Review: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

Rating: 4 stars
Pub Date: December 31, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: DRC, Edelweiss
Status: standalone

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.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

At first, The Promise of Amazing appears to be a case of good girl meets bad boy, but beneath the cutesy cover and it-could-be-fate summary, this book has a lot more going for it. For most people, there is a point in our lives when we realize that something has got to give. There must be a big change, or things are just not going to work out, and the weird thing is that even though most people hit this point, you will ALWAYS have opposition to your change, even if it's a good one. For Wren and Grayson, they both hit that milestone when she saves him from choking on a miniature meat tube encased in a doughy wrap (inside joke. Gotta read the book, folks!). The rest, as the saying goes, is history. Adorable, sexy, convoluted, dangerous, crazypants history.

By far, one of the aspects of Promise of Amazing is Wren and Grayson's connection. You can turn your nose at it and call it instalove if you wish, but I loved the way these kids couldn't stay away from one another. It wasn't creepy or stalker-esque (but their conversation about that is sooo precious). It was natural, an effect of her heroism combined with really great chemistry. Wren doesn't force Grayson to participate in ridiculous schemes, and Gray draws Wren out of her shell. By the way, it's so weird the way everyone describes Wren as the quiet girl, but honestly, I never saw it because 1. she's one of the narrators, and 2. girlfriend has some serious sass when she puts it out there. Nobody puts Baby Wren in the corner! Anyway, I really appreciate the genuine nature of their relationship, which was apparent even as Grayson was lying his butt off. Or withholding. Whatever. Tomayto, tomahto.

I also really enjoy the realness of the characters. Grayson, Luke, and Andy are, at times, coarse and crude. Teenagers swear so I'm okay with the language in this book, but I also really appreciate that Robin didn't go over the top with it. It's not like some books of movies when some writers surely must say, "Oops. Dropped an F-bomb. Broke that barrier. Guess I'll drop ALL the F-bombs" and everything devolves into "that effing effer is effed!" No. The language is appropriate for a book about high schooler who do naughty things. I actually found the boys' banter and insults witty, clever, and creative. I definitely laughed out loud several times. Meanwhile, the girls were not prissy and pure. When Wren (wow, that's a terrible combo of words!) gets angry, she's not afraid to let people know it. She's not a delicate little flower who watches her language. When she's pissed, she's pissed, and she sure lets loose. It's a nice touch!

I do have some complaints about Promise of Amazing. For a book primarily about Grayson and Wren, there are a LOT of supporting characters, and honestly, I would have liked to have seen some of them receive more page time. I felt like certain scenes were cut off too abruptly, and that didn't help. Not sure if that was an intentional writing decision on Robin's part, or if those scene endings were part of the editing process. I would have liked those scenes to transition a bit better. I also wanted a lot more of Wren and Grayson's actual romance. There's all this buildup to getting together and then their fight to stay together, but there was very little of them actually together. I get it; there's also very little conflict in the "together" part of a fictional romance, but c'mon. Throw the readers a bone. Or some more kissing (I realize that is also a very poor combination of sentences, but I'm smiling and giggling so it's staying. I occasionally have the mind & sense of humor as a fifteen year old boy). Finally, I was pretty frustrated with the whole trainwreck of a climax. That confrontation was nothing more than a clusterduck. I wanted to slap Wren and Grayson upside their heads. By the end of it, I was yelling, "WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?!" at my tablet. I mean, there are poor choices like wear those shoes with that dress or forgetting an umbrella, and then there are poor choices like creating a Bling Ring or staging a confrontation with your frenemy at your parents' business. *facepalm*

All in all, I really enjoyed The Promise of Amazing. It was a quick read, but it was also clever and engaging. I could relate to the characters and sympathize with their problems, even as I wanted to smack them around a little bit for making it worse. But that's life of a reader. The characters always make it worse, and there's not a dang thing we can do to stop them. I find Robin's writing style very appealing, and I really like this as an example of good dual pov. If Robin continues to write novels like The Promise of Amazing, I will continue to read and enjoy them, and I believe many readers will feel the same.

Book Links:

About the Author:
Robin Constantine is a born and bred Jersey girl who moved down South so she could wear flip-flops year round. She spends her days dreaming up stories where love conquers all, well, eventually but not without a lot of peril, angst and the occasional kissing scene.

Author Links:


  1. As with most contemporaries, I find they can be hit or miss with most readers. But I do love reading them all. I just can't help it. This cover is so adorable!

    1. Sadly, that seems to be the case with this book as well. I've seen a lot of not-great reviews, but I enjoyed it so that's all I care about.

  2. I think that the characters would be pretty boring if they didn't make stupid mistakes but it is always hard to see the train wreck coming for them! Maybe some of the secondary characters will get their own books in the future.

    1. Agreed! Mistakes make for interesting books, and at least I get to feel better about myself for spotting train wrecks. Too bad I don't always have that power in my own life, dangit. I doubt this is the kind of book that will spawn spin-offs, but it's a nice thought.

  3. I love contemporaries! This looks good, I'll check it out!

    1. I've been on a big contemporary kick lately too.

  4. I'm reading this one too. So far I'm liking it. I am really digging Wren right now. Hopefully I continue to like it.

  5. I read this earlier and I really really wanted to like it, but I just couldn't. It seemed like a soap opera to me and I didn't like Grayson. I wanted to but I just couldn't, I can't help but think of him a skeezy even though he's supposed to have a heart of gold. My biggest issue though is that I thought it was boring which was so disappointing because I felt like it could've had a lot of potential.

    1. I am so sad! I really enjoyed this book, and then all the reviews I've read EXCEPT ONE OTHER have been mostly negative. :( I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy it, Aly, but I *am* glad that I did!

    2. hahaha *cackle snorts* I'm glad that you did too.