Published by Harvey Berrick Publishing on August 22, 2016
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
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Miles Stephens is a young actor from London. Out of work, unemployable, and fired from his last job, he unexpectedly gets the chance to star in a big-time Hollywood movie.
The film is a great success, propelling him to worldwide fame - but when the dream doesn't match the reality, he turns to Clare, lifelong friend and girl next door.
Clare knows two important facts:
When you break chocolate, the calories fall out...
And that she's totally in love with clueless Miles.
It’s always going to be a difficult task to go against the grain of what appears to be a much-loved popular book. I know reading is very much a personal thing, but I feel I need to get my views on paper. I felt I needed a break from the thrillers/police procedurals/fantasy novels that I love so I randomly picked a romance novel from my goodreads TBR. Alas I started reading Dazzled. On first sight it looked like a cute, quick fun read. It was penned as a New Adult novel, and I’m afraid after reading it I felt quite concerned at the message that it was portraying to girls of that age. Author’s that write within this genre I believe, have a duty of care to write with the correct voice that is appropriate to the audience. I concluded that certain characters were alarmingly problematic.
This was the story of Clare and Miles. Clare as described by the author was the fat/chubby, larger than life, boring, innately average and inconsequential girl that was an English Literature student. Her life was written so that it highlighted just what an average life she led in comparison to Miles. Her inner monologue was worrying, in regard to how she viewed herself, her life and in general herself worth. She struggled to find a partner because she was so hung up on her best friend that didn’t view her as anything other than his friend. I don’t know, maybe use some of the brain cells that the author says she has and lay the guy some hints, at the end of the day no-one is a mind reader. It’s the 21st century and girls can take the lead on such things you know! If Miles was the guy that you have wanted since forever grab the bull by the horns, life’s too short.
Miles. Well on the other hand the author wrote him to stand on a pedestal. He was drop dead gorgeous, his hair was perfect, he had the perfect body, okay he wasn’t that sharp and had dyslexia. I think a little more research on how dyslexia presents itself would have made it more genuine and authentic instead of it sounding like Clare was patronising him constantly. Now he didn’t have much luck with partners either, but he didn’t seem to view Clare as anything other than his best mate, not until the last 20% of the book when VERY suddenly he changed his tune and now he thought she was red hot.
Now Miles is a struggling actor but through good representation manages to bag the role of his life. He heads out to LA and he begins to live the Hollywood life. But wait, it’s not what he expected it to be…the actors/actresses are fickle, image is everything and all they seem to care about is the dollars. Yep, don’t expect to ever walk out your door again without being harassed. He asks Clare to join him out there and she witnesses first hand just how fickle everything is. She tries to support him the best she can, but she struggles to accept how Hollywood wants to change everything that is about him. She loves him as he is. The vanity begins, and he has to change his diet, has to start a rigorous gym routine and has to think very carefully about what he is going to say before he says it. He changes into the “stunningly perfect gorgeous man” that is too perfect for mere mortals…ffs no human is above another, and this inner monologue is just breeding further hateful thoughts that make individuals of that age focus too much on body image. The skinny and equally perfect actresses come out of the woodwork. Now Clare believes she won’t bag her perfect man, even though she always told herself he wasn’t good enough for her.
The only thing I really feel redeemed Clare for me as a character was the fact she had a relatable body of the average woman. She was a healthy size, not fat, not chubby. She enjoyed junk food and didn’t give a fuck about what anyone else thought about her body.
I think authors need to give more thought to how they write their characters but still deliver justice to how they imagine them to be. Unfortunately, we now live in a world where social media is king, and it has a lasting impact on our youth. We live in a world where Instagram highlights our flaws but what they don’t realise is that no-one’s life is Instagram perfect. I just think the comparisons between the two characters were uneven and would love to see more strong characters not ones that constantly thought they were too average, and too insignificant.