ARC Book Review: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

Posted December 27, 2013 by Debby in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Book Review: The Promise of Amazing by Robin ConstantineThe Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine
Published by Balzer + Bray on December 31st, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.

1.5 Stars

The Promise of Amazing promised amazing things. ZING. I had to get that out of the way. I just had to. Now that we’ve gotten the title pun in here, let’s see… did it deliver on its promise? Tragically, no. But I won’t say that this book was completely terrible either. I mean, it has a pretty cover. Look at that! Ain’t it purty?


If one enters this book in the right mood, it can be quite enjoyable. Let me clarify what I mean. When I started reading The Promise of Amazing, I was desperately in need of some winter-themed fluff. And this book takes place in the winter. And the plot is very much romance-centric. So it was a comfortable kind of read, and it read quite quickly. It was easily digestible, and that was something I was desperately in need of.

I quite enjoyed the romance between Wren and Grayson! I definitely felt some of the chemistry between them, if only because Robin Constantine sure knows how to write kissing scenes. A lot of bloggers have been calling it instalove, and yeah, I see where they’re coming from. But I do feel like the instalove was mostly onesided, and surprisingly not on the girl’s side. No, Wren was much more hesitant about trusting Grayson and letting him get closer to her. I could actually follow her logic and really enjoyed her narrations. I did feel a connection to her, because a lot of her worries, not just about the romance, but about college and the future, mirrored my own in high school. I definitely thought she was a realistic main character.

But Grayson… oh man did I want to shoot that guy sometimes. The instalove is 90% from his side. Within two brief meetings with Wren, the first of which entirely consists of him puking on her shoes, he starts saying things like, “There was a genuineness about Wren that made me feel like I didn’t have to put up a front. Like she really saw me.” *barfs* And then, “The way we met, at this point in my life, had to mean something. I needed to see her again.”


Thank you, Draco. This is utter wish fulfillment bullshit. Show me a teenage guy who thinks like this and I’ll show you a flying pig. It doesn’t help either that in spite of these random interjections of instalove, Grayson still revels in being somewhat of a womanizer and obsesses over physical attraction. Sure, Wren has her moments of instalove, but they are much subtler, where she talks about feeling a magnetic pull to Grayson. That, to some extent, I can believe. But the bullshit Grayson’s spouting? NO THANK YOU. TL;DR: I wish this whole book would be written from Wren’s perspective, because I’m sure I’d like it at least twice as much.

What I also dislike is that the author tried to make some sort of plot aside from the romance, hinging on Grayson’s background, where he was friends with the wrong people who encouraged him to run a business of selling term papers and participate in other hijinks. But this book was begging to be all about the romance, and thus this side plot was just half-assed. At the end, its resolution was met with a shrug. I couldn’t bring myself to care for it for a second. It was just there to get in the way of the smooching – which, again, I quite enjoyed – and probably kept this book from being as amazing as it could have been. 100% fluff is not totally a bad thing. It’s quite what I expected from this book, to be honest. But trying to pull off being more than fluff, when you’re really not? That just ends badly.

Summing Up:

It wasn’t a completely terrible read, but The Promise of Amazing definitely didn’t live up to its title. (I can’t stop using this pun. Sorry not sorry. It’s just too easy. To be honest, picking a title like that is just dangerous, because it begs to be made fun of.) While I liked the kissy scenes, I definitely wanted to stab Grayson. It was an odd reading experience, where I tried to ignore the instalove declarations that annoyed me, kind of like me reading with one eye shut, trying to block out the bad and concentrate only on the good. So while I still managed to enjoy it to some extent, it’s not an experience I’d care to repeat, nor one that I’d actively recommend to other people.

GIF it to me straight!


Recommended To:

People who can handle wish fulfillment bullshit and sappy romance.

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23 responses to “ARC Book Review: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

  1. I wasn’t particularly keen on reading this one, and seeing how your review agree with a few others that have said this book is nothing to write home about it, I will be skipping it. I don’t read much contemporaries, but when I do I go for those that other people have loved to bits.

  2. Meg

    Waaahhhhhh. The cover is so pretty and I wanted this to be gooooooood. *cries* I can’t decide which I love more, your use of Malfoy or title puns, because you’re so right, you pretty much have to zing a title like that if the book flops. I’m sorry it was a broken promise.

    • I really REALLY wish I would have liked this enough to add that lovely cover to my shelves… *cries with you* The Malfoy gifs were a must. I don’t even know how I come up with these things. Yeah, I hope at the least that authors will learn from this book not to ever take a title like this unless they can 100% back it up. There wasn’t even a clear tie of the title to the plot. So it was just unnecessary. Wah wah.

  3. I had one of the best Twitter conversations over this book. I keep hearing some pretty blah things about this one, and I see that blogsphere poo-poo over this one.

  4. Violette

    I’ve got this on my TBR pile because, c’mon! From that cover to the sypnosis, it practically screams that it’s a light, fluffy, adorable read! But after reading many kind-of negative reviews, I’m not exactly sure about that anymore. I really want to like it and not go in only to find out that it’s pretty disappointing.

  5. Hmmmm, neh. This book is definitely not something for me. I need to like the characters and the romance. It’s funny to see that the insta-love comes from the boy and that makes it even more unrealistic, because I don’t think teenage guys think like that. Ever. But it’s good that they had chemistry 🙂

  6. Hi! This blog is utterly amazing! You have beautiful designs and (much appreciated) lengthy reviews!

    Anyway, I will absolutely be skipping this book. I’m no fan of authors who don’t take the time to understand a real teenage boy’s mind. Honestly, what’s the point of writing with two POV’s if one of them is going to be skewed by a feminine perspective?!?

    Thanks for having such a cool blog!

    ~Remy @ Books In Her Head

  7. I agree with EVERYTHING you said (though I still consider this instalove!)

    I have a feeling if I had gone into the book blind – poor reviews + the high expectations from that title did NOTHING to help my judgment – I would have enjoyed it a tiny bit more, but I didn’t and therefore don’t. The Promise of Amazing would make a great sick read. It’s certainly fluffy enough and the lack of a proper plot can be excused when you’re high on medicine 🙂

    A+ on this one, Draco.

  8. ahaha I totally agree with you! The Promise of Amazing wasn’t amazing and as cute as the cover. For me, the beginning was cute but when Grayson started stalking her, I was like UH OH… Overall, yes, it was not a terrible read, but it could have been better. More action and plot twist perhaps?

  9. Basically, we share the same sentiments about this book. It promised to be amazing, but that totally didn’t work out for it in the end. I do like that you were able to specifically pinpoint how it could possibly have been better. Focusing on the romance and reining Grayson’s instalove feels in would have done wonders for this story.

  10. I’m so glad I didn’t request this one. I was tempted because the cover, honestly. However, it is the promise of meh.

    I don’t know why the gifs are Draco-themed, but it makes my heart happy.

    Oooh, kissing scenes, but that’s not enough if the rest is not so good. Also, Grayson’s thoughts are SO cheesy. I know some people like that, but it does not set my heart to ship. It sets it to barf.

    Gah. I hate when fluff books try to not be fluff books and half-ass an actual plot. That’s how I felt about Statistical Probability. That whole thing with her dad was sort of thrown by the wayside.

    Oooh, *stares at the rare Draco gif where he’s not smirking and you can see how hot he is*

    • Ugh, I know. I had already heard the negative reviews before I downloaded it, but I just HAD to know for myself, because of that freakingggggggggg cover. asdfjkl;

      Draco is awesomesauce, okay? I don’t remember why I did that. I just found the THIS IS BULLSHIT gif and then thought, okay, why not stick to a theme? ^^;

      YES YES. Grayson’s wish fulfillment bullshit will never appeal to me. I hate that so much in books. Like, This is What Happy Looks Like did that too. And just no. Ughhhhh.

      Aww, I had that with Statistical Probability a bit as well. Though I still did like that one over all, and the fact that it was about divorced parents did touch my heart a bit. I dunno, I read that before I really got into fluffy contemporaries – I’m thinking I may like it more now? Hmm.

      Tom Felton is the sex. *joins in staring*

      • This is how the best themed gifs are born, tbh.

        I can deal with a little bit of wish fulfillment, but my patience for it wears ever thinner as I age. One of my personal pet peeves is the heroine who’s been pining for someone out of their reach one way or another, but then magically gets them and everything is perfect. Example: P&P fan fiction where a woman who is obsessed with fictional Darcy gets a guy just like Darcy. THIS IS NOT REAL LIFE. Or Cress, but I can’t remember if you read that already, so that’s all I’ll say.

        Tom Felton is incredibly handsome. When that pic went around about Neville being hottest, I was all um no.

        • …Cress and Thorne are perfect and HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW I READ THIS x_x They are OTP. Precisely because yeah, it was wish fulfillment, but she got disillusioned, because he totally wasn’t what she thought or made him out to be. And she’s coming to terms with that and liking who he actually is. I CANNOT WITH THESE FEELINGS RIGHT NOW.

          Neville definitely looks better nowadays, but Tom Felton will always win.

          • NO NO NO NO, DEBBY. She got disillusioned for like FIVE SECONDS and then he stops acting all Thorney and becomes someone else to be the guy she thought he was and no. ALL THE NO. I didn’t feel like she came to terms; I felt like he changed to fit her, which is the opposite of Nyx/Ignifex shippiness.

            (I thought you’d read Cress, but if I was wrong and said things, I knew you would be a very angry orange.)

            Neville does not work for me. I kinda see it, but he does not appeal to me.

          • BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. *plugs fingers in ears* He may have changed to fit her, but I like how that was done, because she inspired him that he could be better – which he didn’t believe before that. Her innocence and naivete was endearing to him. And I will love that forever.

            (fair enough, I shall let that slide)

      • The change was just SO sudden and SO drastic that I could not even. They needed a slower romance arc. SLOW BURN.

        Also, Tohru is naive and innocent and you hate her. I call shenanigans.

        I mean, not really because it’s emotions and you can’t control that stuff, but still. :-p

        • THE BOOK WAS ALREADY 560 PAGES AND HAD TWO OTHER MAIN CHARACTERS AND I DON’T KNOW HOW MANY POVs CHRISTINA. o_o If they went any slower it WOULDN’T HAVE HAPPENED. I mean, a bit slower may have been nice but also they were stranded in the freaking desert and saving each others’ lives and stuff and that CHANGES PEOPLE.

          Nope. Nopity nope. Tohru is nooooooot the same as Cress. Cress is much cuter. *pouts* I’ll freely admit that that kind of character doesn’t work for me like 80% of the time, but Cress is an exceptionnnn because she is the adorbs and so endearing and I CAN JUST IMAGINE A LIFE IN ISOLATION LIKE THAT OKAY AND I LUV HER. *hugs Cress, strokes hair*

        • I would have liked Cress more if her life in seclusion had affected her more. She spent all her life talking to a younger version of herself, but is apparently better socialized than you or me (no offense) and a fantastically insightful judge of character. JUST NO. Her naivete made sense, but her social skills did not.

          • “is apparently better socialized than you or me”

            *falls on floor*
            *dies of laughter*

            Umm. I guess that didn’t bother me at all, really. I wrote it off as (a) instinct, and (b) years of studying humans from her satellite. As an outside observer, she may have more knowledge about the human condition than anyone else. *shrug* And I felt like she was really hesitant of how to act, and she did doubt herself a lot. She just tried to keep the effects of her seclusion buried as deep down as possible.