Tuesday, May 30, 2023

REVIEW: Once More With Feeling by Elissa Sussman



Man oh man did I enjoy Once More With Feeling--it hit lots of my favorite things: Broadway, musicals, and lots of angsty history between our two main characters: Kathleen (Katee) and Cal. We get to know why they're so antagonistic towards each other through the flashbacks woven throughout their present day narrative. We learn that they were young, touring popstars that had incredible chemistry, which was problematic since Kathleen was dating Cal's bandmate, Ryan. One night blows up all of their relationships and Kathleen's career, explaining why she's so suspicious and angry with Cal when he shows up years later to offer her a shot at Broadway; he walked away from that disaster fairly unscathed and she was the pariah of the popstar community, ruining any chances she had to move from popstar princess to a more mature performer.

Since this is more than a short story, obviously she takes him up his offer and over a series of months their run ins with each other are pretty ugly and show us a side of Kathleen that isn't great. She comes off as snarky and stubborn and sometimes just ridiculous--all things that I actually really appreciated. She's far from perfect and I found her reactions and actions to be really relatable in that many of us would feel and do the same things she did, even when it seemed to be so self-sabotaging. I felt like her pain and hurt and suspicions were accurate and anyone would've felt the way she did--so her acting out seemed right and made her transition into someone a little softer and more open to being vulnerable with Cal that much more rewarding. All of that being said, even though Cal didn't always stoop to her level of shenanigans, he also came off as arrogant and smug which doesn't exactly make him a shining star. Getting to understand him a little more through his dialogue and the flashbacks helped make their getting together make more sense, as well as made him seem less like the dick I originally thought he was. 

This was such a fun novel to read--the slow burn, the intensity of their feelings, the evolution of their characters from young adulthood to adulthood, and the behind the scenes look at a Broadway show coming to life made this an entertaining and very quick read. I'm looking forward to reading more of Elissa Sussman and can't wait to see what she does next. 

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A former pop star finds herself back in the spotlight—along with an old flame from her past—in this friends-to-lovers meets enemies-to-lovers story from the bestselling author of Funny You Should Ask, the sensational TikTok romance!

Then. Katee Rose is living the dream as America’s number one pop star, caught in a whirlwind of sold-out concerts, screaming fans, and constant tabloid coverage. Everyone wants to know everything about her and her boyfriend, Ryan LaNeve, the hottest member of adored boy band CrushZone. Katee loves to perform but hates the impossible demands of stardom. Maybe that’s why she finds herself in the arms of another CrushZone member, Cal Kirby. Quiet, serious Cal, who’s always been a good friend to Katee, is suddenly Cal with the smoldering eyes and very good hands. One unforgettable night is all it takes to blow up Katee’s relationship with Ryan, her career, her whole life. 

Now. Kathleen Rosenberg is okay with her ordinary existence and leaving her pop star image in the past. That is, until Cal Kirby shows up with the opportunity of her dreams—a starring role in the Broadway show he’s directing and a chance to perform, the way she’s always wanted. The two haven’t spoken since the joint destruction of their careers, and each of them blames the other, making their reunion a tense battle of wits and egos. Kathleen reluctantly agrees to the musical, as long as she keeps her guard up around Cal. But rehearsals are long, those eyes still smolder, and those hands are still very good. Despite everything, Kathleen can’t deny the chemistry between them. Is it ever a good idea to reignite old flames? Especially if you’ve been burned in the past?

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