Anything to Have You by Paige Harbison

Anything To Have You
Written by Paige Harbison
Contemporary, Mature Themes
Published in Australia February 1st 2014
304 Pages
Thank you to Harlequin Australia
Nothing should come between best friends, not even boys. ESPECIALLY not boys.

Natalie and Brooke have had each others backs forever. Natalie is the quiet one, college bound and happy to stay home and watch old movies. Brooke is the movie, the life of every party, the girl everyone wants to be.

Then it happens, one crazy night that Natalie can't remember and Brooke's boyfriend, Aiden, can't forget. Suddenly there's a question mark in Natalie and Brooke's friendship that tests everything they thought they knew about each other and has both girls discovering what true friendship really means

The premise of Anything To Have You sounded like a mature contemporary that I couldn't wait to begin. But this needs to come with a warning label. Don't try this at home kids.

Natalie and best friend Brooke couldn't be more different. Natalie is quiet, preferring to stay home with her father, watch old Hitchcock films and is happy being single. Brooke on the other hand is a wild party girl, she drinks in excess, flirts in excess and seems to believe that girls should always look their best, leaving an excess of love drunk boys in her wake. Brooke craves male attention, and couldn't care less who she hurts in order to boost her own ego. She's not a typical mean girl, just incredibly self indulgent and self centered, who undermines Natalie to every degree. It's their senior year and Brooke wants to party, dragging Natalie and boyfriend Aiden along for the ride.

To state that Brooke is self destructive is an understatement. She's a binge drinker with no regard for Aiden, admitting that she needs the attention of other guys by wanting them to want her. So when the reclusive Natalie becomes the new center of attention, Brooke is insanely jealous and demands to find her a boyfriend. Apparently she's nothing without wanting to be beautiful and attract male attention. But when Brooke encourages Natalie to drink, she can't remember what happened that night, apart from having sex with someone. Party goers recall seeing Natalie making out with popular, but nice guy Eric, so Natalie assumes that in her drunken state, Eric is the one. Considering she had actually lost her virginity in a similar circumstance, you would think the girl would have learnt from her past mistakes. 

With Brooke now out of control, Natalie finds herself spending time with Aiden, her feelings resurfacing again to a time before he was with Brooke. Although the two have much more in common, honesty is not one of them. They may not be physical with one another, but have emotionally bonded, and both seemingly want more than just the easy friendship the two still share. Brooke is on the verge of hitting rock bottom, partying with local bad boy Reed, and oblivious to her boyfriend and best friend pulling away. 

But regardless of what the title suggests, you don't need to go above and beyond to get what you want. Being shallow, self indulgent and making stupid choices will get you there in less than three easy steps. It's the go to guide for teens on how to ruin your life, and your reputation.

My Thoughts

Let me start by adding that this book isn't at all horribly written, it was actually difficult to put down and I read it almost in one sitting. It isn't the characters themselves as such, but the actual storyline. It's ridiculous. It highlights unprotective sex, cheating, lies, secrets, binge drinking, drug taking, and no parental guidance. Natalie has no backbone, and although she is seemingly happy being on the outside of the teen social scene, all it took was one party and she morphed into a binge drinking idiot. She allows Brooke to plan her life and push her towards dating Eric, even though she has no interest in him whatsoever. Brooke clearly has issues, and neither Natalie or Aiden could take time out from their lives to give her a harsh dose of reality? Without intervening, they've become enablers.

Aiden seems to be the neglected boyfriend who is the only one who is still in the relationship. He's the nice, sensible one who doesn't deserve to be treated as an accessory. But don't be fooled, he's an asshole wrapped in an attractive package. My biggest issue, that although these are very real situations that teens navigate each day through the choices they make, there doesn't seem to be any learning curve here. Just carry on and it'll sort itself out. There are a few instances of living with the consequences of your actions, but considering the intended teen audience, I couldn't see the positive message it should have portrayed. Girls with no self respect, sex that could be considered as rape when one participant has blacked out, the lying, cheating and no fear of repercussions, as there were none.

It really does undo what mothers are trying to instill in their impressionable teen girls. I take no pleasure in writing a negative review, but sadly I can't imagine this book not leaving female readers outraged.


  1. From the synopsis, I thought the whole book sounded really Gossip Girl-esque - which would definitely appeal to the teenage audience. The cover gives nothing away, it looks like any normal contemporary novel. Which is why I'm so shocked to find out that the book is so dark. The characters sound awful, and the lack of consequences make me cringe. If I were a mother, I would never let my kids go anywhere near such a book. The cover and blurb is way too deceiving. Sorry it didn't work out for you Kelly.

    1. Hey Joy, It's hard. We don't like to write negative reviews, but there was nothing remotely enjoyable about this one. I know I'm no where near the target demographic, but I'd be horrified if I had a teen daughter who enjoyed this one.

  2. Oh gosh. I probably will not be reading this. It's mostly because of the stupidity. I read a book recently and the characters were making incredibly dumb mistakes and it was...normalised? I don't even think that's healthy. So I'm with you on this, most definitely.

    1. That sounds pretty much the same as this one Cait, expect this has what could be considered as rape that's involved, and it's just skimmed over and not even questioned as a crime. The main character was heavily intoxicated, had sex while blacked out, but the person she slept with not only was unprotected, but he also keeps it from her.

  3. Wow, this totally sounds like you needed to rant! I am not supportive of books that glorify unhealthy attitudes for women, and this sounds like it. Thanks for the honest review Kelly.

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    1. You're spot on Jeann. The teen lifestyle in this was just party, drink until your catatonic, drugs and that I don't give a shit attitude. No parental guidance apart from the occasional random 'Think of your future'. But when you soon realise that there doesn't seem to be any lessons learned, it gets old.

  4. Hahaha, great review. I had heard good things about this novel, but thank you for saving me the time. I'm going to be skipping this one. :)

    1. Hey Jackie and thanks for stopping by. Me too, I seen a few reviews that said it was a coming of age contemporary, and those are my weakness. But it just didn't work out that way for me, it ended up being a little like a car accident, you just can't look away.

  5. Yikes! It's horrible that the cover and synopsis were so misleading! It's horrible that the author portrays doing such bad things in such a positive light - without the characters getting any consequences either!

    At least the writing and the pacing were engaging though! It's always great to find at least one thing that you enjoy in a book!

    I think I'm going to take your advice and give this one a miss. All the problems you had with it sound like they'd bother me as well, so I don't think this is going to be worth the read. As always, brilliant review Kelly and thanks for sharing! Hopefully your next read will be better!

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

    1. Thanks Zoe. Like yourself, I'm all for difficult reads with real problems, even drama, but when it's actual teen issues like binge drinking, drugs, and sex when one party isn't fit to consent, then you expect them to be dealt with. When you've got the intended teen audience in mind, there should have been some form of action and consequences, not just skimmed over.


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