Title: Fierce & Fabulous (Sassy Boyz: Book One)
Author: Elizabeth Varlet
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: 255 Pages
Category: Contemporary Romance
At a Glance: I don’t want to give away too many details, but there was enough goodness in that final twenty-five percent to bump my rating an extra star, and ensure that I will be on board for the next installment in the series.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Fitch Donovan never thought a lap dance could change his life, but from the moment the gorgeous dancer’s lips touch his, his world comes screeching to a halt. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t shake the desire that rocks him to his core. He’s longed for this passion all his life—he just never dreamed he’d find it with another man.
Sharing a soul-shaking kiss with a straight boy is the kind of drama Ansel Becke just doesn’t need. Spotlights aren’t made for two and Ansel prefers to keep things on a one-night-only basis. So when Fitch shows up asking for an encore, Ansel knows he should send his gorgeous ass packing.
Though Ansel tries to pretend that what’s between him and Fitch is far from fabulous, there’s something about the big, burly contractor that makes Ansel’s world sparkle in a way no amount of glitter ever could. And Fitch will do whatever it takes to convince Ansel that when the thing you need most in the world falls right into your lap, you’d be a fool to let it go.
Review: Never have I taken the platitude “don’t judge a book by its cover” more to heart than I did after finishing Fierce & Fabulous—the first in a new series by Elizabeth Varlet. For whatever reason, when I first saw the cover, it did the opposite of making me want to read it. I don’t mean to sound harsh—we all like different things—but the cover art just didn’t appeal to me. The book kept creeping across my radar, however, so finally, after reading the blurb again and seeing quite a bit of positive buzz from others, I decided to overlook the wrapping and see what was inside. What I found was a mostly engaging story with fairly strong themes of redemption, the value of chosen family, acceptance, and forgiveness.
Fitch is basically your typical all-American, blue-collar guy. He is working toward taking over his dad’s construction business, is very close with his family, and is what you might call a serial dater. He’s also never questioned the fact that he is completely straight—until the night of his sister’s twenty-first birthday party. Meg has chosen the local gay bar as her party location because she and her friends want to catch the act of popular dance troupe the Sassy Boyz, a gender-bending group of men dancing sexily in high heels to the hits of P!nk, Beyonce, Britney, etc. Obviously you are correct to picture Yanis Marshall here, though in my eyes the main difference is Yanis and his dance partners—and other similar groups—are clearly men, whereas the Sassy Boyz are written as clearly trying to pass as women, or at least being easily mistaken for the opposite sex until closer inspection reveals otherwise.
The member of the Sassy Boyz who catches Fitch’s eye is Ansel, the gorgeous, long-haired, leggy blond. Fitch is mesmerized by this beautiful blond throughout the act, even after realizing that the creature he can’t keep his eyes off of is a man. During the customary post-performance circulation around the room—where the guys socialize, flirt, and perform private dances for tips—Ansel ends up at Meg’s group, where Meg cajoles (read: rudely and obnoxiously forces) Fitch into getting a lap dance. The rest, as they say, is history. Instant, undeniable attraction; the chase; the honeymoon phase; the inevitable drama; and the HEA. Ok—I’m being a bit tongue in cheek here, obviously. 😉 There is a formula to most romances, though, as we all know, and this one is no exception. The question is whether the author can bring something unique and satisfy the reader in the end.
Did Varlet bring something unique? I think so. The Sassy Boyz are absolutely intriguing, both as a group and individually. The story of how they came together is special and heart-warming. Also, Fitch turned out to not be your typical jock-type falling for the pretty-boy. He is special in his own right. Now, as far as satisfying the reader? That took a bit of time for me. I would call this story a late bloomer. If I would have had to rate it anywhere prior to the halfway mark, or even three-quarters, I would have given it a soft three stars. The character development was slow going—it took quite a while before we got enough of their stories for me to really sink my teeth in. There were definitely parts that felt contrived, and a bit of melodrama as well, but not enough to significantly throw me off.
All of that being said, in the end Varlet totally brought it. The final quarter of the book was famazing. Everything came together. Ansel’s strength came out—he was always incredibly strong, it just took him some time and someone to love him to make him see it—and Fitch absolutely shined. So much to love in these last few chapters: beautiful, affirming moments between Fitch and Ansel; a fantastic dinner at Fitch’s parents’; an amazing surprise party; a gooorgeous sex scene… I don’t want to give away too many details, but there was enough goodness in that final twenty-five percent to bump my rating an extra star, and ensure that I will be on board for the next installment in the series.
Bottom line? I definitely liked it. Fitch was incredible. Ansel won me over in the end. Their romance and chemistry was very strong—even when they were being schmaltzy they were awesome. Ansel’s friends—the rest of the guys in the group, and his best friend Ange—were a big part of the story and I liked them all, for the most part. They each had very different personalities, so it will be fun to see where the author takes them all. I’m going to say right now that I’m hoping for even more dancing in the next one! I would love to see the Sassy Boyz move on to bigger and better things than the bar, and to see them each get their own HEA.
You can buy Fierce & Fabulous here: