Author: RJ Scott
Publisher: Love Lane Books
Cover Artist: Unknown
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 05/27/2016
Length: Long Novel (~ 100K+)
Genre: Gay Romance
When the only way to win is to hide who you are, how far are you prepared to go?
Reuben “Angel” Jacobs is one step away from giving it all up. Losing a place in the live finals of Sing UK almost kills him. He has no choice but to go home and work for the family business, even though it means giving up his dreams and proving his old bullies right.
Corey Dixon is a rocker at heart. Being on the spectrum means that making sense of other people’s ‘normal’ is hard in itself, let alone in the chaos of a high-powered competition. Singing is his safe space, the only way he can think through the noise in his head. Messing up his audition for the live shows means his journey is over, and it’s the worst day of his life.
The judges throw them a lifeline and create a boy band from the near-miss hopefuls. Angel, Corey, and three others are put together in a room and offered the chance to sing as a group. Agreeing to become part of the new band means Corey has to hide who he is and what Angel has come to mean to him.
Is winning worth the price Corey and Angel have to pay?
I hesitated with reading this one as Asperger was a word that entered our family when my youngest brother was in his early teens. I remember the worry, I remember the frustration and I remember the anger with the medical profession who threw this word out there and expected us to go off on our merry way. I wasn’t sure how difficult it would be to read but I did feel it would be accurate given what it means to the author and boy did she do a fantastic job with it.
Boy Banned starts with five young men who have all just failed to make the live shows of a reality programme – think X Factor. The three judges have a wildcard and this is offered to the boys on the condition that they will give up their dreams of solo stardom and pull together to form a new group. Although this story is about Corey and Angel all five boys get a good amount of page time and they are a fascinating group but for me it’s how they grow and how they become friends and staunch allies for each other that made this so enjoyable.
So Wildcard, the name they choose for the group is very apt, are formed and they are pretty rubbish. They have no real dancing skills, they can each sing by themselves but together it’s not so good, they each have their own difficulties in life and personal reasons for being in the competition and not one of them has much hope that they will succeed with the present format so effectively they are all watching their dreams come to an end.
The singing and the competition took backstage for me really throughout the entire story. What fascinated me was the actual characters, how they grew and developed and how they became friends. From the start we know Angel is gay but with Corey not so much, certainly the producers of the show and the monstrous mentor Brianna don’t know, but when they find out they are determined to keep it on the down low and Brianna, what a hideous person she is, won’t stop at anything to cover it up.
Corey is forced into a situation he is not comfortable with and being that uncomfortable is huge for him. His sheer need for Angel and the way Angel so quickly becomes able to read him is fascinating and so hopeful. The way Toby, DK and Scott work to protect their bandmates and also to understand Corey was perfect. The ending comes fast and right up until it was announced I wasn’t sure which way it would go and the epilogue what was needed.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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