[Blog Tour] Review + Excerpt: The Natural History of Us by Rachel Harris & Giveaway

The Natural History of Us (The Fine Art of Pretending #2)

by Rachel Harris
Release date: April 5th 2016
Published by: Spencer Hill Press
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | IndieBound | Order Personalized Copy until April 8th Here

One class assignment. One second chance at love. The school player is all in. Now he needs to win back the sweet commitment girl who's forever owned his heart.

Justin Carter has a secret. He's not the total player Fairfield Academy believes him to be. Not really. In fact, he used to be a one-woman guy...and his feelings for her never went away. Too bad he broke her heart three years ago and made sure to ruin any chance she'd ever forgive him.

Peyton Williams is a liar. She pretends to be whole, counting down the days until graduation and helping her parents at the family ranch. But the truth is, she's done everything she can to get over Justin, and salvation is just around the corner. With graduation one short month away, she'll soon break free from the painful memories and start her life fresh. Of course, she has to get through working with him on one last assignment first.

For Justin, nothing ever felt as right as being with Peyton, and now that fate's given him a shot at redemption, he's determined to make the most of it. And for Peyton...well, Justin Carter has always been her kryptonite.


“It’s not hate or anger pooling in my gut – God, I wish it were. More like humiliation, hurt, and intense regret. Also a dash of loneliness and stupid longing.”

Oh, this book. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t hooked by the first chapter! I tend to avoid second-chance romances because I can’t bear to see the characters relive the past that hurt them. I sympathize too much, not to mention my heart is seriously weak against fictional heartaches. I mean, no matter how light the book is supposed to be, there’s still always that tinge of heartache that gets to me. But Rachel Harris is one of those authors whose books have yet to fail me. As well, I liked Justin from The Fine Art of Pretending a lot so reading The Natural History of Us is just simply inevitable.

But as expected, The Natural History of Us was a little difficult to read for me. Not because it’s a horrible book but because of the emotions! It’s told from dual POV’s of Justin and Peyton in two alternating timelines: (1) freshman year before the “disaster” and; (2) senior year before graduation. That said, I got to really relive the time when Peyton got her heart broken by Justin. I was so nervous while reading the past because their freshman year romance was so cute, so sweet, and so natural—it was the kind that gave even me, as a reader, butterflies in the stomach—and I kept dreading the moment where everything would turn upside down. And lo, because when it did, it almost gave me a heart attack. I didn’t expect *that* to be in this book. Really, why did you do that, Rachel Harris?? These poor kids! And my poor heart!

If you’ve read The Fine Art of Pretending, chances are you already love Justin Carter. He is the catcher of the school’s baseball team and also the resident player, but we’ve all guessed from the first book that there’s more to him than just a guy who hooked up with random women. Justin grew up with his father, stepmother, and a younger half-brother. Not really feeling what it means to be part of a family nor how to be loved by a parent. They even leave him in their huge house when the three of them go on vacations. His brother is the only person in the family who seemed to actually love him, but he’s too young to catch on with the family’s issues. This truly broke my heart and I felt so much for Justin. Even when Peyton’s parents treated Justin as their son it wasn’t the same because they weren’t real family.

Peyton Williams, however, is the quiet girl who lives on a ranch and loves baseball and rodeo. She has Guillian Barre Syndrome but this never stopped her from chasing her dreams. Even if Peyton was only mentioned a couple of times in the first book, it was enough to make me curious about her and my curiosity has been well paid because I love her as a character. Her family is struggling to make the ends meet because of her illness that forced her to stay in a hospital for a long time. Peyton may be quiet but she’s bold, headstrong, and doesn’t back down from any challenge.

Harris’ The Natural History of Us perfectly captured the sweetness and the troubles of a teenage romance. It’s honest and it doesn’t hold back from telling events that are usually taboo in the usual light YA because such things do happen in real life even at a young age. Justin and Peyton are genuine characters. They aren’t flawless. At 15, they were reckless and confused but it doesn’t mean they will stay like that forever. The experience they gained helped in order to fix their mistakes from the past. I know I said that I tend to avoid second-chance romance books but after reading this book, I’m really craving for more of its kind!

Further, the format of the storytelling also brought out the best of the plot. It’s like reading two different stories at once because both have the kind of beginning that will set off your curiosity, a middle whose secrets will keep you second guessing, and an end which ultimately connect the two stories together. I don’t consider this book a light read–semi-light, maybe, but it doesn’t change the fact that The Natural History of Us is one enthralling read that demands to be finished in one sit.

The Natural History of Us maybe a sequel to The Fine Art of Pretending but it can also be read as a standalone.

A review copy was received for a blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars!


Planting my feet on the floor, I grab the assignment packet. I thumb through the long list of group dates, taking note of all the partner-time required (a lot), and a rush of endorphins floods my bloodstream. My heart pounds just like it did when I tagged out Jefferson to win last night’s game, and when a relieved exhale parts my lips, I hear Carlos say, “Uh oh.”

“What?” I ask distractedly.

“You’ve got that psycho look in your eyes.” I raise my eyes and he waves a finger back and forth in front of my face. “The same one you had before we egged Crestmont High last week. You’re planning something.”

Adrenaline bounces my knee. “Maybe I am.”

My hand beats out a rhythm on my thigh as I realize that this is exactly what I’d been waiting for. The answer to the itch under my skin. My extreme restlessness. It’s not a new feeling—if I were honest, it’s been on a low simmer for years. Being with Aly just brought it to a boil. I’ve been numb ever since I lost Peyton, and this… this insane marriage project is my chance to finally make things right.

“Tell Abuelita I’ll be there,” I say, returning my gaze to the back of Peyton’s head. “And that I’ll be bringing a girl even she can’t complain about.” From the corner of my eye, I see him stare at me in confusion. “I’m bringing my wife.”

Carlos’s mouth opens in a mix of shock and doubt and I don’t blame him. I saw Peyton’s reaction, too. But I have three whole weeks between now and then, and a plan taking shape in my mind.
Peyton may think she hates me, but that’s only because she doesn’t know the total truth. Soon, that’ll change—but I can’t rush it. I have to start small. Ease into it. Use these dates and outings to show her how much I’ve changed since I was fifteen and screwed everything up.

But I will do it.

“Mark my words, Carlos,” I say, feeling excited about a girl for the first time in a very long time. But then, that’s because it’s not just any girl; it’s my girl. She just doesn’t know it yet. “I’m gonna be the best damn husband in this entire class.”

He looks at me uncertainly, but that doesn’t faze me. I won’t let it. I know I don’t deserve it. Hell, I never deserved her. But I’m not letting anything stop me. Not this time. Thanks to Coach Stasi, I’m going to remind Peyton of all the reasons she fell for me in the first place.

And then I’m going to make her do it again.


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About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Harris writes humorous love stories about sassy girls-next-door and the hot guys that make them swoon. Vibrant settings, witty banter, and strong relationships are a staple in each of her books…and kissing. Lots of kissing.

An admitted Diet Mountain Dew addict and homeschool mom, she gets through each day by laughing at herself, hugging her kids, and watching way too much Food Network with her husband. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult romances, and LOVES talking with readers!


  1. Thank you so much! ~Jessica, InkSlinger PR

  2. You've made me curious about this one, Chel, and I want to know what caused Peyton and Justin to break up. I think I'll add it to my wishlist since you enjoyed it so much.


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