This book was such a happy surprise for me! It’s about Eve, a former teen model-turned-photography student, and Alex, an up-and-coming model. It’s set in a world of fashion shoots that didn’t feel superficial or in-your-face glitzy, so the characters and dilemmas were actually believable. I couldn’t put it down.
Eve hit the big-time when she was fifteen. She modeled around the world, fell in love with her agent, and scored a big Gucci campaign. But she walked away at age sixteen. Tabloids reported all sorts lies while she hid away. She saved what was left of her money (her horrible parents spent most of it) for college. Now, at eighteen, she wants to be a photographer. She has a different name and some real skills, so she interns with a professional photographer who happens to be doing a… fashion shoot.
Alex is also eighteen. He’s a “lanky blond guy,” trying to make the transition from teen model to Real Adult model. His agent sets up a fake relationship with a young French model to create buzz and land them some sexy ad campaigns. Alex is amazingly self-aware. He knows he won’t be paid like this forever, so he’s totally focused on his career now. He refers to himself as manipulative and charming; he’s totally in control of his body during a shoot; and he’s great at acting in front of the camera. All this, yet he doesn’t come across as egotistical, just good at his job.
Both Eve and Alex show some impressive character growth for their age. Alex expands his worldview, realizing that he doesn’t know everything and that he can’t solve all problems by himself. I was so impressed when he reached out to others for help. Eve reevaluates her perception of herself. At times I thought she was an unreliable narrator because how she talked about her past didn’t seem to mesh with what happened, which was good writing and believable character development.
The modeling industry is kind of a background character. There’s talk of agency-provided apartments, clothes, and chauffeurs; dietary restrictions; and the hierarchy of catalog campaigns. Also, “We changed [her] age [from fourteen] to eighteen. The designers thought it would reflect poorly on them, promoting such a young model as a sex symbol.” The hypocrisy is understood as just part of the game.
The romance is almost perfect. Eve feels that Alex sees and understands the real her, he supports her. Alex feels like Eve makes him a better person. They start out just as secret friends, and then they get flirty. I loved watching their relationship develop with so much other drama happening around them.
I have two quibbles with the romance, though. First, almost as soon as they have their first date, there’s a time lapse. Sure, it might have been boring to watch them hang out and be happy, but we really miss out on them hanging out and being happy. Second, the sex is offscreen. It begins with kissing, then cuts to the next scene, shortly afterwards. Some people might like a sex-free book, and I don’t mind, per se. But Eve had a bad romance in her past, and I would have liked to see her react to her first time with Alex, rather than him asking if she likes sex now.
The story moves quickly, and even though there are a lot of secondary characters, I didn’t feel bogged down by them. It felt like a slice of a fast world, and I really enjoyed my time there. Some non-romance drama takes center stage near the end, but the main characters got their supremely happy for now ending.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Julie Cross and Mark Perini
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire