Holiday Stuff · Romance · YA

Decked With Holly by Marni Bates


Smartly blending of-the-moment pop culture references and timeless themes, Bates follows her YA debut, “Awkward”,  with a hilarious, over-the-top adventure about a teen girl who becomes the fake girlfriend of a cute rock star.

Taking a Christmas cruise with her two cousins from hell isn’t Holly’s idea of a good time. And when seasickness forces her into an open suite, she’s pepper-sprayed by a gorgeous guy called Nick. But when Holly makes her exit, she’s greeted by a horde of screaming teenage fans. Because Nick happens to be Dominic Wyatt, drummer for one of the hottest bands in America. Suddenly rumours are swirling and Holly’s face is plastered all over the Internet. The band can’t risk a scandal destroying their family-friendly image, so Dominic convinces Holly to be his fake girlfriend – just for two weeks. How bad could it be to be “fauxmantically” involved with a cute rock star? She’s about to find out…


Holly is an orphan living in Los Angeles.  Her parents were killed when she was a baby and she has been raised by her over-protective but loving grandfather.  She’s surrounded by “family” in the form of her critical aunt and her nasty, cartoonish twin cousins, who like to make her life a living hell and call her Annie (as in “little orphan…”).  Holly is constantly doing embarrassing things that her cousins use as threats to get her to do things for them.  In her corner, she has her grandfather, who she loves and is worried about because he’s getting old.  She also has her best friend, Jennifer, who gets her to get out in the world and do things.  Jennifer is almost the opposite of Holly.  She’s optimistic and enthusiastic and a real romantic.  But the girls are a good fit, just like any real life best friends, and they put up with each other’s foibles because there is no one else who goes together so well with themselves.

Dominic is a drummer in the band ReadySet (they were introduced in the book Awkward).  He’s at the end of his rope because all the band has been doing is work, work, work.  He needs a break.  He suggests a week-long vacation to his bandmates so they can meet with their significant others and he can get some much needed rest, even if he does have to take a meeting with a cruise-ship owner regarding ReadySet doing work on their ships.  As someone so famous, he knows and understands that he will have to paste a smile on his face for the hoards of teenage girls who will attempt to throw themselves at him, but it’s all part of the game. As long as he has some quiet and a place to get away to by himself, it’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make.


Holly is thrown out of her room by her cousins and with no where else to go, she stumbles into what looks like an empty suite in order to use the bathroom before she finds herself a nice comfy lounge chair on deck to pass out on.  When she is confronted by “Nick” with pepper spray in the face (he’s mistaken her for one of those screaming fan-girls…she is, after all, wearing a ReadySet shirt).  Feeling guilty (and realizing she has no idea who he is), he allows Holly to spend the night on his couch.  The next morning, still unaware of just who Nick really is, she attempts to leave, only to be confronted by a mob of fans and their cell-phone cameras.  Nick pulls her back in and that picture that makes it to the gossip websites and, combined with Holly’s still puffy pepper-sprayed eyes,  looks like Dominic has been hitting his new girlfriend.

In an effort to appease the public, Dominic asks Holly to be his pretend girlfriend and spend time with him in public and erase the bad publicity.  Holly still needs a place to stay and being with Dominic could shut up her uber-critical family, so she agrees, and then quickly gets caught up in being with a rock star, even if it is a fake relationship.


It was a cute and funny book, if a little far-fetched.  I don’t think I believe that a famous 21 year old rock star wouldn’t try to get whatever he could from Holly, a naïve fan who was obviously hot for his bod.  Maybe I’m cynical, but I really didn’t believe him to be so goody-goody.  However, there were parts that I really liked.  I loved how Dominic was very close to and very protective of his bandmates, and eventually Holly.  I loved Holly’s grandfather and her best friend.  I liked that Dominic was slow to realize Holly’s attractiveness, especially because of the way they met and because she wasn’t stunningly attractive.

What I disliked is that their relationship didn’t really seem like it could work, especially in the limited time-frame of the cruise, despite being alone together for most of that time.   It felt unrealistic and contrived.  I am all for a heroine who thinks she’s plain but is actually very pretty, but Dominic is a rock-star.  He could have anyone he wanted and he initially really disliked Holly and actually thought she was unattractive.  And Holly wasn’t throwing herself at him.  I also disliked that Holly essentially uses him 1) for money (he hires her), 2) to get a good present for her birthday, 3) to become popular at school.

Another thing I really hated was her family.  Her aunt couldn’t go five seconds without commenting on Holly’s weight and the cousins were just awful!  Seriously, there was no real reason for their contempt of her, at least nothing that was explained.  And even when Holly stands up to them, they still get away with everything.  Her grandfather, who I did like, was clueless.  Like, he couldn’t see and hear how his daughter and grandchildren were treating Holly?  That was very irritating because they did not hide it.

I also found it hard to believe that Dominic wouldn’t be trying to get intoHolly’s pants because 1) HE’S A ROCK STAR, 2) she thinks he’s hot, 3) he’s a 21 year old GUY.

In the end though, it was a quick, cute book and I love books that are centered around Christmas.  Although the end felt a little rushed.  All in all, I think it should have been longer in order to more realistically get Dominic and Holly to fall for each other.  I preferred Marni Bates first book, Awkward, much more.

Pecans:  3/5

8 thoughts on “Decked With Holly by Marni Bates

  1. It sounds like a cute concept, even if I might be driven crazy over the terrible family. Thanks for the review! 🙂

    1. the concept was cute and I was really looking forward to it because I Awkward, but I was just a little underwhelmed.

  2. The plot sounds like a lot of fun, but the character flaws might be a little much. She’s into him for the money and presents? He thinks she’s unattractive? How in the world do they realistically (at least realistic for the romance world) overcome these things and fall in love? I still need to read Awkward, though, that ones sounds pretty cute.

    1. well, first impressions are not always the truth, right? but it was cute if a little implausible 🙂 Awkward is great, I loved it. it was a little out there, but realistically, you know? like, something weird can happen to anyone.

  3. I liked this book, but not as much as Awkward. I do know what you mean, though, about how fast their romance was – I had a hard time with that. But, although it was a bit unrealistic, I still enjoyed it. I loved the pregnant zombie scene. I was laughing so much.

  4. I really want to read this one. I had some of the same problems with Awkward – like it was a little unrealistic, but it just sort of worked. This one sounds like a Hallmark movie, which are always super cheesy and unrealistic, but still feel good times. 🙂

    1. exactly, it’s penny candy, still candy, but not of the best quality. I bought this, I can send it to you 🙂

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