Reviewed by: Taylor
AUTHOR: Nic Star
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 130 pages
Ben Cooper gave up on following his dreams to keep the peace in his family. Best friend Spencer Henderson has always been Ben’s rock. For Spence, who is in love with Ben, supporting Ben always came first, but as Ben starts to date their friend Suzie, Spence has to think of himself for the first time. The ramifications of one fateful night means leaving their small town may be Spence’s only option to protect his broken heart.
With trouble escalating at home and Spence out of reach, Ben finds it harder to cope. Without Spence’s help, Ben’s life may finally spiral out of control.
Even though I’m always honest in my reviews, I do, at times, feel bad about giving low ratings to new/newer authors, but in this case, I really struggled to finish it, and I’m struggling to find the positives.
I think the idea behind It’s Not Easy was cute and had a decent set-up, but the execution failed it. The biggest issue I had is that the ENTIRE book is telling. Page after page there was hardly any action or dialogue, and I kept being told what had happened, what was going on, but there wasn’t anything in the words to back it all up. Spencer Henderson and Ben Cooper have been friends for years and they ultimately fall in love. How or why I’m not so sure.
If this review seems jumbled, it’s because that’s how the book felt. The dialogue felt simplistic and stilted. The words coming out of the main characters’ mouths didn’t seem at all natural or flowed well. There were also numerous moments of filler information that didn’t progress the plot or the characters along. For instance, endless descriptions of the homes and food preparations. They went on and on and on. When you spend more time reading about interior design, architecture, and food prep than you do the two characters interacting, you might have some problems in your romance book. Additionally, some of the statements about the characters felt corny or childish such as when Ben noted that Spencer might be kind of a geek for “reading and liking puzzles”.
The repetition killed me as well. I understand that Mel is like a mother hen to the characters, I understand that Ben felt Spencer was his safe place, and I don’t need to read the phrase: “…cat that got the canary” more than once. Telling me over and over that Mel is motherly or that Ben felt safe with Spencer doesn’t mean the reader will find it more important or forgot the previous times it was mentioned. If it’s shown to me through character actions or traits, I can connect the threads myself.
Aside from the previous issues, I believe the side characters and their drama completely overshadowed any character development between Ben and Spencer, and I’m not sure at all what it added to the story. You have a homophobic and abusive father, mothers popping in and out to give advice, a side couple that just felt…there, and a female friend who again felt like a prop dropped in to contrive some drama that went nowhere. There was also the big misunderstanding which causes the characters to not talk to each other (even more than they already weren’t doing on page) and then they pop up again towards the end and all is well. But even the moments that could have been explored just…weren’t. Ben’s realizations didn’t seem realistic and felt very anticlimactic, and I’m not really sure who Spencer was other than he had a nice family.
Sorry, I just didn’t enjoy this one, but I do think if it had been cleaned up and strengthened in some areas, it would have been a cute novella.