Free Mitchell loves the theater. In his dreams he's the one taking the spotlight. But so far he's played against character by following in his father's footsteps as an investment banker. When he's masquerading as Dr. Who or Sherlock Holmes to help his brother, he feels he can escape his shy, dorky persona. But nothing's prepared him to play boyfriend to a gorgeous girl like Samantha Wolf.I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Samantha isn't quite sure what to think of Free. He's cute, sweet, and quirky, but his outlandish costumes make him seem crazy. However, it turns out Sam has a soft spot for theater nerds. And the more time they spend together, the more their steamy romance begins to take center stage. Only problem is, there doesn't seem to be a script. And it's anyone's guess how this one will end.
Rating: 4 Stars
I wasn't sure what to expect from this novel, as it was a new author to me. Having read it, I would now say that I would be more than happy to read more books by Shannyn Schroeder, especially if they're a part of of Hot & Nerdy series.
One of the first things that I liked were the pop culture references. There were a lot of them, some of them favorites of mine, but I never felt like they were overpowering or just thrown in there to keep the book relevant. Free, for example, cosplays as a way to help draw attention from his self conscious brother while he exercises.
The family dynamics in this book could easily have gone over the top and become cliches of problem families: rich parents that think they know what's best for their kids, pressuring them into the parents plans, etc. While the narrative easily could have gone that way, the author chose to humanize Free's parents as well as Samantha's (the female MC). It was refreshing to see that happen, for the parents to be overbearing as parents can be, but to not spiral into these awful people that care more about image and status than the happiness of their children.
Which leads me to the main characters, Free and Samantha. They were each a joy to read, together and on their own. Usually I'd expect a character like Free (an actor in his spare time) to rebel against his investment banker dad and say how his acting was his art, man! In this, however, while he loved acting, it didn't have to be everything to him. He was getting the best of both worlds: his acting which was a break from the real world, and the banking job which he liked and was very good at.
Samantha was a good person, studying to be a social worker. She did have a few of the rich girl trying to make it on her own traits (refusing Daddy's car, dating boys that she knew would annoy her dad), but I didn't think that they overpowered her personality. She genuinely wants to help her "clients", the women and children at the domestic abuse center she volunteers at. You could feel it through her involvement with projects for them, reading through practice case studies, and so on.
I liked how the problem of the story, the thing that might break them up, wasn't ludicrous as I see in romance novels sometimes. It was believable and while, yes, I think Sam bore rather more responsibility in it even becoming a thing, it wasn't something that they let blind them to the power of owning up to your mistakes and pursuing a future together.
I found this video on my Youtube Favorites list from ages ago and it reminds me perfectly of Free, especially with his costumes, but also Samantha because she is deciding who she wants to be regardless of expectations and pursuing it wholeheartedly.
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