Review Detail

It's A Steal, by Arden O'Keefe: Release Day Review
Books EW Elaine White July 27, 2020 421
Cutest Meet-Cute!
 POV: 3rd person, dual POV
 Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, Romance, Hacking

 It's A Steal is a super-cute romance between a geek and a rock star. A tad disjointed in places, it blends the romance of a coffee shop meet-cute with the dangerous work of deep-web hacking. O'Keefe's debut comes with great potential and marks them as a budding author to keep your eye on.

 Edric is a coffee-shop owner and the lead singer in a popular local rock band. Dean is a geek whose nose has been so deeply stuck in his books that his world had shattered around him, leaving his future unclear. When they come together, it's the most sugary sweet meet-cute imaginable, especially when Dean doesn't even notice the hunky Ed flirting with him. Bonding over a lost book – with distinct Fifty Shades vibes – they find fate leading them back together. Despite Dean's financial crisis, and Ed's disapproving family, they manage to find an intense chemistry building from day one.

 For a debut novel, it was written really well. I had some issues with some clunky phrasing, a few info dumps that hampered the flow a little. Sometimes the word choices left the language coming across as stilted and uncomfortable, e.g. at one point, Dean's POV contains “one of those dashingly hot bad boys, who could steal one's heart” which is a bit too historical for his age/personality, and sometimes the lack of contractions (converting do not into don't) left it a touch awkward. There were a few events I'd liked to have seen in more detail – Dean and Ed's first walk, as they got to know each other; and the family conversation between Ed and his mother – which would have added an extra understanding to some events. I think they got a bit lost in translation by only being talked about passively and not shown.

 Personally, I wasn't comfortable with Ed's family. Nora mentions Ed is the one making things awful, despite the picture being painted that they've been unsupportive and homophobic. I felt distinctly uncomfortable with Nora's rampage. The use of a guilt trip to force Ed to apologise for something that was never his fault, and Nora saying she'd forgiven him – I'm not sure if it's for coming out, or for being gay – left me wishing Ed would see how toxic they were and hoping he'd run. Fast.

 However, the story had a distinct rom-com, cutesy, meet-cute vibe with a comfortable dose of mystery surrounding Dean's financial situation. Though he was falling madly in love, there was always the recognition that it might not last, if his plans failed and he had to move away.
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