Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: Balancing Act
SERIES: Shooting Stars #4
AUTHOR: K. Vale
PUBLISHER: Liquid Silver Books
LENGTH: 40,029 words
RELEASE DATE: June 27, 2016
Greg Dwyer and Kyrie Li are living the glorious couple life in New York City. Or are they? When struggling actor Kyrie lands a modeling job, he’s ecstatic to have extra cash to spend on his best-friend-turned-boyfriend.
Of course, Greg is suspicious Anders Berglund, the gorgeous and androgynous Swedish cover model the designers love to pair with Kyrie, is after his man. And maybe Kyrie encourages a growing closeness with the guy?
Greg is probably to blame if Kyrie is drawn to the openly gay and seriously beautiful Andy. With Andy, Kyrie can be himself, as loud and proud as he’s always been. But Greg’s sexuality stays firmly locked in the closest except when he’s with Kyrie’s supportive family or alone with the man he loves.
To make matters worse, Greg’s out-of-touch mom meets with financial ruin and moves in with the couple, forcing him into the closet in his own home.
Can Greg find a way to stand up to Mommy Dearest and win back a love he fought so hard to reach? He discovers the road to pride begins at home and with accepting oneself first. Otherwise, it’s just a dead-end street.
It has been over a year since Kyrie and Greg finally sorted themselves out and got together. Sadly all that sorting never included coming out for Greg, and that secret they now both have to live with in day to day life is really starting to wear on Kyrie. He has never been in the closet, and not being able to be himself in public with the man he loves, for fear that Greg’s fears will eat him alive, is getting harder by the day. Slowly Kyrie is trying to show that Greg has nothing to fear, and there does seem to be some (infinitesimal) progress…but then Greg’s mother shows up and all bets are off and all closets are locked up tight. Having to now pretend to be nothing to the man he loves but a friend, and having the man he loves grow increasingly desperate to pretend that nary a gay thought has ever entered his mind–let alone his bedroom–might just be the thing that breaks this model’s back.
This book, unlike the other three books in the series, can not really be read as a standalone. I mean, I guess you could, but I don’t know why you’d want to. The build up to all the shit that is going down here in this story is kinda directly related to all the shit that went down in the previous book.
Though I must say that I think Greg’s case of the narnia syndrome was really turned up to the highest level possible in this book. I think I got the reasoning behind it a lot more in the last book, since he was trying to deal with his growing feelings for Kyrie as a lover, at the same time as having to deal with the world seeing them as nothing more than ex-brothers-in-law. There were some points of out and out denial to other people, but not nearly as bad as it was in this book. Had there been more of a catalyst for why he seemed to get worse as time went on, and not better, I would have understood it better.
Not that I didn’t enjoy the train-wreck-in-progress that was Kyrie and Greg’s relationship in this book. I really like books that force people to work out their shit, and that show that I love you is not the gateway to a HEA if you are not willing to work on the relationship every step of the way. I also liked how at the end Kyrie kinda realized how he wasn’t exactly helping things get better by acting on his anger. Don’t get me wrong, what Greg ends up doing is massively stupid and he should definitely be sleeping on the couch until his grovelling is sufficient…but it wasn’t just Greg’s (monumental) fuckups that made the relationship go to the brink.
The other part of the ending was a bit harder for me. Most of it was ok…but the part with the police and the shooting. Yeah, I’m a bit gun-shy of gun violence these days and that made it kinda hard to really enjoy. Plus I never really understood how the resolution of the crises happened. It seemed a bit too TV cop-show-magic for my liking. The tension and the subsequent break were great…but the way it came about didn’t come off as plausible at all to me.
Overall, I did enjoy this. And since Kyrie and Greg were by far my favorite pair in this series, I was really happy to see the next chapter in their life. Despite the few things that seemed a bit forced for dramatic effect, it was a good story.