Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala
Sourcebooks Fire; 2021; 336 pages
Content Warnings: Strong language, homophobia, anxiety
About the Author: “Ryan La Sala writes about surreal things happening to queer people. Ryan resides in New York City, but only physically. Flighty to a fault, he spends most of his time in the astral planes and only takes up corporeal form for special occasions, like brunch and to watch anime (which is banned on the astral planes). Ryan is the author behind the riotously imaginative Reverie, and the brilliantly constructed Be Dazzled.” (Bio taken from author’s website.)
Raffy has a passion for crafting…and bedazzling. He spends his days roaming the aisles at the Craft Club and filming his projects for the internet. Despite his mother’s disapproval, he channels this passion into gorgeous cosplays and crafting competitions. But things get complicated when Raffy is forced to partner with his ex-boyfriend, Luca, at a big convention. Last year, they almost made the perfect team, and couple, until Luca’s insecurities and Raffy’s perfectionism drove them apart. Can Raffy resolve his feelings for the boy who broke his heart while battling his own self-doubt and crafting his most challenging project yet? Or will everything fall apart at the seams?
As a huge fan of cute love stories, I was hooked from the very first page! Ryan La Sala crafts a beautiful, queer romance between two protagonists you can’t help but love. Raffy is a passionate artist who channels all his energy into his creations, while Luca is a carefree soccer player with a heart of gold. While Raffy and Luca easily fall for each other at first, they struggle through tough relationships with their families and themselves: Raffy hides his talent from his mother, who is an artist herself, and Luca’s family has a hard time accepting his sexuality and his interest in cosplay. While a difficult journey, I loved seeing Raffy and Luca work to pursue their dreams, and each other, in what can only be described as an adorable, swoony ride with themes of persistence, creativity, and second chances. If anyone is looking for a fun, geeky, feel-good story, Be Dazzled is the novel for you!
(Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for sending us an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change.)
PRR Writer, Tyler Steffen