Title: Spark (North Star #1)
Author: Posy Roberts
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary Romance / YA
Length: Novel (282 pages)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn
Review Summary: : A good start to a new series featuring second chances and rekindled love.
North Star: Book One
In their small-town high school, Hugo and Kevin became closeted lovers who kept their secret even from parents. Hugo didn’t want to disappoint his terminally ill father, and Kevin’s controlling father would never tolerate a bisexual son. When college took them in different directions, they promised to reunite, but that didn’t happen for seventeen years.
By the time they meet again, Hugo has become an out-and-proud actor and director who occasionally performs in drag—a secret that has cost him in past relationships. Kevin, still closeted, has followed his father’s path and now, in the shadow of divorce, is striving to be a better father to his own children.
When Hugo and Kevin meet by chance at a party, the spark of attraction reignites, as does their genuine friendship. Rekindling a romance may mean Hugo must compromise the openness he values, but Kevin will need a patient partner as he adapts to living outside the closet. With such different lifestyles, the odds seem stacked against them, and Hugo fears that if his secret comes to light, it may drive Kevin away completely.
North Star Series
Posy Roberts is a new-to-me author, and this is the first book in what will be a trilogy centering on our heroes, Kevin and Hugo, and their family and friends. I am a sucker for reunion stories, as well as second-chance and rekindling of love stories, so I picked this one up in hope of getting a fix. Spark hit those buttons for me, but I also had a few issues with it.
This first installment is overall pretty sweet and gentle despite a few bumps – a thank you to the author for not allowing a potential BM to rear its head, keeping it at an “lm” – and some family and relationship drama and dynamics that were relatively minimal. The themes of truth, secrets, trust, fear, loss, loneliness, reconnection, compromise, friendship and family all fit well together.
Spark is essentially two stories in one: Hugo and Kevin together as teens, then seventeen years later finding each other again. We are shown their initial meeting and part one of their relationship through flashbacks to their younger years, which felt natural for the flow and didn’t feel disruptive to the rest of the story in their placement. But…that being said, one of the problems I had was that I felt there was a lot of telling and not enough showing during these flashbacks. We get long info-dumps with paragraph upon paragraph of prose with no dialog, making it feel drawn out to me. Adding to that, we also get the POV of both characters during their time together as teens, so this was doubly apparent to me. I didn’t lose interest and I liked getting their tale from the beginning, but I was looking for the pace to be stepped up some. This happened for me in the current day, where there was more live action and conversation between the protags and other characters.
While I may not have agreed with some of the decisions Kevin made in his younger years during his time with Hugo, I did understand, and I liked these two men very much – both as teens and as adults – and could imagine myself being friends with them. I felt they did and do belong together, and I hope they have what it takes to weather the challenges I am sure they will face when Kevin comes out and as Hugo works through issues surrounding past relationship failures.
For the secondary characters, I enjoyed the relationship between Hugo and his bestie Summer, and I was very happy that she wasn’t one of those fag hag-y BFFs. In fact, I liked the females in here overall, though there are two more books to go and Kevin isn’t out yet to his soon-to-be-ex-wife at the end here, so we’ll see if she dives into bitch-landia once she finds out (an fyi –there’s no cheating is here, if that is something that bothers you). The kids are not so adorable that I had to go to the dentist after, and they seemed realistic. In fact, I liked all of the side characters so far except for one: I suspect I am supposed to hate Kevin’s father – and I did – but he felt one-dimensional to me and a bit cartoonish in a villain-y way.
I generally liked the writing, which felt solid and mature, though I admit that for me it was just this side of purple in a few spots. Additionally, I found there to be a couple of instances of repetitive telling (Kevin was forced to move upstairs and live on the main level…The privacy and solitude he’d enjoyed in the basement was suddenly stripped from him then in the next para: His room was relocated to the second floor of the house, and every move he made seemed to be scrutinized even more so than before), which seemed to be wasted words, and several items that were coincidentally the same (i.e. high school reunions/friends: Hugo and Kevin are high school friends, Summer and the people she and Hugo see at the 4th of July party are her high school friends, Kevin’s ex is going out with high school friends; both Hugo’s mother and Kevin’s ex are nurses). These kinds of things, while small compared to the length of the story and perhaps nitpicky to some, are highly noticeable to me and as such, drew me out of the story.
The multiple plot points left way open for the next two books seemed right for the storyline, but one thing that took me aback was the abrupt ending. In fact, I got to the end of what is the last chapter and when I turned the electronic page and saw a recipe instead of the next chapter, I sat at back in my chair, frowned at the screen and said “what?” I then remembered this is the first book of a series, but an abrupt ending is still that – jarring. Lastly, with some mentions here and there and some foreshadowing, I suspect several plot developments to come that I won’t get into because of possible spoilers, so we’ll see if I’ve called it as we go along.
A solid four-star book that has me looking forward to the next in the series: Fusion