Book Title: Under the Lights
Author: Dahlia Adler
Published Date: June 30th, 2015
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Genre: YA LGBT
Series: Book 2 in Daylight Falls series
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository
Synopsis from Goodreads
Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents’ wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show,Daylight Falls … opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he’s trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he’s in the spotlight—on everyone’s terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.
Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents’ disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she’s painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van’s life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she’ll have to choose between the one thing she’s always loved … and the person she never imagined she could.
Disclaimer: I received this book as an e-ARC from Spencer Hill Contemporary via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
I don’t know why it took me so long to read this book. If someone wants to figure that out for me, that’d be awesome. This book was utter perfection. Not only was the romance swoon worthy and sexy, but the friendships in here were absolutely awesome as well. Not to mention the diversity.
Josh was a royal pain in the ass initially. He drove me batcrap insane, but at the same time, he’d have me laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. He had the combination of humor and douche-canoe down pat. At the same time, I loved the friendship that developed between him and Vanessa. We don’t see enough opposite sex friendships in books and that really bugs me. It is possible for a girl & a guy to be friends and I really hate the implication that men & women cannot be friends without there being a ulterior motive.
Vanessa is involved with a boy named Zander. This boy wants things that Vanessa doesn’t want. He wants her to focus on him, and the future with him. He wants that future to include a purity pledge. That’s not what Vanessa really wants and she struggles with that and what that means. He is also intimidated by Josh, yes crude, rude pain in the ass, Josh. He’s convinced that Vanessa is stepping out on him.
Well technically it’s not Josh, Zander should be worried about. It’s Brianna. Brianna who is initially Vanessa’s stand in for Ally, Vanessa’s best friend. Brianna who quickly becomes Vanessa’s confidant and good friend. Brianna talks to Vanessa about the whole purity pledge thing
“You really don’t want to have sex until you’re married?”
“What if I don’t?”
“Then I respect that. If it’s really what you want. Is it?”
First of all, I absolutely LOVE Brianna. Not only does she support a person’s right to wait until marriage to have sex, but she verbalizes that viewpoint. Not very many people would voice that. And that is sad & so depressing. If someone wants to wait to be married to have sex, that’s their choice. Even though Brianna didn’t believe Vanessa, she still respected Vanessa’s choices. That’s important in both a friendship & a relationship.
“I just kissed my first girl. And yeah, I think I might be…”
“Maybe. Or maybe I’m bisexual. What if I am?”
“What if you are? Like boys all you want Park. It still won’t fix this. I’m bi and I promise you it’s not a fucking light switch. You can’t just set it on ‘boy’ because it’s inconvenient that you like a girl right now. Widening your options doesn’t change the feelings you have.”
This stuck with me for many different reasons, most of them being because it took me four years to admit to anyone that I was bisexual. I struggled with feeling like I had to flip a switch and make sure it stayed on “boy” because it was inconvenient for me to like a girl. I totally related to Vanessa because of this. I remember feeling the same things that she felt.
The sex scene was steamy and sexy and so perfect. I absolutely loved it. There are virtually no LGBT sex scenes in YA, so I was super excited to see Bri & Van get it on and for it not to fade to black like so many other YA’s do. I was so, SO thrilled. I am very pro-sex in my YA and in some ways, even more in the subgenre of YA LGBT because there is such a lack of full on sexy scenes that don’t fade to black.
Van then has to go through the tough process of coming out. Coming out to her friends, her fans & to her family. Josh and Ally handle it perfectly and Josh’s response made me cry.
“So you’re a lesbian K-drama, not an axe murderer. Why do you say that like it’s the most horrible confession on earth?”
“Because it may as well be, and you know it!”
Van handles this whole thing better than I ever could. Especially given the fact that she lives in the public eye. She tells her parents. Her super conservative, Korean parents, and thankfully, she had her friends & Bri to console her when things become rough. I couldn’t help but remember how rough it was for me when I came out. Especially how rough things were between my Catholic relatives and myself. Things are better now, but it took a really long time. So reading about Van’s struggles with her family, really hit home for me.
This book and the friendships and the romance was utter perfection and I cannot recommend this book enough. Adler is amazing, and she captured so many of my thoughts and made them come out of Van. If you need a diverse read with a couple you can root for, then you need to pick up this book.