Beauty and the beat by Kate Forster

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Smitten series. Hardie Grant Egmont, Richmond, 2013. ISBN 9781742972541.
(Age: 16+) This novel is a pleasant enough foray into the romance genre but hardly groundbreaking. Somewhat formulaic in style, plotting and characterisation, we know from the opening chapter that the 'Princess Perfect' Mia and the 'bad-boy' Rob will be together by novel's end because they so clearly can't stand each other as they make eye contact across the crowded hall at their school assembly. This is pretty standard Mills and Boon territory. Or maybe it is simply following the script of the musicals that Mia adores (and Rob despises)? For music forms the background to these characters' lives and to the storyline.
Of course, we soon discover that neither character is quite as the other one assumes them to be: beneath her Princess Perfect facade, Mia is a bundle of self-doubt with a serious anorexia problem whilst Rob isn't so much a bad boy as an understandably angry young man, due to family grief. Both find solace in music and eventually, in each other's arms.
Bossy Mia may not be the most likeable girl at the opening of the novel but readers are sure to be smitten by hunky Rob with his smirk, his sadness and his hidden kind heart. His responsible approach to sex is sure to win some hearts too.
For teenage girls looking for a light romantic novel with plenty of pop culture and musical references, this story will no doubt provide an entertaining read.
Deborah Marshall