SYNOPSIS: Chris Bellows is just trying to get through high school and survive being the only stepchild in the social-climbing Fontaine family, whose recently diminished fortune hasn’t dimmed their desire to mingle with Upper East Side society. Chris sometimes feels more like a maid than part of the family. But when Chris’s stepsister Kimberly begins dating golden boy J. J. Kennerly, heir to a political dynasty, everything changes. Because Chris and J. J. fall in love . . . with each other.
With the help of a new friend, Coco Chanel Jones, Chris learns to be comfortable in his own skin, let himself fall in love and be loved, and discovers that maybe he was wrong about his step-family all along. All it takes is one fairy godmother dressed as Diana Ross to change the course of his life.
GENRE: Young Adult, GLBT, Contemporary Romance
RATING: ★★☆☆☆ / 2 Disappointed Stars.
REVIEW: I received this book from Sky Pony Press in exchange for an honest review.
In general, I don't like it when a review starts out with "I really really wanted to like it, but...", because of course a reader jumps into any book with the hopes of liking it, and saying so seems a bit redundant. But in this case in actually seems appropriate, so ... People, I really really wanted to like this book but I just, (sigh), didn't. And that makes me sad.
There were several little things that rubbed me the wrong way, things that wouldn't have been so bad in the overall story arc if they weren't added to one very big thing. I hated J.J. Kennerly. The big love interest, the psuedo-Kennedy-esque "it" boy, I hated him. He was unnecessarily selfish and cruel, and for a while I was giving him the benefit of the doubt, but partway through he makes a harsh and unwarranted comment about Kimberly, and it was just over for me. And unfortunately, while the author alludes to the long conversations and time that he and Chris spent together, talking and falling in love, we the reader aren't privy to those conversations. So the love just fell flat.
Surrounding my severe dislike for J.J., everything else just started to fall apart. I started to dislike Chris as well. In the beginning you understand the Cinderella connections the author is making but he didn't take it far enough. In an effort to make no-one the "bad guy", but rather misunderstood relationships, so that there can be character growth all around, the author sabotaged his own lead. Chris ends up feeling like the antagonist and the sympathy for him just crashes and burns.
I was so excited for a drag queen to play the part of fairy godmother but once again I felt like the author didn't take it far enough. Apart from the pivotal moment in the beginning, the fairy godmother aspect of the character was largely absent from the rest of the book. It was nice that Coco and Chris become friends but I really missed an element of confidante. And then the ending tried to throw Coco back in again but in such a strange and jarring way that it was a bit baffling.
In fact, the entire ending was incredibly abrupt and open-ended. But by that point I was just glad to be done so I didn't really give it too much thought. Basically, I loved the general idea of the book and what the author was trying to achieve, but in the end I just didn't enjoy it.