Title: Acting on Love
Author: S.J. Frost
Publisher: MLR Press
Pages/Word Count: 36000 Words
At a Glance: A nice, short and sweet addition to this fan-favorite series.
Reviewed By: Sadonna
Blurb: Brandon Alexander has risen to the top of theatre in Chicago, but when you reach the top, there’s usually only one way left to go. Funding fell through on the latest play he was to star in and now he finds himself an unemployed actor. Coming fresh off a bad audition, he wonders if his time in the spotlight is over. But what worries him more, is not making the man he loves proud of him.
Shunichi Miyamoto runs a highly successful dojo. He had always let work be the focus of his life, until over a year ago, the man of his dreams walked into the dojo to rekindle his passion for karate, and it led to further passions between him and Brandon. He knows Brandon is worried about his career, but he loves him, he’s proud of him, and he’ll do anything for Brandon’s happiness.
Both Brandon and Shunichi want to spend their lives together, but when a new opportunity comes to Brandon, he must decide whether to follow his career dreams or to act on his love for Shunichi.
Review: I enjoyed this novella, and eighth book in the Conquest series, about the familiar secondary characters Brandon and Shun, Jesse’s brother and his partner. There are lots of spoilers for the other Conquest books, though, so I don’t recommend reading Acting on Love out of order.
We have seen Brandon Alexander, Jesse’s brother, in several of the other Conquest books. In book 2 of the series, No Fear, Brandon meets Shunichi Miyamoto, and they fall deeply in love. Shun runs his family’s dojo and is busy with his students and classes. Brandon’s career in the Chicago theater world has taken off, and he is quite successful.
They have been together for a year in this story, when Brandon’s next play falls through and he then blows an audition. Like most actors (or so I’m told), he begins to have a lot of doubt about his career, his talent and ultimately, his worth – particularly as a partner to Shun. In the meantime, Shun is busier than ever with the dojo.
When Brandon is really down about the audition, Shun tells him they will be okay. He’s sure Brandon will be fine and he will get another job. He’s realistic about the recession and how artists are impacted, but he continues to reassure Brandon that things will get better and that he’s going to get through this.
Just when things are looking bleak, Brandon is offered a dream job, but it means potentially big changes in his life, and Shun’s too. He’s nervous and excited and scared and worried. Jesse and Evan try to help Shun keep Brandon calm in the face of this new opportunity. Of course, Shun is nervous as well, since this job means that their relationship will change in some ways, but he’s confident they can work it out. Unfortunately, he’s not sure Brandon has the same confidence.
There are some tense moments as Brandon prepares for the audition of a lifetime, but there is support and encouragement too. Shun and Jesse and Evan play a big part in helping Brandon see what needs to be done. It was really nice to catch up with Jesse and Evan, and see a lot of brotherly love between Jesse and Brandon especially.
The big question in this story is whether or not Brandon and Shun can take all the changes that might be in store for them, and come out the other side. Both guys have to make some decisions and determine what they really want and what they are willing to compromise to get it.
This story is a bit shorter than more of the Conquest novels, but I felt like we got a good sense of these characters in past stories, so there wasn’t a lot of background information required. S.J. Frost told a complete story in this shorter work, and it didn’t feel rushed or choppy at all. If you are a fan of this series, then I definitely recommend it.
You can buy Acting on Love here: