Love Spell by Mia Kerick #YoungDelight #AfternoonDelight

Love Spell by Mia Kerick #YoungDelight #AfternoonDelightLove Spell by Mia Kerick

Genres: YA M/M Contemporary Romance
Published by Small Publisher on June 1, 2015
Pages: 141
Format: eBook
Source: Book Tour Provided
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four-half-stars      two-flames

Strutting his stuff on the catwalk in black patent leather pumps and a snug orange tuxedo as this year’s Miss (ter) Harvest Moon feels so very right to Chance César, and yet he knows it should feel so very wrong.

As far back as he can remember, Chance has been “caught between genders.” (It’s quite a touchy subject; so don’t ask him about it.) However, he does not question his sexual orientation. Chance has no doubt about his gayness—he is very much out of the closet at his rural New Hampshire high school, where the other students avoid the kid they refer to as “girl-boy.”

But at the local Harvest Moon Festival, when Chance, the Pumpkin Pageant Queen, meets Jasper Donahue, the Pumpkin Carving King, sparks fly. So Chance sets out, with the help of his BFF, Emily, to make “Jazz” Donahue his man.

An article in an online women’s magazine, Ten Scientifically Proven Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love with You (and a bonus love spell thrown in for good measure), becomes the basis of their strategy to capture Jazz’s heart.

Quirky, comical, definitely flamboyant, and with an inner core of poignancy, Love Spell celebrates the diversity of a gender-fluid teen.

I saw the blurb on this one and was pulled in by wanting to see what happens in this curious story about a teen who is still figuring stuff out.  I’ve never read a story about a gender fluid person, but I have known one.  And this person was a teen at the time and they struggled, painfully.   While this story makes it clear that such a life is hard and confusing, it is also told with a lighter touch full of hope.  I was really cheering on Chance to find the way to contentment and some happy.

The story opens with Chance Cesare, a flaming gay teen, in tight pumpkin colored tuxedo and spiky matching hair strutting down the Miss Harvest Moon Festival runway.  He is not ashamed of his feminine side and will show all those who voted him in for a joke that he is a true, gracious, poised winner.  His small town in New Hampshire may not know what to think of Chance, his parents are indifferent to him, and he is the joke of his high school and butt of the bully’s jokes, but he holds his head high, smiles, laughs, and shows the world what inner strength really is.

Now if he has an aversion to any discussion or thoughts about gender particularly with his outspoken best friend or anyone else?  Nobody’s perfect.  Chance has never fit into any box or label.  He wishes it were that simple.  Who wants to go through life not having everything fixed and settled about themselves?  He wished he knew.  He?  She? He wouldn’t care either way, but Chance is somewhere in the middle and he ties this confusion in with confusion about everything in his future.

But then he encounters Jasper.  Jasper’s easygoing, accepting nature stymies Chance.  Is Jazz just friendly or his he gay, is Chance his brand of gay if he is?  Chance decides to make Jasper his project and goes on line finding ten steps to making a guy fall in love with you.  Chance is confident that with his charisma, taste, style, and skills, Jazz is a shoe-in.  Except those last steps of ‘being yourself’ and ‘being a friend’ are merely optional, right?  Much better to cast a lovespell than those lame steps.

So, this was told in a light, sassy style with Chance as the narrator.  His internal monologues and his dialogues are pure teen talk just as his reasoning and everything else about him.  I thought the author did a good job of writing her characters and their world.  This book is all Chance and rises or falls on how well the reader can connect with him.  I adored him and was rooting for him from page one.

Chance is a brilliant, warm, and sweet person though he can serve up sarcasm and smart-butt pretty thick as his defense mechanism.  It is amazing how he has turned out considering his parents have always been indifferent.  He lives with them, they provide for him, but there is no nurturing.  So sad.  Others do feel strongly about him and he’s bullied or treated like a pariah though there are a few that tentatively try or at least stay neutral.  Chance has one loyal, good friend who is also bullied for her geekiness and her weight.  Neither seems to care what others think as long as they are in the same corner.  I liked seeing them care and confront each other when necessary.

The dynamics change right at the beginning of the story.  Chance is one confused guy and I’m not just referring to his need to figure stuff out with his gender.  He sees Jasper and crushes on him, but struggles to approach Jasper.  Chance can think circles around most people and finds it easy to interact until he encounters someone he really cares about what Jasper thinks.  He is scared that Jasper won’t like Chance stripped of the persona he wears in public so he finds anything a better way than just being real and himself when it comes to Jasper.  It is humorous, heartwarming, and a little bittersweet as the story progressed through his efforts.

Jasper is an interesting character and pretty much Chance’s polar opposite.  He’s a bit of a mystery to Chance.  Even if somethings are not known until later, the reader understands what Chance cannot.  The clues are there to understanding Jasper so it is a matter of hoping Chance will pay attention before it’s too late.  Jasper is a stalwart and responsible person if not as sharp or scholarly as Chance.  He’s upfront, self-aware, and with a simple outlook on the world.   He doesn’t know what to make of all Chance’s machinations and I cringed each time Chance inadvertently hurt him through his trial and error method of trying to attract Jasper.  Jasper is salt of the earth and I fell in love with him right alongside Chance.  I wish every Chance in the world could find their Jazzy Jasper.

If I had a niggle, it was the end.  I wasn’t quite done with Chance and Jasper.  This story ends more on a Happy For Now note and I enjoyed the characters so much that I wanted it tied up complete with a bow.  I wanted to know at least a strong hint.  But then again, it wasn’t a bad place to end things, either and I can use my imagination.

So, this was a delightful coming of age story that stays on the lighter side, but still confronts some serious issues.  It is a sweet, slow-developing YA romance that I can easily recommend.

My thanks to Lola’s Blog Tours for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Challenges Met:

Romance Roundabout #28 YA
Literary Pickers #28 pumpkin
New to Me #15 author
Mt. TBR #16
Blogger Shame #2
Diversity #5

Excerpt:

Not to say that I kept my phone basically right beneath my chin for the next four days, but I kept my phone basically right beneath my chin for the next four days. Yes, I was oh-so-pathetically waiting for his call, which I am aware fully explains the need for the phrase “get a life.” But Jazz hadn’t been at school on the Thursday or Friday after he had called and cancelled our playdate, and now it’s Sunday night, and I still haven’t heard from him. And although I’m frustrated that all of my elaborate plans to make him fall head over heels in love with moi have apparently tanked, I’m also growing genuinely concerned.

That’s when my cell phone, which I placed on my chest before I lay down on my now “love-spell-pink” wrapped mattress, starts singing Express Yourself.

“Yo.” I don’t check the number. It’s Emmy—who else would it be?

“Hi, Chance.” The deep voice is so not Emmy’s.

Yaaassss!!! This is what ninety-nine percent of my insides shout. One percent says quietly, “It’s about frigging time you called, asshole.”

But my voice is calm. “Jasper,” I say blandly. In my opinion, he hasn’t earned the right to be called Jazz any longer.

“Um, sorry, no. It’s Jazz.”

I try not to roll my eyes even though I know he won’t see, but it’s an epic fail. “Whatever.”

“I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch for a couple days. My mom’s been real sick. I was lookin’ after her, gettin’ her to the doctor, goin’ to the pharmacy, bringing JoJo back and forth to school, and stuff.”

Oh.

“Mom caught JoJo’s strep throat and had to go to the ER because she couldn’t even swallow.” He stops talking for a second and then clears his voice. “Alls she could do was spit into a rag whenever she needed to swallow.”

Well, that’s definitely TMI, but I get the fucker-nelly revolting picture. “I’m sorry.”

“Not your fault, dude.”

And then there’s silence.

“Gonna take JoJo to the library after school tomorrow. But first I gotta stop by the cable company and pay up or we’re gonna lose our TV and internet at home. They already warned us like twice.”

“Want me to pick up Yolo at school and take her to the library?” I’m so freaking pissed off at him. Why am I offering to save his ass again?

“That’s cool of you to offer, but there’s a bus she can take to the library from her school. Could ya be waiting for her at the library, in case I get held up?”

“Of course.” I’m a Class A sucker.

“You’re such a cool pal.” Ugh—so not what I’m going for.

“Thanks.”

“I’m not gonna be at lunch tomorrow seein’ as I’ll probably be collecting my makeup work. So, I’ll see ya at the library. ‘Kay?”

I don’t say kkkk cuz it’s not even slightly cool. “Sure. The libes after school, it is.”

“Thank you, bro,” Jazz offers.

One more silence, and then I say, “Later.”

I have research to do.

 

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About Mia Kerick

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty-two years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships, and she believes that physical intimacy has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press, CoolDudes Publishing, and CreateSpace for providing her with alternate places to stash her stories.

Mia is a social liberal and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights, especially marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • I like the sound of how this book handles such a difficult and hard topic with a lighter touch and hope. Chance sounds like a likeable character who act realisticaly for a teen. It’s sad his parents never really cared about him and it’s a wonder he still turned out so well considering that. It must be hard to grow up like that. Jasper sounds like an interesting character and I hope things worked out between them even though Chance accidently hurts Jasper a few times. I know what you mean with wanting an ending that all ties it up compeltely with a bow, sometimes you care so much about those characetrs you just want the best for them and know it will be alright and want them to have their happy ending.

    Looks like it counted for a lot of challenges too! Great review and thanks for reviewing this one, I just sent the link to the author as well and will promote it from my Lola’s Blog Tours accounts too.

    • This was a very special story. I was glad to read it. I have my eye on another one of her books now after checking out her back list.

      Yeah, Chance had some tough stuff in his life, but he handled it pretty well considering. 🙂

      Oh yes! I ticked off several challenges with this story. haha!

  • Ha that cover

  • Interesting story line but the characters do seem likable. Thanks for the review

    • It was different, but I appreciate that and how the author handled different.

  • This looks like a cute read. Glad you enjoyed it!

    • It was definitely cute. Chance’s efforts and his thinking were so teenager, but I liked him for it.

  • I can handle an open ending..this sounds heart warming and that cover is such fun!

    • That cover could be Chance. Someone did a good job.

      And yes, it was truly heartwarming. My maternal instincts were there for this poor guy trying to figure out life and figure out how to win over his crush. It definitely leaves things with Chance looking toward the big wide world after high school and wide open to possibility.