Buy Link: Chrysalis
Author: Emily Gould
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: Novella

Rating: 4.25 stars

Luke is painfully shy but unable to say no when a friend asks him for a favor. What does his roommate, Emmy, want him to do? Why only ask out one of the hottest rugby players on the university team on her behalf! Luke stammers out a request for a date, only to find out to his horror that Josh is gay and thinks the date is with Luke. Luke hasn’t had a date in forever, like in never. He’s socially inept, sexually inexperienced, and frightened by large men to boot. Josh is physically huge, self assured, and a hot jock. So Luke can’t believe it when Josh agrees to go out on a date that seems to be headed for disaster in every respect. What is Luke going to do?

I thought this was a sweet take on the mistaken identity plot. The story is written from Luke’s POV and he realistically comes across as timorous, smart, and insecure to the point of being prickly with others. Josh is a wonderful character, with many interests and layers. I like the fact that the reader and Luke both get to know him better as the dates proceed. Chrysalis is made up of five chapters, with a date as each chapter. I liked this idea and thought it was a cute way to see the progression of the relationship. However, at only five dates, the relationship seemed to move at a pace that felt forced by the short length of the book.

I had some reservations with the story. One has to do with colloquialisms and vernacular of what I assume to be Australia or New Zealand. In one case, Josh says to Luke after Luke has asked him out, “Well, kid, you’ve pulled. Outside the front gates. Tomorrow, at seven.” I will be honest with you. I have no idea what that means. I assumed it to mean “ok, you’ve got a date” but who knows? Another time, Luke pulls on a “waistcoat” to go out to dinner. Hmmmmm…oh, wait, they are talking about vests! At least I think they are. Along with eating “minces” and calling himself a “cock,” I knew I was in foreign territory. I just wasn’t sure which one. I love the inclusion of local phrases/words when it enhances the story, but not when you are flummoxed enough to stop reading because you have to look something up.

My other issue with Chrysalis includes red herrings tossed into the story. Luke is afraid of large men but you never learn why. He also has a large scar on his forehead that he is petrified of people seeing to the point of going ballistic if anyone touches him there. Only the presence of the scar is as unexplained as is his reaction. I think that if the story has been a little longer than 15,000 words, than the end wouldn’t have seemed so abrupt and the holes in the story so glaring.

Still, Chrysalis is a sweet story of a young man’s journey from nerd caterpillar to fulfilled butterfly, happy at the end with his Josh.