Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Book Review: 'Be Loved' by Stella Starling
There is something about encountering biographical data such as this that makes you love a book before you read it: ‘Stella Starling is the Pacific Northwest based storytelling team of two M/M contemporary romance authors who have far too many stories to tell on their own, so decided it would be fun to tell a few of them together. The authors bring their love for writing, romance, and sweet, steamy “happily ever afters” to every story, and hope that “their boys” will give readers a delicious escape into a world where love always wins.’ Yes, there are other such teams and each team has its own flavor. “Stella Starling” focuses on very fine romances – or as they describe – ‘BE LOVED is a gay romance novel that features a nice guy who carries a gun, jewelry filled with the kind of magic that can only come from the heart, fun facts about Uranus, and an emotionally battered man who finally gets what he’s always deserved: love.’
In a bit of a Prologue we meet our heroes in a classroom ten years before the story begins – ‘Shane smiled like the two of them were sharing a joke, even though they weren’t friends and had never really talked, and Brandon jerked his eyes back to the front of the room, his ears feeling hot again. It had been a few months since Shane had transferred to Budlong High School, and it wasn’t just his good looks and upbeat attitude that had made such a splash. Shane was gay. Super gay. Gay gay. And not just gay, but, as far as Brandon could tell, totally unfazed by being gay. Shane had moved from California where he claimed everyone was much more liberal, all dark hair and big smiles and unapologetic flamboyance, and even though Brandon had always considered Chicago a pretty easygoing place, when it came to guys like Shane, maybe it wasn’t easygoing enough.’ Past set in place and readying us for the real story.
The provided synopsis shares the hesitant journey to a HEA – ‘How do you fall out of love with your best friend?’ Police Officer Brandon Byrne has carried a torch for his best friend since the day they first met. He’s mastered the art of keeping his feelings to himself as Shane, a serial monogamist, falls out of one bad relationship and right into another, again… and again… and again. But now, after ten long years, it’s finally time to face reality. Shane’s getting married, and what Brandon once thought was his destiny is just never going to happen. On the cusp of saying yes to his boyfriend’s marriage proposal, Shane Allen is getting cold feet. He’s always wanted a happily-ever-after… so shouldn’t he be more excited at the thought that it’s finally about to happen? But when he takes a compatibility quiz on the popular gay dating app, bLoved, it does more than just help him answer that question, it opens his eyes to some scary truths. Maybe it’s not just cold feet. Maybe it’s time to get out. Brandon might finally get his chance at the one thing he’s always wanted, but only if he can protect Shane long enough to take it… because when Shane’s rejection exposes his ex’s true nature, it starts to look a lot like that of a psychopath.’
As with all the first two books in Stella Starling’s ‘At Last, The Beloved Series’ this book explores even more intimately the trials of forming relationships when one partner is out and the other is not – yet. They handle this story very well, indeed. Grady Harp, March 17
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