TITLE: Be Dazzled
AUTHOR: Ryan La Sala
RELEASE DATE: January 1, 2021
SETTING: Boston, MA
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Fire
GENRE(S): YA Romance, Contemporary Romance, LGBT
Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for my DRC in exchange for my honest review.
Who’s ready to sparkle??
Project Runway goes to Comic Con in an epic queer love story about creativity, passion, and finding the courage to be your most authentic self.
Raffy has a passion for bedazzling. Not just bedazzling, but sewing, stitching, draping, pattern making–for creation. He’s always chosen his art over everything–and everyone–else and is determined to make his mark at this year’s biggest cosplay competition. If he can wow there, it could lead to sponsorship, then art school, and finally earning real respect for his work. There’s only one small problem… Raffy’s ex-boyfriend, Luca, is his main competition.
Raffy tried to make it work with Luca. They almost made the perfect team last year after serendipitously meeting in the rhinestone aisle at the local craft store–or at least Raffy thought they did. But Luca’s insecurities and Raffy’s insistence on crafting perfection caused their relationship to crash and burn. Now, Raffy is after the perfect comeback, one that Luca can’t ruin.
But when Raffy is forced to partner with Luca on his most ambitious build yet, he’ll have to juggle unresolved feelings for the boy who broke his heart, and his own intense self-doubt, to get everything he’s ever wanted: choosing his art, his way.
This was such a great, fun, loud read!
This book slayed me on so many levels. I felt so strongly for Raffy. He feels like he has to live up to the expectations of this huge force in his life – his mom. With a famous artist as a mother, especially one who doesn’t approve of the way he shows his own artistic creativity, he has to hide some major parts of himself. It’s not even that she disapproves of his sexuality, but that she disapproves of him on a totally different level. How hard that must be.
Raffy is such a wonderful human. He is full of life and full of love, not to mention the fact that he is brimming with creativity. He is full of the most beautiful individuality. He loves what he loves, and even at risk of detrimental quality of life (if his mom were to learn of his predilection for cosplay and dressing up so flamboyantly), he strives for greatness in his craft. But he measures himself to what he thinks he needs to be in Evie’s eyes… in Luca’s eyes… in the judges eyes…
I loved the cosplay aspect of this book. I love the idea of creating these beautiful costumes and presenting them as an extension of yourself. I also loved the relationship between Luca and Raffy. When they are at their best they shine bright. And when they are at their worst, you still root for them so hard. I sure did! I love that La Sala does such a great job of shattering that masculine gender role. Why can’t men wear pretty things? Does that not mean they are still men?
This book meant a great deal to me and the characters will stick with me for a long while. It just made me feel so hopeful.