REVIEW: See the Light by Kate McMurray
Kate McMurray brings friends-to-lovers to the Great White Way
Up-and-coming Broadway actor Jeremy was given two days to get up and get out. Dumped by his long-term boyfriend and suddenly homeless, he needs a sofa and a sympathetic ear, stat.
Enter Max, aspiring makeup artist and Jeremy’s BFF and former roommate.
Max has been in love with his best friend forever. Now that Jeremy is back in his home, his old feelings are back, too. He’s happy to help his friend, but this time…it’s complicated.
When Jeremy gets his big break in a new show, the message of the play hits home. “Live life to the fullest” means recognizing how he really feels about Max, and that’s not complicated at all. Jeremy’s in love, and wants to move full steam ahead.
But Max has waited too long for Jeremy to look at him this way, and he doesn’t want to risk his heart. If this is just a rebound fling, or if Jeremy is only interested in Max because he’s convenient, it will not only shatter him—it will ruin the best friendship he’s ever known.
This book is approximately 72,000 words
One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise! (less)
Dear Kate McMurray,
I should probably stop hoping one of your books will be a perfect 10 for me, because they have always been “close, but no cigar” for one reason or another. This book had been no exception but, because your stories are always well written, I keep trying and hoping.
As the blurb tells the reader, Jeremy is an actor who tries to make it on Broadway. He gets some off-Broadway roles, but has not made to the big time yet. He feels he’s always runner-up in his both personal and professional lives.
“Jeremy had gone through this process every season for the last six years. He’d done plenty of Off-Broadway theater, he’d gotten some big parts in touring casts, and he’d managed to crack the Broadway world by scoring some bit parts in the ensemble. But he’d never been a principal in a Broadway cast, and it was what he’d dreamed of since the moment he’d applied to drama school when he’d been seventeen himself.”
“For once in his life, he wanted to be the best. Just once, he wanted to be the best actor at an audition, the best singer, hell, even the best looking. He wanted to be someone’s first choice. Had he even been Ryan’s? When they’d first started dating, Ryan had been seeing someone else, too. For three years, Jeremy had thought Ryan had dumped that guy and chosen Jeremy, but during one of their last fights, Ryan turned the table—he’d chosen Jeremy because the other guy had dumped him. So there Jeremy was, second fiddle, same as always.”
At the beginning of the story, we have Jeremy coming to his best friend Max’s apartment because Jeremy’s ex Ryan cheated on him and, to add insult to an injury, kicked him out. Jeremy and Max are extremely close friends and Max had always been there for him.
Max has been crushing on Jeremy ever since they were teenagers and never told Jeremy. Why? I am not sure. What irritated me most about this book? It was Max… not his character, but his behavior. Max is a supportive friend and a great makeup artist who managed to turn his studio into a profitable, successful business that benefited both him and his employees. I think the problem for me was that Max was stuck in a romance trope and couldn’t completely get out of it, no matter how hard author tried to rescue him and keep the trope “from friends to lovers”.
In this book we have two smart, kind, ambitious guys who want to pursue their dreams and who do just that. Both are eventually successful. Max has already achieved that goal when the book starts and Jeremy makes it by the end of the book. Surely, I am not revealing any spoilers by acknowledging he does make it on Broadway? :)
So we have these two adults at the top of their game, guys who genuinely care for each other. Max has been in love with Jeremy for years and Jeremy occasionally thinks about Max as love interest, but something always happened to made him think that Max wouldn’t want him, or Jeremy was with somebody else, or he did not want to lose Max’s friendship. Jeremy, however, was not as fixated on Max as his love interest. Max’s persistence that *he does not want to lose Jeremy’s friendship* went way beyond irritating for me. I think as much as I am a bit tired of hearing this in a romance wrapped around “from friends to lovers”, the main problem is I didn’t buy it because I did NOT see that Jeremy’s friendship was more important for Max than his love.
Max successfully avoided talking to Jeremy about it for years, but that off page. We, of course, see Max supporting Jeremy in the book but, since the book is written in the third person dual POV, we also see we see just how much Max loves Jeremy and wants him.
“This was why Max had gotten his own place. He’d forgotten the acute pain of living with someone he loved more than anyone else in the world and not having that love returned. He’d almost said no when Jeremy had called him, but he couldn’t leave Jeremy homeless.”
“Would he move that way in bed? Jeremy’s hair was the color of raw honey, his eyes were light, like sapphires, and Max knew a long litany of facts about him: he had a scar on his knee from a time he’d taken a big fall during a play rehearsal in tenth grade; he had a birthmark on his lower back, just above his swimsuit waistband, and he might not even know it was there, but Max did; and though he wore socks, but Max knew his toenails were currently painted iridescent blue, because Max himself had painted them one night when they’d both been a little bored.”
I wanted to shake Max more than once. Jeremy had his fair share of not seeing what was under his nose but, once he did, I admired his honesty and willingness to fight for them. I only wish Max would have come around faster, *much* faster, because I did not find his reactions believable in the slightest. What did I mean when I said that the author tried to rescue Max from the restraints of the trope? She tried to give psychological explanations about Max’s behavior, but I just was not persuaded, or maybe closer to the end of the book he just irritated me too much.
I loved all the theater stuff in the book. Loved it. Jeremy gets his potential dream role as a lead on Broadway and we get to see the auditions and the rehearsals. We get to witness his genuine love and enthusiasm for the theater. I really enjoyed all those details. Max as makeup artist also gets involved with theater production, which was all was such fun for me to read about. I also love to read stories set in Brooklyn and Manhattan – places I adore and recognize – the book delivered in that area too.
All of this, though, just brings the grade to C+ for me.