Ben Easton is not your average romantic hero. He’s a tattooed, badass, wannabe rock star, working in a perfectly horrible dive bar in Camden Town. His life is good, and he’s totally unprepared for how one man will turn it upside down.
Stan isn’t your average heroine. As a gender-fluid man, he proudly wears his blond hair long, his heels sky-high, and his makeup perfectly executed. A fashion industry prodigy, Stan is in London after stints working in Italy and New York City, and he quickly falls for Ben’s devil-may-care attitude and the warm, soft heart Ben hides behind it.
Beneath the perfect, elegant exterior, Stan has plenty of scars from teenage battles with anorexia. And it only takes the slightest slip for his demons to rush back in while Ben is away touring with his band. With the band on the brink of a breakthrough, Ben is forced to find a way to balance the opportunity of a lifetime with caring for his beautiful boyfriend.
It's a double Aussie tag team review! Both rated that same...#mindmeld? ;)
Fantasy Living - 4 Hearts
Buddy Read with my fellow Aussie reviewer Chelsea. Thank you Chelsea for reading my email musings as we read through this book.
This story between Stan and Ben was the sweetest love story. Told in two parts, part one focuses on Stan moving to London and meeting Ben, them getting together and falling in love. While this relationship is developing, Ben’s band with his friends is starting to get noticed, and Stan has some secrets he needs to reveal to go to that next level of commitment.
My first thought was this was fluffy and light, and way too easy. The relationship between Stan and Ben was seamless. Stan being genderfluid was expecting some issues with Ben’s level of acceptance, but Ben didn’t seem to bat an eye, no matter how feminine, or masculine Stan dressed or behaved. Ben loved it all, and Stan thrived with being himself.
I felt a little disconnected with their first love scene. I enjoyed the chemistry up to that point, and thought they could have waited longer for their first time together. Ben appeared to want to wait, whereas Stan wasn’t fussed either way. When they did get to that point, I didn’t really feel their connection during the act. It put me off a little bit, but I understand it’s purpose (pay close attention readers). I was beginning to write this off as fluffy goodness, but not really my usual preference of reading, until I got to Part 2.
This is where the story turned from an easy romance, to something more. It is also where people may be most triggered. This is where Stan’s past becomes his present, and there is a real battle for survival. I loved the turn in the plot, making it much more weighty and complex. I found myself thoroughly engrossed in the content of Part 2, and couldn’t put it down. The challenges this couple came up against were difficult, but something relatable and real. I appreciated that there wasn’t a huge amount of angst to carry this story, even with their issues. It was real and raw. It flowed well with what was presented as part of life.
Tone was a really beautiful surprise. He started off being the vulgar friend, who said stuff just to make a spectacle of himself, but he really pulled through as a reliable friend and ally when this couple needed him the most. His story was intriguing and I wanted more from him. He is a special man, and deserves great things.
The writing style was lovely, and a lot of attention was given to ensuring the plot was tight. The medical content while Stan is dealing with his Anorexia may be triggering to some people, but I’m glad it is in there. It is important not to dismiss mental health issues, or pretend that these issues aren’t lifelong and can be triggered back into the present.
While there were a few question marks for me regarding the reality of immigration, visas, and work sponsorship in the UK, the feelings evoked from the narrative distracted me enough not to pay much attention to it. There was also a little bit of a boys club feel to the story, and some problematic dialogue exchanges, but again, not enough for me to be completely distracted or put off my reading, just that back of mind awareness of it.
I would recommend this to anyone looking for a low angst romance with relatable characters.
Chelsea - 4 Hearts
“I think I’m falling in love, Stan.”
“I think I am too.”
I was so looking forward to reading this, I adore gender-fluid characters. I find their strength is always so inspiring and….. quite simply... I love men in dresses!
What really made this book was the characters. Both Ben and Stan are such unique and complicated people but I’ll start with Stan.
Stan is only 22 but has lived the life of a 40 year old. He was born in Russia, where being homosexual was ‘not spoken of’, let alone being gender-fluid or transgender. He had a lot of growing up and self discovery to do very fast. He’s also stunningly beautiful and was drawn to the fashion industry.
Stan. Jesus, that man could start wars. Like a modern-day Helen of Troy. It seemed like everything had come together when his DNA was being formed— the angels were singing and created a perfect balance of cheekbones, angled jaw, sparkling grey eyes, and long, long blond hair. Like a fucking mermaid.
Being in the fashion industry doesn’t help when he’s already suffered from anorexia at the young age of 13, which unfortunately is relatively common for gay adolescents. He is confronted with his illness in part two of the book, but despite this the story isn’t heavy on the angst. Stan is an optimist and is always wanting to improve and better his life, and he does that with Ben.
Ben, oh Ben you are my new book boyfriend, although you may need to fight it out with Tone because he is freakin amazing!
“You’re a nice guy. And a mate. And a really hot girl, which is confusing, but I won’t make a pass at you ’cos Ben would knock my teeth out if I tried.”
Ben is such a normal guy, he swears, he's messy, he doesn’t have much ambition in his life and is happy just cruising along. But he’s completely unfazed by Stan and loves him wholeheartedly from the beginning.
“He sees the girl and likes her, and can touch the boy and like him too. He doesn’t try and make me ‘fit’ into any tick-box category. He just lets me be.”
This isn’t insta-love though. This relationship takes a good realistic pace for people who just click well together.
The first half of the book was super sweet and I enjoyed it… but it was just too slow for me. Not much happened, there was no conflict or anything amazingly interesting developing in their relationship. I didn't always feel the emotion coming from Stan and Ben. I felt like I was reading about it at times instead of experiencing it, if that makes sense. The second half was better, with much more emotion evident from both characters.
This story was super sweet. It deals with heavy themes in a very sensitive way without weighing the book down with angst and pain. This was essentially a love story between a normal average guy, and a guy who has worked hard to find his own ‘normal’.
A review copy was provided for an honest opinion
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