Review: Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler

I received this book for free from BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Under the Lights by Dahlia AdlerUnder the Lights by Dahlia Adler
Series: Daylight Falls #2
Published by Spencer Hill on June 30, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 312
Format: Paperback
Source: BEA
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four-half-stars

Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents' wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show, Daylight Falls...opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he's trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he's in the spotlight—on everyone's terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.

Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents' disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she's painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van's life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she'll have to choose between the one thing she's always loved...and the person she never imagined she could.

Dahlia Adler is a dear friend of mine, and yadda yadda yadda this is my disclaimer in case that affects your opinion of my opinion. I totally wouldn’t lie to you guys, but it’s up to you. So, moving on, I am so freaking excited about this book. I’ve enjoyed all of Dahlia’s books, but Under the Lights is my favorite. It’s been so amazing watching each book get better and better, and I am so incredibly proud of her. Also, I’m in the acknowledgements which is kinda cool. You know, nbd. Under the Lights is hilarious, sassy, and has many scenes with hot girls kissing, so yeah you want this.

Under the Lights is the most Dahlia of all of her books so far, which I mean for the biggest compliment possible. For those who don’t know Dahlia and have somehow missed her Twitter, she is hilarious, smart, sassy, and filthy-minded, and all of that is represented in Under the Lights. It’s those things that really make this novel pop alive for me, and I thought the voices were so strong in Under the Lights, not just the POV characters either. The secondary characters are coming to life for me too, and I was even happy to see Liam and Ally again, which is notable since I often don’t like couple cameos in contemporary companions.

There’s a lot about Under the Lights that really makes it stand out from the other contemporary novels I’ve read. First off, I’m kind of in love with Josh’s perspective. I’m starting here because I think he’s going to get ignored a lot, which I totally get because VAN AND BRI, but also I very much appreciate Josh. To completely appreciate Josh, I think it very much helps to have read Behind the Scenes, in which he plays a pivotal role, and you really get to see the side of him he hides most of the time, even from himself.

In Under the Lights, Josh is playing his role of himself, which means that he’s a grade A douchebag. He’s a horndog who makes sexist comments, calls Van by a racist nickname, and generally makes himself unlikable. Of course, there is more to him, but it takes time to see it, for himself and for the reader. Deep down, he does care, and, in Under the Lights, we get to see a bit about why he’s turned out like this. Josh’s perspective adds to the story for me because 1) it’s really nice to see him growing 2) the friendship ARC between Josh and Van is really great and challenges first impressions and 3) it’s a dual POV where the girl and guy don’t end up together, which is truly novel.

Obviously, though, I was SO HERE for Van. She’s a Korean American TV star acting on a CW show (basically), and she’s questioning her sexuality. HERE FOR THIS. Van has fought for what she has in Hollywood, and unlike Josh and Liam, she knows that this is precisely what she wants to do with her life. She goes along with what her agent suggests, like dating pop star Zander from a boy band. She fights with her parents about going to college and finding a real career. Van is determined to make it, and she’s going to work as hard as possible.

Her feelings for Bri though make her question her career, because she’s not sure if she has both. This is the primary tension between Van and Bri, not Van’s sexuality, which I love. Van’s a bit stunned to discover that she’s into girls, but she’s not like tearing her hair out over it or anything. What she is worried about is whether she’ll have a career is she’s both Asian and gay. Though Van and Bri’s relationship feels a bit instalovey, it also worked for me, because you feel that intense passion that Van is experiencing. Like DAMN do you feel it, so you totally get why she’s so emotional about everything. It goes fast, but also you are totally rooting for them so who cares. Also they get to have sex on the page. It doesn’t fade to black. HELL YES.

Under the Lights is a fabulous and rather unique contemporary. I highly urge you to give this one a try, even if you haven’t read Behind the Scenes. Bear with Josh (you’re not meant to love him at first, don’t worry) and stick around for the hot f/f sex scene later on because it will be worth it.

Favorite Quote:

“What do you want me to say? Anyone who doesn’t want you to be happy with who you are is an asshole. Fuck pleasing everyone else. You only live once. Who are you gonna do it for?”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif two girls cute

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