Desert Isle Keeper
Gorgeous is about a teenager who gets something everyone thinks they want: Becky goes from ordinary to astonishingly beautiful, magically. Along the way, she falls in love, becomes an international celebrity, and unravels the mystery of her mother’s life prior to Becky’s birth. It is an improbable but gripping journey, which takes the protagonist from a Michigan trailer park to Buckingham Palace.
Becky Randle has a normal life. She’s eighteen, lives with her mom in their trailer, and she works at a department store with her best friend Rocher. Her beloved mother Roberta is overweight, and agoraphobic, spending all of her time at home. Suddenly, Roberta succumbs to illness, leaving Becky orphaned and devastated. Becky then receives a phone call that sets her on a journey to discover what it is she truly wants, and who she can be.
Becky meets Tom Kelly, the famous face of the Tom Kelly brand, which makes everything from crew socks to couture. He makes her an offer: he will design three dresses for her, and she will become the most beautiful woman in the world. And, even though it is impossible, even though it could never, ever happen, Becky turns into Rebecca, the most gorgeous, statuesque, sophisticated, attractive woman in the world. And then, Tom Kelly tells Becky the catch: she has one year to fall in love and get married if she wants to stay beautiful forever.
After a meteoric rise to international fame, Becky meets Prince Gregory, a sweet, charming guy who just happens to be the heir to the British crown. Their relationship takes off pretty quickly and unexpectedly Becky finds herself in the position of having to decide if she can hide behind Rebecca forever, or risk being loved as herself.
This is an inventive young adult romance. While a lot of YA romance is fairly trope-based and can feel rote, this story is original, gripping, and hilarious. Becky is an amazing, interesting protagonist with an original viewpoint, and she and Gregory have great chemistry. The secondary characters really stand on their own, able to support the story without drawing attention too much. Rocher, Becky’s best friend, is actually one of the best characters in the book, and her scenes with Becky are ridiculously funny. As befitting a book about beauty, the descriptions are luxurious and lovingly written, without relying on clichés. The dialogue is amazing, snappy and really funny, but without sacrificing depth. It’s just a well-written story, crafted with a love for the characters.
The only reason it’s an A- and not an A is because of some world-building issues. If you’re going to use magical elements, the story needs consistent rules which can be understood by the reader, and established boundaries of the powers within the world. The ending just doesn’t solve all of the problems created by the premise, though the revelations at the end do work in context. A lot of criticism of Gorgeous is directed at its impossibility, how improbable all of the events are, but the fun part about the book is how ridiculous it is. It is a love story that also factors in the need for self-love and what it means to be beautiful.