Wednesday, June 29, 2016

[ARC Review]: "Fierce and Fabulous"

Fierce and Fabulous by Elizabeth Varlet
Publisher: Carina Press (June 27, 2016)
Series: Sassy Boyz, 1
Genre: M/M Romance 

The first book in a scorching new male/male series by Elizabeth Varlet. Behind the Sassy Boyz's seductive smiles and sinful dance moves are desires that will leave readers breathless.

Fitch Donovan never thought a lap dance could change his life, but from the moment the gorgeous dancer’s lips touch his, his world comes screeching to a halt. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t shake the desire that rocks him to his core. He’s longed for this passion all his life—he just never dreamed he’d find it with another man.

Sharing a soul-shaking kiss with a straight boy is the kind of drama Ansel Becke just doesn't need. Spotlights aren't made for two and Ansel prefers to keep things on a one-night-only basis. So when Fitch shows up asking for an encore, Ansel knows he should send his gorgeous ass packing.

Though Ansel tries to pretend that what's between him and Fitch is far from fabulous, there's something about the big, burly contractor that makes Ansel's world sparkle in a way no amount of glitter ever could. And Fitch will do whatever it takes to convince Ansel that when the thing you need most in the world falls right into your lap, you’d be a fool to let it go.



Where to Buy*:
More Info:


My Review:




It should be noted first thing that this book contains the Gay For You (GFY) trope. Some people love it, some do not, and that’s fine either way. I’m more or less indifferent to it; it’s not my favorite trope, for various reasons, but I don’t outright hate it on sight.


So why did I grab this one knowing that it was GFY? The cover is gorgeous, and I’m a known cover whore. But the blurb also grabbed me, too. And even though I wasn’t always on board with the GFY trope, I’m still very glad I read Fierce and Fabulous.



Yes, pushing the boundaries was what he lived for. He wanted to twist the fuck out of normal and leave the world baffled in his wake.



I loved Ansel and his confident, flamboyant (and fluid) ways. Honestly, we need more romance characters that fall into different areas on the gender identity spectrum, but that’s a discussion for another time. I’ll leave it at I’m glad Varlet gave Ansel a story that shows readers, like myself, how fluid gender identity can be, and how it’s nothing to be ashamed of or disgusted by. Also, that love is love. J


Anyway, Ansel was great, very much, well, fierce and fabulous. And sexy, too, to be honest. But man, he did not have an easy life. His parents, especially his bitch of a mother, are terrible and treated him like complete shit all through his childhood. It nearly broke my heart to hear about it, and I definitely wanted to give Ansel a big hug. When he starts building a relationship again with his younger brother, I once again wanted to give him a hug, this time a combination of heart ache at their lost years and warm fuzzies at seeing them finally bonding.


Fitch’s near constant denial in the first 20%+ of the book did bother me a bit. I get that he didn’t feel that he was bi or gay, but if he felt such a connection to Ansel, regardless of Ansel’s gender, why question specific labels so much? I get that as a cishet woman, this topic is not my area, so again, I won’t get deep into it, but I did want to mention the thing that bothered me most about Fitch. If he didn’t want to be labeled at all, that would have been okay. Some people do not want labels on their sexuality identity. But his thoughts seemed, to me, more along the lines of “No, I can’t be gay because GAY, ugh. But I like Ansel....” And that gave me pause.



"Stop looking at me like I'm special," Ansel whispered. It was so quiet and said with such a plea, Fitch barely heard because he was so focused on his own discovery. But when he  finally did, the heart in his throat grew so large it almost choked him.

It took a minute to swallow back the emotion enough to respond. "Sorry, Angel, but that's one thing I can't do for you."



Though he did start to grow on me as he accepted, slowly, that labels were not important: the important thing was being there for Ansel, building a possible future together, and to hell with society’s opinions of his boyfriend. By the end, I liked Fitch, but I’m still giving him some side eye for all that heavy denial.



"You look fantastic no matter what you wear, but this isn't who you are." He gestured to the suit and took Ansel's hand. "I don't need you to change yourself for my family, Angel. I want them to know the real you."

"The real me is an alcoholic stripper who wears too much makeup and prances around in heels, not exactly the kind of person parents want dating their formerly straight son."

"No, the real you is a magnetic, funny man who is interesting and beautiful, full of confidence and strength. Never, ever dull your shine, Angel, not for me, not for anyone. You make the world a brighter place."

"Fitch--"

"I want to see glitter and heels and confidence like the night we met. That cocky smirk and that killer strut. Ansel Becke doesn't give a fuck what people think of him."



There’s quite a bit of angst and emotions – Ansel’s family, his struggles with homophobic dicks (that is, people who are dicks, not actual homophobic DICKS….), as well as his coping issues with it all; Fitch’s struggle with his sexual identity; and various bumps that popped up during their journey to a HEA. If you’re looking for a light read, this isn’t it. But if you want the angst and feels, you’re in the right place.


There are some lighter, fun moments sprinkled throughout, too. Such as:



"So I guess the old saying about a man's heart being through his stomach doesn't apply to gay men?" Lars asked.

"No, honey. The way to a gay man's heart is through Grindr," Z said.



and



It [a t-shirt] was pastel pink cotton with text in rainbow colors and it read: My boyfriend wears heels bigger than your dick.



Varlet also brings the heat in the bedroom. So much heat. DAMN. I can't even pick a snippet to share, it was all so good. Even better, the tension between Ansel and Fitch is delicious, even from the very start. And very much satisfying.


For an emotional, angsty read, Fierce and Fabulous is definitely worth picking up. (As long as you don’t mind GFY undertones.) I enjoyed the peek into the other Sassy Boyz heroes and will be looking forward to each of their books. 

4 STARS! 


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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley.

*Note: The quotes used belong to Elizabeth Varlet; TBQ's Book Palace does not claim them. Any mistakes or typos in the quotes are my own fault.

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Honestly, I'd say this was straddling the line between 4 and 4 1/2 stars. I really loved this book, and while finalizing this review I ended up rereading a lot of passages. Like, most of it. Oops.

Also: Elizabeth on the blog July 6th with a quick interview and a giveaway!



Enjoy!


Until Next Time,


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  *TBQ's Book Palace is a member of both the Amazon and Barnes and Nobles affiliates program. By using the links provided to buy products from either website, I receive a very small percentage of the order. To read my full disclosure on the matter, please see this post!

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