Breaking Character – Lee Winter

4.5*

What is it about Lee Winter’s books that makes it so difficult for me to write intelligible reviews?

Summer Hayes is a former child-star making her debut in a not-so-good medical TV series. In addition to providing her with her first potentially big part as an adult, Choosing Hope gives her a chance to act beside her idol, British actress Elizabeth Thornton – Bess to her friends -, who plays the part of the show’s villain.

Summer is absolutely adorable but not annoyingly so and that makes her irresistible, not only to Bess but to anyone who gets to meet her. Bess is more complicated to like but I can’t blame her. She’s a complete introvert who feels the need to protect herself from others. The few times when she’s allowed anyone in, she’s been hurt, be it by her mentor, Grace, or the audience, who loves to hate the character she plays and is not interested in the real person. She has come to hate her job and can’t wait for the time when she’s released from her contract. As a result, for the longest time, she’s oblivious to Summer’s sweetness…

While that might sound like a story you’ve read before, it is not. The characters are so well-written, it all feels brand-new.

The first tears filled my eyes right when I reached the end of the first quarter of the story. Way too early. Not fair, Lee Winter. At some point, I understood Elizabeth’s ache so well that I knew in advance what she was going to say. Not because the author lacks imagination but because she made the situation so real.

Lee Winter is great at writing ice queens but what I loved best about this book is that Bess is not really an ice queen. That’s what others make her out to be because it’s easier and more fun to believe what everyone is saying than to look for the truth. What she really is is an unassuming woman who is not convinced she’s talented enough (she is) to justify her success, such as it is. That’s also what makes Summer the perfect partner for her, because she never for one second forgets how impressive and gifted Bess is, nor how human she also is. If she treats her in a different way than anyone else, it’s not because she’s famous or wealthy, it’s because she loves her. And that’s something you can feel in every interaction between them, in their banter as well as their serious talks.

The problem with books like these, which make me feel so much, is what am I supposed to read next? It feels a bit unfair to the book that follows (and its author), because how could they bear comparison? And if they did, how would my heart survive?

5-stars

Breaking Character @ Ylva Publishing

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