other. I was extremely impressed with the relationship these two had even when they were not in a relationship. Peyton is so stubborn. She doesn’t want to get her heart hurt, so she is bound and determine to ignore Justin and just work with him on the school project and nothing else.

I am a huge fan of Harris’ writing and I am always looking forward to her next book and “The Natural History of Us” was no exception. I loved this book. With that being said, I wish there was a bit more realistic panicking to the young adults. I understand that today’s society is completely okay with teenagers having sex, but really they shouldn’t be. It was made too casual for my taste and then facing the consequences, I feel like it was brushed over just a bit and jumped into the problem of why they broke up rather than the issue that Peyton and Justin were dealing with at hand. I do wish there was more awareness around the subject.

I thought the dual perspective with the dual timeline worked really well with Justin and Peyton’s stories. I thought it was one of the smoother dual timelines that I have read. I really enjoyed how Harris was able to keep each story and perspective straight in this book.

I loved Peyton and Justin. I am so glad that I got to know each of them better. I would love to see more of Fairfield Academy. I don’t think Harris’ should leave it behind just yet. I know some of the other characters deserve some stories too. I am looking forward to whatever she may have up her sleeves.

Originally posted on Dazzled by Books: