Thursday, November 8, 2018

Review: Until the Last Star Fades by Jacquelyn Middleton

Until the Last Star Fades by Jacquelyn Middleton Published: November 8th, 2018 Publisher: Kirkwall Books Genre: Women’s fiction/contemporary romance Acquired this book: From the author in exchange for honest consideration Rating: 5 stars Warning: This review may contain spoilers Goodreads || Buy now: Amazon US || Amazon Canada || Chapters

COULD YOU BE THE ONE WHO CHANGES EVERYTHING? In her senior year at NYU, Riley Hope appears to be on top of the world. With a loving mother who makes Lorelai Gilmore look like a parenting slacker, ride-or-die friends, and a long-time boyfriend destined for the National Hockey League, she puts on a smile for the world. But behind it, she’s drowning. Racked with fears for the future, she battles to stay afloat amid life in the shadows of a heartbreaking illness. And then, Ben Fagan comes crashing into her life. Twenty-three years old, British, and alone in the Big Apple after a disastrous pilot season in LA, the struggling actor is looking for an escape: booze, mischief, sex—minimum commitment, maximum fun—anything to avoid returning across the pond. As they form an unlikely bond, Riley keeps her reality from Ben so that he remains a happy refuge. But how long can she hold back the truth…and is Ben keeping his own secrets, too?

After reading and loving Jacquelyn Middleton’s first two books, London Belongs to Me and London, Can You Wait? her newest offering became one of my most anticipated books of 2018. Until the Last Star Fades is a beautiful story about love, loss, hope, friendship, and pursuing your passions. As with the London books, this one was full of fun pop-culture (and awesome '80s!) references, wonderful details about the setting (New York City in this case), and mentions of food that make me drool - Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Smile fries, and Fun Dip, anyone? I find myself taking my time while reading Jacquelyn’s books because there are so many layers of complex emotion. I feel like I need time to process it all and let it sink in. I found Alex in the London books incredibly relatable, and Riley in Until the Last Star Fades was equally relatable in some similar and also new ways. I was deeply touched by the mother-daughter relationship between Riley and her mom, Maggie. In many ways, it reminded me of my relationship with my own mum, who’s my best friend. It’s so rare to read about healthy mother-daughter relationships, and it was nice to see a character who would do anything for her mother because that’s how I am with my own mum. Another relatable aspect was Riley’s depression; I saw myself in her immediately - in her need to put a smile on and make people think everything was fine, and to power through no matter how difficult things got. Middleton knows how to do angst. She doesn’t shy away from putting her characters in uncomfortable, painful, awkward, and sometimes even hellish situations and letting them flounder for a bit before finding their feet. There are no easy solutions here between the secrets and lies and a healthy dose of drama, all of which is done in a realistic way, especially considering the characters’ ages. You truly get to know the characters and feel for them and root for them. Can I also just say I really appreciate the realistic portrayal of Riley’s finances? As someone who has spent her life scrimping, saving, and going without, that was just one more thing I found relatable. Riley was basically living the poor student life in a tiny place where she had to decide between eating and other necessities. We don’t see enough of this, especially in books with characters in this age range. Now...let’s talk romance. If I had to categorize this book, I’d call it women’s fiction with elements of romance. The romance isn’t the main focus of the story. I’m a total romance junkie - give me all the romance - but I have a special fondness for books like this when they’re done well, which Until the Last Star Fades was. I love books that explore relationships other than romantic and sexual ones, and I appreciated that Riley had a well-rounded life - friendships, school, her passions - and that her personality really shone through on every page. And I loved Ben. He was adorable and sweet and hard-working and selfless. He saw a kindred spirit in Riley and wanted to make her happy, keep her safe, and also encourage her to pursue her dreams. I loved Riley and Ben’s interactions, and watching them go from friends to something more made me smile, laugh out loud, and swoon. Jacquelyn Middleton has now given me two book boyfriends to love! Until the Last Star Fades is a love story in its truest form. It’s heartfelt and bittersweet and hopeful. It will take you an emotional journey you won’t soon forget. With her knack for complex characters and vibrant settings, I can’t wait to see what journey - both emotional and physical - Jacquelyn Middleton will take her readers on next.

Do you plan to read Until the Last Star Fades? What was your last 5-star read? Do you have a favourite book with a mother-daughter relationship?

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