Boy Banned by RJ ScottWhen the only way to win is to hide who you are, how far are you prepared to go?
Reuben “Angel” Jacobs is one step away from giving it all up. Losing a place in the live finals of Sing UK almost kills him. He has no choice but to go home and work for the family business, even though it means giving up his dreams and proving his old bullies right.
Corey Dixon is a rocker at heart. Being on the spectrum means that making sense of other people’s ‘normal’ is hard in itself, let alone in the chaos of a high-powered competition. Singing is his safe space, the only way he can think through the noise in his head. Messing up his audition for the live shows means his journey is over, and it’s the worst day of his life.
The judges throw them a lifeline and create a boy band from the near-miss hopefuls. Angel, Corey, and three others are put together in a room and offered the chance to sing as a group. Agreeing to become part of the new band means Corey has to hide who he is and what Angel has come to mean to him.
Is winning worth the price Corey and Angel have to pay?
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Review: 5 stars
I don't often review but when I do it's usually because I've been thinking about the book, and this is one of them. I'm not going to recap on the plotline, because you can read that from other reviews. This is more about the writing itself. So first, the disclaimer.
Disclaimer: I work for RJ, but she doesn't expect a review from me. She also gets my honest opinion to her face!
Back to the review. My honest opinion is the book I think RJ should be writing more often. I've read three books of RJ's in quick succession. This one and The Rancher's Son are bloody brilliant. I liked the third one too, but it was a good read, not a great read. Boy Banned and The Rancher's Son kept me reading until the early hours of the morning.
We had an MM meeting recently and RJ mentioned something that had occurred to her from writing another genre. As MM authors we have a shorthand that comes from writing gay characters. For instance, if you write fanfiction, you know your audience will know and love the characters. You don't need to fill in the minutiae of their hair/eyes/where they live etc. Although we all write different books in MM, there is still an unconscious shorthand that maybe we don't realise exists until you move into another genre.
Boy Banned is a new release and I feel that it doesn't suffer from this shorthand. From Corey's reaction to the world around him, to the band's emotions as they go through the auditions and how the secondary characters are written, all the detail is there for the reader, and that made a difference to me. The romance was there between the two main characters, but the rest of the band and the competitors were just as vividly written. I was drawn into the world which I avoid like the plague in real life - I never watch reality TV shows. It didn't matter here.
RJ has an autistic son so when she writes about autistic characters you can see she is writing with lived experience. What struck me about Corey is that at no time did I feel sorry for him, he wasn't a tragic character. He is autistic and handles his life accordingly.
It's more than a talent show romance. I invested in these characters. I give Boy Banned a well deserved 5 stars.