My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received: Provided by Author/Publisher
Publication Date: January 16, 2017
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Point of View: Third Person (Stan & Ben)
Genres & Themes: Romance, M/M Romance, Anorexia
This is not your average love story.
Ben Easton is not your average romantic hero. He’s a tattooed, badass, wannabe rock star, working in a perfectly horrible dive bar in Camden Town. His life is good, and he’s totally unprepared for how one man will turn it upside down.
Stan isn’t your average heroine. As a gender-fluid man, he proudly wears his blond hair long, his heels sky-high, and his makeup perfectly executed. A fashion industry prodigy, Stan is in London after stints working in Italy and New York City, and he quickly falls for Ben’s devil-may-care attitude and the warm, soft heart Ben hides behind it.
Beneath the perfect, elegant exterior, Stan has plenty of scars from teenage battles with anorexia. And it only takes the slightest slip for his demons to rush back in while Ben is away touring with his band. With the band on the brink of a breakthrough, Ben is forced to find a way to balance the opportunity of a lifetime with caring for his beautiful boyfriend.
I’m completely in love with this story.
I want to shout it from the rooftops, and have virtual books thrown at everyone (like their laps), so they can read it and just fall in love.
Stan and Ben captured my heart from the get-go. This is perhaps the closest book to how I picture a romance book close to perfection is—yeah. That’s how much I love it. I’m almost at the point that I don’t know how to say everything I want to say, because there is a lot that I want to say, but I’m sure I’ll forget stuff.
I’ll start at the beginning then.
Stan has just moved from Italy. New place, new job, new…lover? On his first night he spots the cute bartender and with a shot of courage (okay there was no shot) he leaves his number for Ben (the cute bartender) hoping, but sure it’s fruitless, that he’ll call. Except he does, and in comes a series of dates that I just fangirled over.
The fact is that they were just dates, but rarely do we get characters actually dating. Going out (not just saying they’ll go out and then fucking like bunnies, and just ordering in), talking (they seriously talked about dreams, and childhood, and likes and important and not so important stuff), meeting friends, being cuddly and fluffy (we all know I love me some fluff). Stan was hesitant to have sex, and Ben and Stan slowly eased into it when Stan was ready—and Ben. There was no rush for it, when Stan stated it wasn’t important, at the moment.
This book isn’t all about romance, or centered around it, even if it’s a huge force. That’s where my hesitance came from. The fact that this was about an androgynous person, dealing with anorexia and it wasn’t an #ownvoices.
#ownvoices is support important, more when it deals with issues rooted with voices that only own voices can speak about. I was actually scared at some points that there was going to be damaging sentences, and damaging erasure. Instead, Anna Martin recognized that it might not be her place, but I felt that she acknowledge her short comings. She gave it the care it deserved, with a thoroughly research knowledge. I don’t know if the anorexia is #ownvoices, nor do I want her to out herself if it is. But I love that gender-fluidity was written about. That although there were passages that sounded iffy, Stan rectified and explain that his situation was different, that he wasn’t trans because he loved being a guy, but he also loved being a girl.
Stan is my flower child. I just want to protect him, and love him. I love that he was unapologetic, and so strong. As for Ben, he was sunshine. This two got each other, and that’s the most beautiful thing to have read. My notes included: “this it the most tenderest of dating”, and “pure” and “thankfully Ben has Tone.”
Which brings me to the heart of this story: This is a novel about flawed men who get help from each other and friends. By no means are Stan and Ben perfect. Stan has a mental illness, and re relapses, he acknowledges that it’s a continuous thing. Not something that he’ll be li,e “okay, well that’s done.” Because that would be damaging. Then we have Ben, who thought he needed to save Stan. Which Tone basically slapped him up the head for that little comment. Tone, a friend, tells him it isn’t about that but about being there with him, for him. Just. Being there. and I just about broke with how everything was written.
“Do you hear yourself?”
“What do you mean?”
“Stan is good, Ben. He’s good. He needs help, he needs support, but he is a strong guy. The hardest thing for you to do now is not to be there for him, but to let him be strong for himself.”
The Impossible Boy is a beautiful thing. With beautiful characters, who fall in love creating the most beautiful thing. And then IT happens, and that’s dealt with a firm hand, with a hand that say’s it isn’t about being someone’s savior, or treating them with delicate hands, it’s about just being there on the day to day. It’s about loving that person, and recognizing that mental illness is a continuous thing.
This book is by no means flawless, it is flawed and there are sentences where even though Stan explained his genderfluidness, could have been worded better. I’ll insert them with a bit of a TW, just so a potential reader will judge for themselves.
Ben said, “I think I’m falling in love, Stan.”
“I think I am too.”
“I’m still a boy,” Stan said, tugging at the thick mop of disheveled hair until Ben looked up at him. “I came to terms with that because it’s something I can’t change. But I like my cock. and I like it when you touch it.”
(I’ll say that comment’s like ‘something I can’t change’ were always addressed. Ben replies that he can change if he wanted to, but Stan replies that he’s okay with who he is, just like that. Gender fluid and all.)
“But I’ve kind of learned to accept what I’ve got.”
(This is the one i’m super iffy on, because I don’t agree with the phrasing. It’s like telling a trans person to just accept what they’ve got. but Ben goes on to say that he doesn’t want to be a girl. although he does like being and being called a girl. again, he accepts and acknowledges genderfluid. )
“Gay men don’t lie me because I look like a girl. Straight men don’t like me because I’m physically male.”
“Ben is an exceptional human being.”
Honestly Tone captured my heart, too. He can be callous, but he asks question. And Stan doesn’t let shit fly, so Tone is dealt with when he gets out of line.
“There was something about the way Ben pressed his face to Stan’s hair, breathing deep, then laughing softly. It had become a warm, familiar gesture, something that encapsulated their relationship in one sweet moment.”
“Ben kissed him again, because he could, and for all the other reasons he was currently unable to name.”
“I’m so ridiculously in love with you.” Stan turned and gave him one of his most devastating smiles.
You guys don’t know how much I love hearing/reading I’m so in love with you over I love yous