I was two, 2.5 Stars for this and then the more I dwell on it, the ANGRIER I get. This book should come with some major warning labels. Spoilers aheadI was two, 2.5 Stars for this and then the more I dwell on it, the ANGRIER I get. This book should come with some major warning labels. Spoilers ahead, starting with section Three
First, the good: The first half of the book or so was really good. I liked how Connor was depicted and I liked his transition to Bluewater Bay. I liked his insecurity over if he was actually talented as an actor or just fit a certain type, and I liked how acting was seen through his eyes.
Second, the bad: Noah is a cipher in this book. This book is NOT a romance between Noah and Connor, it's really about Connor's relationship with Vinnie. You never get to know Noah and what you do know doesn't really make sense. (Seriously, Master's in Philosophy that's thrown out there, but really it's just a data point so that the readers know that he's educated and smart, those no real explanation about why he bothered to get a MASTER's ... and finish it at a young age for finishing it - but then it has no relevance. It could have been used to reveal actual things about him (he loved philosophy but hated academia, or whatever...anything, but no, it's just a boring data point.
Anyway, he has a *master's* but he's fine being a 'driver' and he has zero ideas what he wants to do with himself, but it's not even about trying to find himself he 'just doesn't want to leave Bluewater Bay' - but at the same time, he's NOT portrayed as somebody who just loves to live life. He's too rigid. Really, it's because the author is being lazy and his entire existence is so that he can take care of Connor. That's why he was written and that's the only dimension his personality has.
Plus, this is one of those dumb books where the characters don't have to communicate because somehow Noah 'knows' things without Connor telling him and often without Connor even knowing. (Except of course, if Connor actually loves him, he doesn't know that because, ugh, stupid contrived angst.)
Anyway, Noah is never explained or really developed as an actual person with personality. Also, Amy Lane doesn't actually know what the definition of sarcasm is, because she keeps using about things that *aren't sarcastic statements* - they would be sentences you'd say wryly or dryly maybe, but NOT sarcastically. Which probably doesn't help matters in giving Noah no depth, since he's supposed to be this sarcastic character who ... never actually says anything sarcastic? Whatever.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, the UGLY:
HOLY FUCK, WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST READ?! (Possible triggers ahead)
First of all, what the hell, BDSM AND LOVE ARE NOT A CURE FOR MENTAL ILLNESS. That was *disgusting and gross* Connor is *literally* having psychotic breaks with reality where he can't tell what's real and what's not real, he's having imaginary conversations, he ALMOST KILLS HIMSELF because he can't distinguish reality from what's going on in his head. And it's TREATED by Noah with BDSM. And - almost brownie points - Noah actually does suggest Connor go to a therapist during the early bits. And Connor is like, oh no, I only need Youuuuuuuuu and then I will be ok. Which if that had actually played out as things spiraling down and then him getting therapy? That would have been rough but ok. INSTEAD, AFTER Almost killing himself, he goes to the hospital (but not really for himself, obviously) and has a conversation with the pyschologist who is like 'oh, you're in love now? you'll be fine, you won't want to kill yourself anymore' and releases him.
WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK? And of course - THAT IS WHAT HAPPENS.
Lastly, the weird: Also, there is some weird racism in this book, which is ironic because it's pretty obvious the author was trying really hard to write a book about PoC, although it's actually essentially whitewashed. Except for the weirdly racist bits, you wouldn't KNOW it was supposed to be about PoC, except for things like making a joke about tabloids calling Noah a 'Dark Chocolate Monkey of Love' (wtf?) and touching a black woman's hair and being shocked at how silky it is and a this really off scene where the guy who's half mexican makes a point of noticing about how the grocery delivery ... didn't have tortillas and salsa and ... just weird. And gross.
ETA: Ok, things I have discovered since originally writing this review is that it's less cluelessness (which is what I thought when I termed it weird that she didn't get how racist it was) and more hubris, Amy Lane is well aware of the fact that she writes racist things but thinks it does not apply to her for 'reasons'/she is above criticism for it because of who knows what, that she's a special empathetic snowflake who is her characters? I don't know and I don't care.