Review: Realigned by Becca Seymour

While the title of this blog is Hella Gay YA, I’ve never been good at staying on topic. And as an author of gay romances, I figure the important part is ‘gay’ anyway. So I’m going to share my thoughts on the novella Realigned by Becca Seymour.

The cover needs a special shout-out. GORGEOUS, GORGEOUS, GORGEOUS COVER. Yes, I needed to say it three times because it can’t be said enough. BEAUTIFUL, GORGEOUS COVER. Especially in the gay romance genre, this is one of my favorite covers ever.

Quick Summary: When Shaun returns home to the Australian outback, he must decide what to do when his vacation ends, either go back to his life in the United States or stay and start a relationship with police officer Mitch.

Tropes and Book Details: best friends, friends to lovers, small town romance, second chance, short story, contemporary, sweet, steamy

My thoughts: Realigned is fun, fast novella if you want a cute read with a little steam. This is one of the books I picked up in a giveaway and I’m glad I got the opportunity as I hadn’t ready any Becca Seymour before, but it won’t be the last book I read from her.

Plot: Some old author guy once said ‘you can’t go home again,’ but eight years is a pretty long time to stay away. So Shaun returns to the small-town he left behind, his loving family, and the best friend he’s always wanted more from. And if their relationship evolves, can he be convinced to turn his vacation into a permanent change of address?

This is the question the plot revolves around, but it’s more there in the background while the focus is on the relationship between the guys. And their relationship is the best part, so this works out just fine. There is some drama about how Shaun left and revelations from the past, but most of the angst is in the past.

Characters: When people say it’s not rocket science, they aren’t talking to Shaun because he is a rocket scientist. Yet it’s the heart he has trouble with. Isn’t that the way it goes? And also, I am not a rocket scientist, so I’m not totally sure about his job. He works for NASA and does something with the earth, but I’m rounding to ‘rocket scientist’ anyway.

Shaun’s childhood best friend Mitch is a sexy sweetheart who put Shaun’s own happiness first in the past, but now thinks they can be happy together. What else could you want from a fictional boyfriend?

Quote about Mitch

Both grew up in a small Australian community that feels authentic to me and will to you too, unless you are actually from a small Australian community, and then I can’t say whether the experience will ring true for you, but it’s probably close enough for a short story.

Final thoughts: For me, this story is super interesting, very cute, and even a bit steamy. It’s an entertaining read from start to finish. If you enjoy reading standalone novellas about sexy dudes with Australian accents, best friends becoming more, or gay romance in general, you’re good to go and will love every second.

I’m the person who finds something good and wants more of it, so I wish the book was longer, but I also think that’s the mark of a quality story when you’re left wanting more. And as someone who takes forever to read, I do see the value of shorter fiction, though this one felt more like a snippet than totally complete to me. So the perfect time to read this is when you’re in the mood for a quick, feel-good read.

Quote from the book

That Feeling When Review

For my review of That Feeling When, my immediate instinct is to fill in the rest. What comes after that feeling when… the feeling when you’re what? There’s a specific thing S.M. James has in mind, and while I don’t think telling you what that is would be especially spoiler-y, it feels like a jerky thing to do.

Until I saw that it’s literally in the blurb describing the book. As it says, ‘how do you go back to your average life once you’ve experienced That Feeling When … you’re finally happy?’ That feeling when you’re finally happy. There, it’s complete, I feel so much better.

Okay, without further ado, reviewing!

Quick Summary: Archie doesn’t want to be at a fancy summer camp for rich people, but he agreed to go if he didn’t get into the dance school he applied to. Famous actor Landon happens to be shooting a movie at the same place. Neither of them are looking for love, yet are drawn to each other.

Tropes and main elements: famous actor, blackmail, ballet, sexuality crisis, sweet romance, friends to lovers, developing relationship

Overall impression: This sweet novel is perfect for when you wanna escape into a love story. The book really captures all the feelings of falling head over heels and makes every moment Landon and Archie spend together feel special and intense, whether they’re rock-climbing, breaking an entering, or scuba diving.

from novel

2021-03-26 (2)

 

meetings

 Archie is the son of a media mogul who dishes dirt on celebrities. He’s trying to make it through the summer and doesn’t know what to do with his life if he’s not a dancer. His initial opinion on his sexuality seems to be, ‘god, not all male dancers are gay.’ Which, you know, is true, though this also doesn’t mean he’s straight. Growing up with money and the finer things in life, he’s not easily impressed with social status or people who throw around their social status. So when he stumbles upon a film shoot in progress, and Hollywood heartthrob Landon immediately bitches at him, he hates Landon on sight.

While Landon had an off day, he’s not who Archie assumes. By which I mean he’s a total sweetheart. I adore Landon, he’s everything good and perfect in the world. Seriously. Landon’s a sincere bi softie who loves his mother and is very cute when crushing on someone.

Despite his fame, Landon grew up with nothing, and to me is overall more relatable than Archie. Australian Landon is homesick, not used to being a star, and not totally on board with some of the changes he’s made to be a successful actor, like downplaying his aboriginal heritage and keeping his bisexuality secret. He doesn’t love acting so much as his hefty salary that helps provide for his large family back home.

Despite getting off on the wrong foot, this doesn’t feel like a story where the main characters start as enemies. Archie’s first impression, while understandable, is just so different than the reality. Landon’s subsequent apology and wholehearted efforts to make friends quickly make this clear, so Archie spends their initial encounters more confused about how to feel than anything else.

romance

Can a relationship fit as a slow burn and insta-love at the same time? If possible, this book completely qualifies. Despite a tense start, their interest in each other is immediate and feels inevitable, though it takes a while for them to get to know each other and for everything to come together. I enjoyed the pace of their developing relationship. And since they’re already low key crushing, every new morsel of info learned becomes thrilling and every interaction causes them to fall a little deeper. It’s easy to get swept away in the romance with them.

While other stuff is going on, this book primarily focuses on the romance. So if you’re digging the romance, you’re good to go. If you’re more interested in the blackmail elements, or their personal character development, or anything else other than the romance, maybe skip this one or you probably won’t feel satisfied when you’re done with the book.

plot

Both guys are facing some tough decisions, such as figuring out where their lives are headed. Plus, Archie has an impending sexuality crisis and there’s a blackmailer watching them and making demands. These issues come up now and then, though all feel secondary and take a backseat to the romance.

For example, Archie’s dad airs celebrity dirty laundry, and Landon’s a closeted celebrity. Hello, inherent drama! Yet there’s not as much as you might expect. By the time families arrive for the end of camp, it’s kinda hard to stop the relationship train or even slow it down. 

While I don’t think there’s a problem telling a love story this way, the characters and their personal stories interested me enough that I’d have been happy with fleshing out the other plots more and diving deeper into character development.

On the blackmail front, I will give credit where due. I made a guess about the blackmailer fairly early and stuck to my guns about it. I ended up being wrong, so congrats, book! You surprised me.

 

more

This paragraph has some general spoilers for the end.  The only thing that bugged me a bit was Archie’s attitude to his family. Despite his poor opinion of them, they seemed very loving and supportive. They took his coming out extremely well, though he seemed sorta underwhelmed about this. If he’d used the opportunity to get closer to them or there was more acknowledgement he’d gotten them wrong, it’d be fine. His dad was set up as a villain so much that it would have been a fun subversion of expectations, except Archie’s attitude read to me as, ‘well, that’s nice. Anyway, what’s Landon up to?’

Maybe I’m unfair for wishing he were a little more grateful. Should everyone accept LGBTQ+ sexualities without batting an eye or getting any credit for it? Yeah. Are we there yet? I don’t think so.

If I gave star ratings, I’d say four stars for this one. While not in love with the novel, I thoroughly enjoyed it all the way through.