Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler
Series: Daylight Falls #2
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: June 30, 2015
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Format: eARC, 312 pages
How I got it: NetGalley
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes
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.
When I read Behind the Scenes, as invested as I was in Ally and Liam’s story, I still found myself wanting to get to Vanessa’s story. I was intrigued by her character and her relationship with her family, as they seemed to want more traditional things for her than she wanted for herself. When I realized her book, in fact, was going to be a LGBTQ story, I found myself even more interested. While I’ve read several m/m romances, this would be my first f/f. I wasn’t sure if/how it would work for me, but at the end of the day, it’s about two people falling in love. How can you not get behind that?
I liked Vanessa in Behind the Scenes. I loved her in this book, even in the moments where I wanted to yell at her for what kinda seemed like playing with Brianna’s feelings. On closer look, however, she wasn’t doing it consciously. She really was just that conflicted about the things she was feeling. With her upbringing, it wasn’t easy to admit she might be gay. She was struggling to come to terms with so much during this book – her own personal truth, her career, growing up and being on her own. Who hasn’t faced at least one of these struggles at some point? It was because of that, if not her sexuality, that I found it easy to connect with her. I loved her journey and her character growth as she accepted herself.
The other half of this story was Josh’s. Oh, I had some mixed feelings about Josh along the way. He came off as such a self-centered, spoiled ass in the first book, it was a little tougher to get me on his side. But, it happened sooner or later. He was facing his own issues in this book and, while I don’t think his character growth was quite as impressive as Vanessa’s, I appreciate it for what it was and I don’t want to diminish it. I think he has a little further to go – and I’d love to catch up with him in a few months to see his progression – but he certainly won me over. I saw a whole new side of him in this book, one that was more vulnerable and honest. I liked it.
Under the Lights was a fantastic read. I couldn’t get through it fast enough and, once I was finished, I desperately wished I had read more slowly or that there was more to the story. But, not because it was incomplete. Because I adored these characters and just wished for more. What we did get more of, however, was Ally and Liam, who are facing brand new issues in this book as she’s away at school and he’s working. That was, honestly, a little unsettling because I liked them so much. But, it was also real. Long distance relationships are hard under normal circumstances. When you’re dating a celebrity and you’re on opposite coasts? There are bound to be troubles.
This book is classified as young adult, but I would definitely say that, with the issues it takes on, it’s absolutely on the upper end of YA and almost new adult. I think it will easily appeal to readers of both genres, too. Under the Lights gets all the stars from me. I wish I could give more than five, as a matter of fact. It was real, raw and beautiful.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.