Tuesday, August 13, 2019

ARC Review: A Beautiful Disaster by Marguerite Labbe


When best friends Brenden and Dakota launch the biggest comics and pop-culture convention of their careers, they finally realize what everyone around them already knows: they’ve been in love for years.

Now what are they going to do about it?

Meticulously organized Brenden Wade and easygoing Dakota Nye turned their love of geek culture into a business, running conventions all over the Chesapeake Bay area. Now the weight of their pasts is threatening not only their friendship but their dream. Brenden fears losing his foster family when his secrets come out, and though the last thing Dakota wants is to hurt his plus one, he doesn’t know if he’s capable of settling down.

One night of passion challenges both men’s preconceptions and forces them to evaluate what they want from the future. They’re both scared, and though they’ve always been able to figure out anything together, hearts are on the line. Will taking a chance on romance lead to a beautiful disaster, or just a disaster?

Sandra's review:

This is the third book in the Geek Life series, focusing on Brenden Wade and Dakota Nye, who are business partners/organizers of many a comics/pop-culture convention, and some other things. We met them in the previous books, which reminds me - while this could in theory be read as a standalone book, I don't recommend you do. Read the first two as well, in that order, because the timeline starts with Book 1 and continues into the 2nd and this 3rd one here.

Brenden and Dakota have long been friends, like brothers. Both of them are part of the same family, Dakota's aunt and uncle, who adopted him, and then also took in Brenden when he needed help. Brenden has never actually looked at Dakota as a brother, but he made a promise to his "adoptive" mom to not pursue Dakota, when she noticed how he was looking at him.

They're a bit "opposites attract", with Brenden really organized and always prepared and Dakota more impulsive and laissez-faire, mostly running things by the seat of his pants. Which drives Brenden crazy on occasion; on the other hand, Dakota feels that Brenden needs to lighten up a bit, so he delights in pushing Brenden's buttons. With the biggest con they've ever planned coming up, one can make or break them, Dakota has moved back in with Brenden so they can combine efforts to ensure the con goes off without a hitch.

Their friends have long figured out that the two of them are in love, even if neither Brenden nor Dakota actually want to admit this. Except Dakota might have had enough of beating around the bush, and now that they're living together again, he's going to jump right in and challenge Brenden. And while they might drive each other up the wall, they firmly have each other's back against anyone on the outside.

This book is angstier than the first two. Meticulous, uptight Brenden is afraid that if he gives in to Dakota and takes what he's been wanting, he will lose his family when it inevitably ends, since Dakota does not like to be tied down. He hides his feelings behind long-established maneuvers, but when a little birdie named Felipe drops a bit of a bombshell on Dakota, the latter opens his eyes and for the first time actually sees what Brenden has been hiding.

And thus Operation Seduce Brenden begins. Their long-building UST explodes in brilliant fireworks at one of the cons, where they have to share a hotel room, and nothing will ever be the same.

I liked both characters, even if the two steps forward, one step back dance drove me batty. I could appreciate that Brenden was hesitant to move forward, afraid to disappoint or upset his "adoptive" mother, and scared that after their amazing night of passion he will lose everything he's ever wanted. Dakota also grows in this book - he's intuitive, and he really thinks about whether he should go after Brenden, whether he can stick with one guy and allow himself to be tied down. He realizes that he cannot toy with Brenden's heart so he is careful to show him that he's serious and begins to actively woo him.

Their romance is set against a backdrop of geeky life, with multiple cons they're either organizing or attending, and the author either participates in this life or has done extensive research as to what goes on behind the scenes, as all of those scenes felt realistic and rang true.

There are many emotional moments that brought tears to my eyes, and I really loved that this book wasn't just about their romance but also about their family relationships, and how they navigated the eventual coming-out.

I quite enjoyed this book, and I think you will too. Just do yourself a favor and read all three of them, in the order they were published.

** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

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