Once upon a time, I saw AWKWARD by Marni Bates and knew that it sounded so up my alley. For some reason, though, I skipped it and moved on with my life, but after reading DECKED WITH HOLLY I regret that hugely. DECKED WITH HOLLY falls into the same class of writers such as Stephanie Perkins and Meg Cabot – deliciously delightful young adult comedy romance, with fluffy situations, delightful canoodling, and love/hate relationships. It’s short, fast paced, and delicious from page one. I thought awhile about all the things that made DECKED WITH HOLLY such an enjoyable experience despite it’s very preposterous premise – a heartthrob from a One Direction-type band takes a Mexican cruise in order to potentially commit his group to playing concerts on the ship, and also as a retreat to try his hand at songwriting. By chance, an awkward, ignored teenage girl is on the same ship for her grandfather’s birthday/Christmas, and wanders into his stateroom to throw up. Why would a rich, fabulous band member take a cruise? I’m just saying because that sounds rather silly. And nobody recognized him at first. Hrm.Besides that one part, I really did enjoy this novel from beginning to end. It opens with a drunk mall Santa getting his butt handed to him by our heroine Holly (and the resulting pictures becoming blackmail material). It ends with something that made my heart go all aflutter. I am admittedly a big fan of smushy gooey fluffy romances. I devour them like crazy – Kinsella, Green, Fielding, Weiner. But it’s rare that I feel that same attraction to the young adult variety of contemporary gooey romance. I don’t know what it is, but I’ll be honest for a second – I did not date until I got to college, and now that I’m 25, I’ve still never been in a serious, long-term relationship. I didn’t get high school romance, even though my brother met his future fiancée while in high school. I met future McDonald’s cashiers and even one future murderer (I kid you not). The one boy I liked and tried to ask out laughed at me and walked away. He is getting his Ph.D. now in robotics and is dating a girl getting her nursing degree. He was really awkward so I’ll just assume he didn’t know how to deal with girls back then.It’s quite possible that YA romance does not resonate with me because I never experienced high school love. My first real boyfriend wasn’t until the end of my freshman year of college. I changed schools and never saw him again. My first real kiss wasn’t until my last week of college, and then the guy compared me to all four of his ex-girlfriends (she was a slut, she was a drunk, she was an idiot) and I deleted him from my phone. Which was sad because he was very cute and from Canada. I’ve dated hardcore Republicans (I am a borderline Socialist), hardcore Christians (I am agnostic), a hardcore idiot (I graduated Magna Cum Laude and he dropped out after three semesters). My love life is nonexistent. Oh, wait. I’ve gotten REALLY off topic here. But the point is… I don’t often connect with YA romances because I never had that in my life during my teenage years. With DECKED WITH HOLLY, I let go of my preconceptions about the unrealistic loves of teens across the unrealistic world. For the most part. Marni Bates’ sophomore offer is well written, well plotted, and 250 pages of fun on a bun – even if some of the characters at times felt forced and unrealistic. Unrealistic might be my favorite word in this review, but let me tell you – a lot of that is forgiven with the cute, swoon-worthy romance in this one.VERDICT: If you are in the market for cute, heartwarming, and utterly fluffily good, then add DECKED WITH HOLLY to your to read list today.