Natalie is living her dream: topping the charts and setting records as a Brazilian pop star…until she’s dumped spectacularly on live television. Not only is it humiliating—it could end her career.
Her PR team’s desperate plan? A gorgeous yet oh-so-fake boyfriend. Nati reluctantly agrees, but William is not what she expected. She was hoping for a fierce bad boy—not a soft-hearted British indie film star. While she fights her way back to the top with a sweet and surprisingly swoon-worthy boy on her arm, she starts to fall for William—and realizes that maybe she’s the biggest fake of them all. Can she reclaim her voice and her heart?
- Title: Like a Love Song
- Author: Gabriela Martins
- Publisher: Underlined
- Genre: Romance, Contemporary, YA
- Targeted Age Range: Young Adult
- Trigger Warnings: mentions of anxiety/panic attacks, death of a parent (dad), child abandonment/estranged parents, mentions of homophobia, mentions of xenophobia / racism
- Rating: ★★★★
Just like most other people, I’ve always been fascinated by the entertainment industry on some level. Like a Love Song combines some of my favorite tropes, set in the entertainment industry, and I knew I just had to read it! Oddly enough, my story with Like a Love Song started long before I was a book blogger: I was scrolling through the #notiontwt hashtag, and saw some screenshots that Gabhi posted of what Nati and Will’s notions would look like. Ever since that moment, I knew I had to read this book.
Like a Love Song follows Brazilian pop star Natalia ‘Nati’, who has the misfortune of becoming a meme queen after she’s unfortunately dumped on live television. In an attempt to salvage her image and career, her PR team sets up a plan for her to date William, a British indie film actor who is a 180 from her ex.
I’ll be the first to say that Natalia — or Natalie, as she’s known at the beginning of the book — and I didn’t exactly get along. I found her a little self-centered, and was a little disheartened at how much of her culture (and herself) she’d stripped away for fame, and to assimilate. But as I kept reading Like a Love Song, she really grew on me. I also think it’s important to remember that Nati is 17, and is handling stardom a lot better than I would at 17. As a result of her music and her celebrity status, Nati’s relationship with her extended family is a little tense. Her Portugese isn’t as fluent as the rest of her family, and she’s concerned with how others view her. Nati’s character arc was one of my favorites, and I loved watching her reinvent her image (a total reputation moment), and reconnect with her family. By the end of the book, I was really rooting for her happiness and success.
But Will? Oh, I adored Will. As a love interest, he was soft and charming and adorable and just sweet. How could someone not fall in love with him? With his heart of gold, and his sock collection, I could totally understand why Nati fell for him. I’m tempted to buy myself some fun socks in his honor. Like a Love Song is filled with so many wonderful tropes — not just the fake dating one, and there were times where I had to put down my kindle just to text my friend a no-context ‘EEEEEEEE!!!’. I really enjoyed Nati and Will’s dynamic, and loved how they understood one another on a deeper level. You could tell they really wanted the best for each other, no matter what.
Brenda and Padme, Nati’s best friends, were another highlight of Like a Love Song. Their friendship with Nati was so wholesome, and I loved their text conversations, and how supportive they were of one another.
At its core, Like a Love Song is a love letter to celebrity culture, yes, but more so, identity and belonging. Nati’s journey of discovering where she is is one that I loved following, and her diasporic experiences hit so close to home. I loved how authentic and real she was, and how we got to follow her messy, raw, embarrassing, and ultimately, wholesome journey. More importantly, I loved how Like a Love Song touches on privacy and entitlement, and how it criticizes the media’s role in our lives. Although quite predictable, I really loved Like a Love Song, and found it to be exactly what I was in the mood for: a quick light hearted, rom com read. I will say that I wished it was longer; at 304 pages, it felt really short and there were moments that I wanted to see more of! I would’ve loved to know more about Nati’s family, or how her rebranding went, and I did have some unanswered questions about William too, but ultimately, I loved how everything was neatly tied up at the end.
Many thanks to Underlined and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of the ARC!
GABRIELA MARTINS is a Brazilian kidlit author and linguist. Her stories feature Brazilian characters finding themselves and love. She was a high school teacher and has also worked as a TED Ed-Club facilitator, where she helped teens develop their own talks in TED format to present. She edited and self-published a pro-bono LGBTQ+ anthology (KEEP FAITH) with all funds going to queer people in need. When she’s not writing, she can be found cuddling with her two cats, or singing loudly and off-key. Her YA romances, LIKE A LOVE SONG and BAD AT LOVE, come out summer 2021 and summer 2022 (Underlined/PRH). Find her on Twitter at @gabhimartins, on Instagram at @gabhi, and visit her website at gabrielawrites.com.