Fred is a sarcastic, dry-humor sort of girl that bakes cupcakes, works at a thrift store, and is soon to become the best friend of a cabaret singer. She meets Nicholas, or rather, Vivaca Blue, and the two hit off grandly. And from there the story progresses.
I couldn't finish this book. Not because of the "controversial" subject matter, but rather because midway through I just realized that there is no plot. And the characters are not strong enough to carry me through the entire book without a plot. I read through about half of book (chapter seven) before I just couldn't stand it anymore and just skimmed the rest of book.
I feel like this book is more a platform for understanding the mindset and challenges faced by drag queens or people who feel estranged by the entrapment of gender stereotypes. Fred is a crusader for the strange, a person who brings together all walks of life, all the stereotypes in the world, fighting against the bitchy and the rude and intolerant. The book also sneaks in other philosophy about the UK and also about skinny and fat girls and sex. You see, I don't mind all of that - all books do it to a certain extent. But I feel like this was the book's sole purpose, hidden under a masquerade of sex and romance. Cool, but I wish there was more plot. Sigh.
A more systematic review on the details of the book:
First things I notice in the first fifty pages of the book is one: the amount of unnecessary detail given through first person eyes (number of cupcakes, or zipping up purses or not), and two: the old cliché of instant attraction and descriptions of main characters. Both things cause me to seriously consider dropping this book, but I powered through because the premise is interesting.
Although the cast is approximately 25, the story reads more like it's meant for sixteen. Cheap romantic thrills and very fluttery feelings abound. Too much time spent on clothes, and how each character looks, and just such superficial details. It talks chemistry between Nicolas and Fred, but holy goodness, I don't even see it. It's just descriptions of feelings, nothing to back those feelings up.
While the writing isn't exactly amateur… it still has its problems. I definitely noticed the author loves her synonyms for she said he said. It's all she "replied" or he "joked" or she "observed". That is dialogue writing 101 to NOT do. I say it's not amateur because it does alright grammar and spelling-wise, but I just feel like there is so much unnecessary crap in the story. So much unnecessary dialogue, unnecessary details, etc. It's boring.
The attempt to make Fred a non-typical-romantic character really does fail. Although she's sarcastic and does deadpan humor and kicks away boys that hit on her, she still has that gooey romantic middle center that all romance novels inevitably have. I don't have a problem with that. It's just that the book tries too hard to cast her as non-typical. I don't buy for one second.
So in the end, one and a half stars because originally I give one star to books I can't finish reading; but it really deserves more than one star because it has proper grammar and spelling, everything makes sense. It's just I didn't find what I was looking for. So one and half star rounded up to two because I can say I thought it was okay. It just wasn't for me.
Recommended for people who are curious or interested in characters that break out of gender stereotypes, for people who want to read about a different type of romance, for people who want to read about romance and sex.