Story Rating: 3.5 stars
Audio Rating: 3 stars
Narrator: Matthew Lloyd Davies
Length: 5 hours, 44 minutes
Pasha Trueman is determined to win Britain’s reality show singing contest. The win would absolutely change his life. Pasha’s voice isn’t the best out of all the contestants, he knows this, but he plays up the charisma that wins him votes.
Ed Britten entered the competition upon returning from the military and Afghanistan. He still carries the inner scars from battle and an ambush that forever changed his world. He is determined to win and if his voice and the song he sings can be heard, he will be able to keep a promise he made to his closest friend. Ed keeps to himself, he’s quiet and subdued, but his heart is left wide open.
Ed and Pasha learn quickly that life on a reality show isn’t quite as fair as they thought. The producers look for any angle to cause friction, including calling out Pasha’s Afghani heritage to try to rile up the soldier in Ed. The guys fight back, team up, and create a fake relationship that quickly goes viral. Ed knows that he really does want Pasha, but Pasha is focused on winning and also has never been with a man. Under constant scrutiny, it’s not easy to begin a relationship and there is an entire reality show in their way. But if the fans have anything to say about it, their relationship will live on in infamy and while it’s a cyber story of true love, it’s the story of #truebrit.
If you are hooked on reality shows and #hashtags and ‘shipping and all things viral, this may be the book for you. The majority of this story takes place on the set of the reality show or intertwined with events relating to the show.
Pasha is determined to win and prove himself to everyone. He’s fairly alone in the world without any family and it’s a slow reveal as to the reason. He’s always on for the cameras and if his voice won’t completely get the job done, then his open shirt will. He has kept his distance from the silent and broody Ed for the majority of the competition, but now that there are only a few contestants left the producers are looking for sparks, but only on their terms.
Ed and Pasha form an unlikely alliance and one that they really never saw coming as their photo becomes legendary. But not everyone is pleased, especially the producers, and it’s a nasty game of dirty dealings to get the upper hand. Both guys have their own reasons for being on the show and Ed’s becomes a heartfelt tribute that every one gets behind.
We get viewpoint from both characters, but Pasha’s character wasn’t as developed. Ed is gay and his feelings for Pasha are clear. Pasha is attracted to Ed, sure, but his feelings about being with a man for the first time or much about his sexuality at all is not gone into in any depth. And that was what I was looking for from the characters, especially with Pasha, just a little more. There is a lot of push and pull due to the dynamics of signing a reality show contract and the guys are at a full simmer for a while. The results of the reality show, while predictable to me, did fully capture my attention. Also, if you are a lover of epilogues like myself, this one offers full closure.
The audio version of this book definitely affected the feel and overall enjoyment of this book for me. To start, the narrator had a fairly pleasant voice with appropriate dialect to the England location and a distinction between the characters. There was just something overall about his voice going forward that could not hold my attention or focus and I found myself going back to listen to portions of this book way more times than I would recommend. Also, the voice he chose for Ed was distracting. While Ed was a subdued and more somber character, he was on a reality show that revolved around presence. The narrator chose to portray him as droopy and depressed with a tone reminiscent of a famous donkey in a well-known children’s book series. This definitely then didn’t sit well during the few intimate scenes.
Overall, this book was okay for me. There were some highs and some lows but the narrator here didn’t capture my imagination the way an audio book should. But if you are looking for a book set against the back drop of reality TV, this is an option.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.