I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
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Ashley Stevens is gay, a nurse, and in love/lust with Sebastian Gray, an actor, presumably straight. At night, Ashley spends his time running a bunch of social media sites for his crush, with help from a couple of online friends. When he is contacted by someone claiming to be Sebastian, he first thinks he's being pranked, but soon learns that this is the real deal. Sebastian then asks Ashley to officially run the sites for him, to which Ashley agrees. Soon, they chat via FB Messenger daily.
However, during the course of their early conversations, Sebastian assumes Ashley is female, and says so. Ashley allows him to believe this, and this starts a long deception that culminates in an event in NYC where Ashley overhears a conversation Sebastian has on the phone while hiding in the bathroom.
While I usually like this particular trope, I didn't like so much how it was executed here. It felt as if the author didn't dive deeply enough into this deception and the ensuing feelings this caused. Additionally, as the whole story is told from Ashley's POV, I didn't really get a good feel for Sebastian and his thoughts and emotions. The whole thing felt a little too shallow for me.
We see Ashley struggle with keeping the truth from Sebastian, but I didn't feel that his excuses were valid for not telling the truth. Their conversations were private, so I didn't quite understand why Ashley thought he had to keep up the lie. Perhaps that's because I'm such a truthful person myself, and abhor lies in general. His reasoning, that Sebastian would drop their budding relationship if he were to find out Ashley is male and gay, wasn't good enough for me.
Once the deception comes to light, of course things go south very quickly. Sebastian is justifiably angry with Ashley, and won't listen to any excuses. And it was during this scene where something really niggled at me - Sebastian is portrayed as not having a good understanding of how social media works, or how FB and Twitter work in general, but he was familiar with the term "catfishing". That particular part didn't ring true for me, either. It was like he pulled that term out of thin air, and it didn't fit with how his character had been portrayed up to that point.
But this is a romance, after all, so we do get the HFN after the two have a serious and honest conversation after the blow-up.
For me, the book was too short, and the ending felt too rushed for the characters, especially since we didn't get to see into Sebastian's head at all. I also felt that the excuse "well, you lied to me, too" wasn't working in Ashley's favor. The deception was a huge breach of trust for me, and I was having a really difficult time forgiving Ashley for keeping the lie alive for so long, when he had multiple opportunities to clear things up.
Other readers may feel differently.
** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **