Book Review: Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala

Be Dazzled  by Ryan La Sala Genre:  Queer YA Rom-Com Synopsis:   Raffy has a passion for bedazzling. Not just bedazzling, but sewing, ...

Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala

Genre: Queer YA Rom-Com

Raffy has a passion for bedazzling. Not just bedazzling, but sewing, stitching, draping, pattern making―for creation. He's always chosen his art over everything―and everyone― else and is determined to make his mark at this year's biggest cosplay competition. If he can wow there, it could lead to sponsorship, then art school, and finally earning real respect for his work. There's only one small problem... Raffy's ex-boyfriend, Luca, is his main competition.

Raffy tried to make it work with Luca. They almost made the perfect team last year after serendipitously meeting in the rhinestone aisle at the local craft store―or at least Raffy thought they did. But Luca's insecurities and Raffy's insistence on crafting perfection caused their relationship to crash and burn. Now, Raffy is after the perfect comeback, one that Luca can't ruin. But when Raffy is forced to partner with Luca on his most ambitious build yet, he'll have to juggle unresolved feelings for the boy who broke his heart, and his own intense self-doubt, to get everything he's ever wanted: choosing his art, his way.

Content/Trigger Warnings: Homophobia, anxiety disorder, substance use

Overall rating:  ★★★★★

What a pleasantly wonderful book. I loved Be Dazzled immensely. I loved Raffy and his penchant for bedazzling. I loved the cosplay elements, and the online arts community Raffy's part of. I deeply enjoy the arts. I've always wanted to be involved in cosplay and it just hasn't been something I've felt ready for, but reading this book allowed me to be a member of the community. I enjoyed getting to really see Raffy's step-by-step planning and design process. The entire book really allowed the reader to be part of the story and to really visualize all the moving parts of the cosplay competition. 

"[...] sometimes the broken bits are just the pieces you need to create something new, something better, something remarkable.."

La Sala did an incredible job writing this book. The split timeline (past vs present) could be incredibly confusing, but it was done wonderfully, and it really helped create solid understanding of the "why" piece of the lovers-to-rivals trope. It helped create this element of not really hating any of the characters, but really understanding their situations and allowing them the benefit of the doubt when it came to their mistakes.

I don't have all the right words to really explain how much I loved Be Dazzled. It's heartwarming and beautiful, charming and heartfelt, and really just everything a rom-com should be. Any of the words I could compile to describe this book could never do it justice. All I can say is "read this book!" You won't regret it.

*I received a copy of this book free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own.

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