Reclusive author Bellamy Strong has lived vicariously through Makyla, her protagonist, for as long as she’s been writing. While Bellamy suffers from severe social anxiety and panic attacks, Makyla isn’t afraid to put herself out there. She’s strong. She’s cool. She’s got a super-sexy love interest. And apparently, though she has no recollection of it, Bellamy has agreed to dress as Makyla and tour the country with a male model that looks just like Max, Makyla’s love interest.
When Bellamy meets Caleb, the model hired to play Max, she can hardly speak. Even setting aside her social anxiety, she just has no idea what to do when she comes face-to-face with the man she dreamed up years ago. Caleb is Max. Then he opens his mouth. And Caleb is a jerk.
…Or is he? As Caleb and Bellamy drive across the country (accompanied by their assistants/best friends), they start to learn more about each other and form a tentative friendship. Soon, the two are inseparable. They’re best friends. But what happens when feelings inevitably get involved?
Alright, so I picked this one up from Netgalley because I was intrigued by the premise. I mean, an author that has to cosplay her protagonist with a male model playing the love interest? It was either going to be great or it was going to be horrible, but either way, I wanted to read it. Surprisingly, it was neither great nor horrible. It was just somewhere in the middle.
The plot was interesting and nothing I’ve ever read before, although I’m not quite sure I fully believed in the premise. Surely there would be an issue with a contract that was signed under the influence? Surely if Bellamy had really put her foot down, they couldn’t have required her to do the whole cosplay thing. If they could get a model to portray Max, I don’t see why they couldn’t get a model to portray Makyla. But regardless, I set that aside (or at least tried to) as I settled into the book.
Obviously, Bellamy and Caleb get off on the wrong foot. Caleb thinks that Bellamy is some sort of drooling fangirl and brushes her off. Bellamy is offended by Caleb’s brush off and her social anxiety seems to fade away as she puts him in his place time and time again. (Arguably much more often than he deserves, but I guess that was their dynamic.) But then, suddenly, the two are bantering like old friends. Then they decide that they’re best friends. Then they’re making out and having sex and it all just seems to happen so fast. Like I could’ve blinked and missed the transition from absolutely despising each other to being head-over-heels in love.
I think that the point I’m trying to make is that the characters weren’t consistent, which is probably my biggest complaint with this book. Is Bellamy a reclusive author who has panic attacks when she has to go into public or is she a feisty sex kitten who isn’t afraid to go after what she wants? I couldn’t tell, and at times, it felt like I was reading about two different people. Similarly, is Caleb a total jerk who hates his job or is he a sensitive, misunderstood teddy bear? The world may never know.
This review probably makes it sound like I disliked this book, and for that, I apologize. I actually really enjoyed this book and had a lot of fun while reading it. It was only after I finished that I really started thinking about what had happened and trying to piece these characters together. This is a really quick read that kept me interested and had me laughing out loud in almost every chapter. There were some issues with editing that I’m sure will be fixed in the final copy, and I’m sure that a lot of readers will be able to see past my criticisms and will love this book.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC!
Final rating: ★★★☆☆