ARC Review by Jude & Annie: See the Light by Kate McMurray

0119_9781488036224Synopsis

Up-and-coming Broadway actor Jeremy was given two days to get up and get out. Dumped by his long-term boyfriend and suddenly homeless, he needs a sofa and a sympathetic ear, stat.

Enter Max, aspiring makeup artist and Jeremy’s BFF and former roommate. 

Max has been in love with his best friend forever. Now that Jeremy is back in his home, his old feelings are back, too. He’s happy to help his friend, but this time…it’s complicated.

When Jeremy gets his big break in a new show, the message of the play hits home. “Live life to the fullest” means recognizing how he really feels about Max, and that’s not complicated at all. Jeremy’s in love, and wants to move full steam ahead. 

But Max has waited too long for Jeremy to look at him this way, and he doesn’t want to risk his heart. If this is just a rebound fling, or if Jeremy is only interested in Max because he’s convenient, it will not only shatter him—it will ruin the best friendship he’s ever known.

Goodreads | Carina Press | Amazon
Release Date: January 28th

Rating Jude: 2.5 stars
Rating Annie: 4 stars

*Review copies provided by Carina Press

reviewedbyjude

I hate rating books this low, but unfortunately I just couldn’t rate this one higher. This book didn’t work for me on a variety of levels. Almost from the beginning both the characters and story felt flat.

Despite the emotional turmoil we find Jeremy in from the outset (he’s just been dumped by his boyfriend of 3 years, and then kicked out of his apartment), I felt as though I was being told and not shown that he was heartbroken. Even in the small moments when we “saw” Jeremy process his feelings, they lacked depth. I never really believed that he was heartbroken or angry (as he describes).

In large part, I believe that this is because I never felt honest connection or chemistry between him and Max. We are told over and over that they are best friends, that Max is Jeremy’s *person*, but we don’t get a lot of *them* that isn’t related to Jeremy being obtuse and Max pining. Why are they friends? Do they have fun or just shared history?

The miscommunications between Max and Jeremy were at times painful. Not just because they miscommunicated, but because their communication was so uneven. At times, I felt like there was a complete disconnect in the storytelling. One moment Jeremy would be reflecting on Max hinting that he had feelings and the next, when confronted with them, he would act as though he had no idea.  The tension between them, the will-we or won’t-we didn’t feel believable to me. And while I initially understood Max’s reticence to act on his feelings–fear of putting himself out there, fear of damaging a friendship, even a self-defeating fear that getting the thing you most want will make losing it more painful–at a certain point I just couldn’t anymore. There was so much potential in the growing pains and set backs (particularly what happens in Boston, but I won’t spoil) but just as I felt like maybe I was going to get some meaty emotional work, everything fell flat again. Jeremy was so hurt, but then when he saw Max next *none* of that came through?

I won’t lie, I was incredibly disappointed in Max toward the end. See the Light is life changing for Jeremy, the role of a lifetime. It’s his first turn in a starring role on Broadway and I felt very little sincere support from Max. Buying tickets for the first show secretly? Why….would you want to keep that a secret? Like, why would you not be there, thrilled, swept up, invested, encouraging, when it’s your LIFE LONG BEST FRIEND ACHIEVING THEIR DREAM?

Really, the highlight of the novel was Max watching See the Light for the first time. I finally felt Max’s fears, the role of his depression and insecurity and anxiety. I found this scene and the one after particularly moving because we are finally set into the scene with characters having emotional reactions that feel organic and layered and deep. Unfortunately, it was a little too late to rescue the book for me.

Highlights: this is a low stakes, low-angst read. If you want to spend an afternoon or two escaping, this book works. McMurray does a good job with the physical intimacy. Also, Anthony was an A+ side character. I enjoyed all of the side story/plot about the drag scene in New York.

Trigger warning: this is never depicted but See the Light (the musical itself) contains a school shooting story line.

reviewedbyannie

This is one of the rare instances where Jude and I disagree on a book, I think.

What I loved about See the Light – other than it has a forced close proximity/best friends to lovers storyline – was the setting in the theater world. Kate McMurray described this with so much detail and I enjoyed learning about the Broadway world as much as I loved getting to know Jeremy and Max. One of my favorite things about it was that we got the know the backstage and stage make-up world with Max and the on-stage bit with Jeremy.

Jeremy and Max grew up together and have been best friends ever since. Unbeknownst to Jeremy Max has had a crush on Jeremy for ages but never had the courage to tell him. When Jeremy’s boyfriends breaks up with him and throws him out of their shared apartment Jeremy is desperately in need of a new place to live. Luckily Max offers Jeremy to move in with him. Cue feelings flaring up again! Being this close together brings back Max’s feeling full force but he still can’t bring himself to tell Jeremy how he feels.

On more than one occasion I wanted to shake Max because it is so, so obvious that Jeremy has real feelings for Max and it’s not just a rebound thing. But because Max is too afraid of losing the friendship between them – which is somewhat understandable – he keeps Jeremy at arms length and *exasperated sigh* I just wanted to shake some sense into him!

That back and forth and total lack of communication between Jeremy and Max started to bother me at some point in the story. Overall I *love* when characters can make me tear my hair out (figuratively speaking of course) because they’re just. so. stubborn. and won’t talk. And up until a certain point I was really enjoying that aspect of See the Light but right before they got their heads out of their asses I felt like it was getting a bit too much and that it slowed the whole story down. Otherwise though I really, really enjoyed the book. Especially when they finally both came to their senses. Their HEA was cute and sweet; definitely what they deserved after all the back and forth!

A good friends to lovers romance is my kryptonite and coupled with forced proximity that shit becomes irresistible for me. See the Light definitely hit a lot of my buttons just right so that all in all this was a solid 4 star read for me.

AtA_fttbr

Kate McMurray writes smart romantic fiction. She likes creating stories that are brainy, funny, and of course sexy, with regular guy characters and urban sensibilities. She advocates for romance stories by and for everyone. When she’s not writing, she edits textbooks, watches baseball, plays violin, crafts things out of yarn, and wears a lot of cute dresses. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with two cats and too many books.

She is active in Romance Writers of America, having served as president of Rainbow Romance Writers, the LGBT romance chapter, and she is currently president of RWA NYC, the New York City chapter.

Website |Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

Genre: Contemporary Orientation: Gay Pairing: M/M Publisher: Carina Press Review Tag: Art / Artist Tag: Friends to Lovers

Jude Sierra View All →

Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother who began her writing career at the age of eight when she immortalized her summer vacation with ten entries in a row that read “pool+tv”. Jude began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007.

Jude is currently working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for Queer Books Unbound. Her novels include Hush, What it Takes, and Idlewild, a contemporary queer romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. Her most recent novel A Tiny Piece of Something Greater was released in May of 2018. Shadows you Left, a co-written novel with Taylor Brooke will arrive spring of 2019 from Entangled Press.

Twitter: @JudeSierra
Website: judesierra.com
Instagram: /judemsierra/
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/de5FQT

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