operation prom date, comes into being when cooper callihan catches kate mooning over the unfortunately named mick pecker one afternoon.
kate wants mick to ask her to prom, so she can have that special night that every teen movie ever has promised. except to be honest, i feel like the movies promise a magical night, but what they actually deliver is something unexpected, and had kate been paying better attention she'd have figured things out much earlier. but then we'd have no book and that would be a shame because both cooper and kate are delightful characters to spend an afternoon with.
kate is quirky and funny and insecure in that way that quirky and funny girls are, she was ditched by her closest friend early on in her high school career because that "friend" wanted to be one of the popular girls. but kate has too much a sense of self to be one of the mean girls. so she stuck with her books and her television shows and has a rory-and-lorelai-like relationship with her mother, and isn't one of the cool kids.
cooper isn't a cool kid either, but his family has money and he's neighbors with the cool kids and no one hates his guts, so he's got an in with the crowd if he wants it. and he's willing to use his in to help kate out, as long as she helps him out with his obsession. he loves rowing. he's obsessed with it. being out on the river calms him down, lets him avoid all the pressures he faces at home. rowing and stargazing are the two things that matter most to cooper, until he meets kate and she ropes him into operation prom date. except that he also knows that kate is too good for the ridiculously named mick pecker. and even as he is giving her all the tools to succeed in getting the jerk to ask her to prom, he wants this whole plan to fail. except he also knows that having a plan, working on something with a single objective like this, it means more to kate than just getting her dream prom date. it also brings her closer to her father, who died while serving overseas. he was the first guy she'd complete secret missions with, and doing this with cooper lets her remember him in a way that doesn't hurt.
the more time kate and cooper spend together, the more the show their real selves. and they couldn't fit together better if they tried. and of course their feelings get in the way. because suddenly they lose the ability to communicate like rational people, because of course they are overwrought teenagers, but also this all works because cooper and kate feel like real people. they aren't being stubborn or behaving out of character, they are confused and trying to do right by each other and messing it all up. and then when cooper figures out the perfect way to make things up to kate, it's so romantic, and in the end kate gets her perfect dream of a prom date, even though it's not the one she expected. but she's watched enough movies to know that maybe she should have.
**operation prom date will publish on march 13, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (entangled:crush) in exchange for my honest review.