Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Stella Starling - Be True

Outspoken, outgoing, and outrageously out, Trevor Rogers isn't one to say no when opportunity comes knocking. And jetting off to New York City to play the part of reclusive billionaire Logan Carter's boyfriend for a Valentine's Day publicity campaign? That's not just a yes, but oh hell yes. When Logan Carter's business partner, the founder of the popular dating app bLoved, starts receiving death threats and has to stay out of the public eye, Logan is thrust into the limelight. The only problem? Logan doesn't do public. He also learned the hard way never to mix business with pleasure... no matter how tempting someone like Trevor might make it. Trevor doesn't want to be tied down, and Logan isn't interested in opening up… but if falling in love is all just an act, why does saying “I love you” start to feel so real?

Comment: I added this book to my TBR in late 2018. I think what motivated me was the fact the protagonists would be opposites attract and rich/poor. I'm a fan of this because it does seem the balance has to be off between such a couple but I'm always eager to see an author convince me otherwise. Sadly, this book didn't work for me...

In this story, Logan, a millionaire guy who got his money from technology businesses (and also a non believer in love after being cheated on), has to be part of one of his company's marketing for Valentine's Day, since it promises to match "soul mates". The irony isn't lost on him but the other partner of the company has to be off radar for a while because he got death threats. So, serious Logan has to man up but he doesn't have a boyfriend so he asks the guy who makes him smile when he goes out to buy his suits at Ashby's, a department store. Trevor is outspoken, vibrant, unafraid to put himself out there and he likes Logan's looks. He feels his being an extrovert will help others see Logan differently and, thus, more people would believe in the matchmaking app they use. But falling in love for real was not in either of their plans...

These stories which combine different class, opposites attract and even a relationship of convenience are pure catnip for me and should result in very good stories, easily appreciated by me. However, the execution and choices of authors can make quite a difference and in this case I was not convinced. 

I finished the novel but I have to say I didn't enjoy the author's style. I got the impression the writing is easy, yes, but very set on clichés and superficial tones where we have characters who don't really evolve. Things felt sugary and fluff and (to me) not in the positive way. I got the feeling things were rather one dimensional and I didn't feel connected to the characters nor the challenges they faced. I think this is a very forgettable story. It didn't work for me but you know how it is, what fails for some can be gold for others...

The plot itself is a bit silly but not unbelievable in this day and age of marketing and publicity trying to sell people something. What I think was silly was how Logan, such an apparently clever and ruthless business guy has to be the one to find an "actor" to play the part of his boyfriend. I see why this was done but Logan felt like a very unlikely character and his persona was all based on how his ex cheating made him uncaring. How.... simplistic. Where were his other layers? Nothing about his personality made me think "love interest" or "protagonist". Logan could be anyone, there's nothing about his personality that made me root for him.

Trevor, the other half of the couple, is the extrovert who makes Logan smile. I can see how in a more romantic fluff novel such as this, like a sort of Cinderella experiment, he would be Logan's pick. Trevor isn't too bad and I felt he was more approachable, after all the author made him so, which means I could like his personality more. According to the urban slang of nowadays, I guess I could say he could be described as a "twink", which means fashionable, joyful with boyish qualities. I admit I don't tend to like how "twinks" tend to be characterized in novels, they appear - sometimes - as childish, in the sense they depend on their partner and their behavior feels less adult. 

I might be too prejudiced on how some authors have  done so, but it was how I imagined Trevor from the first descriptions. There's nothing wrong with this of course and, had the author done a job to convince me, I'm certain I'd have appreciated Trevor even more, but I have to confess I just couldn't go past the personality and power imbalance - and not just because of their different bank accounts. 

Most of the book was rather boring to me. I don't think there was real chemistry between the main couple, the hardships they mention don't seem to be in par with the way they act and react to life. Everything was without depth, even the conflicts felt forced so that thy could go from point A to point B. I didn't have the feeling they were better people by being in love or that they could become a better version of themselves because they were together or sharing that experience.

I just don't think this author's style is for me. It's too fluffy, too set on dramas which can be easily solved, there's no interesting dynamics nor situations to make the characters reveal inner qualities or hidden layers. I think it's better if I don't continue trying her books.

Grade: 3/10

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