*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. A big thank you to Raincoast Books for giving me an opportunity to read Be Dazzled early!
I’m someone who has always admired cosplayers, but lacks any creativity needed to make any cosplay of my own. Fun fact: I’ve actually broken/blown up two sewing machines (mom still hasn’t found out about the second one) while trying to fix Thor’s little backpack (still broken), so you can get an idea of how non-talented of a creator I am. Many of my old high school friends are the opposite and create such gorgeous and unique costumes that always left me in awe. The synopsis for Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala (who you all need to follow on Twitter) immediately brought me back to the good old pre-COVID days, with long makeup trial sessions, con drama and cosplay mishaps. Ah, I miss them!
Be Dazzled follows Raphael (aka Raffy), a talented cosplayer who has to hide his passion for cosplay from his elitist and judgemental mother. Following his break up with Luca, a bi soccer player who has to hide his sexuality and love of anime from his parents, Raffy uses his anger and grief as fuel for winning a major cosplay competition in Boston. His comeback goes sideways when he is forced to partner with Luca for one of the challenges. The book jumps between present time, with Raffy competing in the competition with his friend May, and events beginning thirteen months previously, where Raffy first meets Luca.
Be Dazzled is the exact opposite of the books I usually read (which are typically dark and murdery), but was 100% what I needed right now. It was an absolute delight to read and the romance is so cute and perfectly imperfect. The two boys come from seemingly opposite worlds, but face similar struggles with wanting to be who they are while also seeking approval from their parents. One is a workaholic who wants everything to be perfect and on schedule, while the other just goes with it and is a bit of a slacker. Yet both work so hard to try and make things work. My only problem with the story is the portrayal of three female characters, who start off as antagonists, but suddenly switch sides in the last few chapters. I wish a little more was done to provide more background or growth for them.
If you’re looking for a fun, fluffy romance, go buy this book! Be Dazzled comes out on January 5, 2021. There is a pretty awesome pre-order incentive going on right now that I think is SO awesome. You can pre-order Be Dazzled from your local bookstore or online retailer.