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My Fake Vegas Boyfriend (Viva Las Vegas Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Layla’s home life was filled with verbal abuse and self-inflicted destruction. Layla may not have always made the best choices but she has struggled to overcome her destructive coping mechanisms. She didn’t want to force Jace into a pretend relationship but if she hadn’t, her parents would have ruined her life for good. I sincerely appreciated that Layla’s character was a hurting character but that she was also extremely strong and fierce. She might not have felt herself worthy but she refused to be made to feel less than. She fought with everything she had to only accept what she considered the best for herself. I hated to see her struggle but it was very emotionally satisfying to be a part of her wins.
Writing a story with characters who have any level of dysfunction is very difficult. There is a fine line between a hurting character and a crazy character and Layla is a perfect example of how to do it right! Her character comes across as a little “crazy” and her behaviors cycle between functional and dysfunctional but before everything gets to the point where you feel that the story has gone off the rails, she opens up with such sheer honesty that you can clearly see that she is a hurting individual and you develop a deeper sense of empathy and connection with her. I absolutely loved that about this story. There were parts where I was on the cusp of feeling that I had boarded the crazy train but then the story would go in a different direction and I just felt myself falling a little more in love with the characters.
Jace was another fabulous character because he was honest with Layla all the time. He exuded empathy and compassion towards her character and did not have to work at it, it was just who he was. When Layla became a bit much or lashed out at him verbally he would get upset but then he would consider what happened and he would see beyond the behaviors to what was happening under the surface of Layla and that is what he would respond to. In love with him!! He had his own issues that he had to come to terms with and he may have needed a little help but when he finally figured out what he wanted….swoon! My Fake Vegas Boyfriend is a powerful romance that does not follow all the formulas for a happily ever after but when it gets there, it is everything you wanted it to be. I highly recommend this book!
This review is based on a complimentary book I received from Author, Lori Sizemore. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.
Layla is a promising photographer but doesn't recognize that fact so she doesn't work in that field, or any other. She lives a bare and largely isolated existence in a tiny pool house on her parents' property. During her teen years she was institutionalized twice because of self-destructive behavior which today's readers will immediately recognize and understand. She was engaged to be married but the relationship failed. We soon realize that Layla has parents from hell who are trying to convince her she's crazy and put her back in an institution to serve their own selfish purpose. Her life is empty and going nowhere.
To say that Layla has self-esteem issues would be a gross understatement.
Jace Russell is head of security for a Las Vegas casino. The son of the owner of the largest candy company in the US, Jace has chosen to carve his own path rather than take the easier road and work for his father's business. He is the proverbial tall, dark and handsome guy who is also an intelligent and decent man. A great catch, right? Not so fast, though. Jace avoids forming serious relationships with women like the plague because of the circumstances of his parents' marriage which had a severely negative effect on him. His life is not as empty as Layla's but he is just treading water and his life is also going nowhere.
To say that Jace has commitment issues would be a gross understatement.
Layla and Jace meet under uniquely unusual circumstances. She's aware of her parents' machinations (although not the real reason behind them) and has already decided that if she can bring a "normal" serious boyfriend home it will prove to her parents that she is a stable "good girl" who is not crazy, so she picks Jace to be her "fake boyfriend". Jace goes along with the ruse because he's attracted to Layla but also because of a bit of blackmail on her part. The novel follows the tried and true formula of boy meets girl, boy and girl are attracted to each other but have emotional baggage, problems and misunderstandings ensue, etc., etc. But as their story plays out we realize that there is nothing trite about Jace and Layla, and nothing happens that has been done to death in countless other romance novels. Ms. Sizemore also does a wonderful job of using "props" that firmly anchor the story in the late 1950s.
The author makes Layla and Jace real people of substance and I liked them both from the beginning. Layla's parents are a bit too much like mustache-twirling villains but that's not as important as the meat of the story. There are some issues that are universal and never change, like the need to separate from parents, developing feelings of self-worth, learning to trust, gaining the courage to take a risk by giving one's heart to another, accepting others' differences, making compromises, seeing the truth of things without blinders - all that "grown up" stuff. There are well-paced twists, turns and revelations along the way which complete the picture of who Layla and Jace really are, how they got that way, and how they eventually determine to change their lives - with each other's help and understanding.
I thoroughly enjoyed this well-written novel. It's light reading but has meaningful and realistic dialog, thoughts and actions. So, do Layla and Jace get their HEA? You'll have to read it to find out, but what else would you expect from a good romance novel? Don't miss this one!
I received an ARC of this novel and am happy to be able to give it an honestly positive review.