Title: There’s Something About Ari
Author: L.B. Gregg
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 95 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: Buck Ellis’s future seems pretty damn bright. With a full college scholarship in hand, he’s going to ditch Bluewater Bay and pave the way for his kid brother Charlie to do the same. The only fly in Buck’s ointment is his ten-year addiction to his best friend since second grade, his true love, and his Achilles heel: Ari Valentine, Mr. Least Likely to Succeed.
But then Buck’s mother dies, changing everything, and five years later, his future is still on hold. It’s a struggle to keep food on the table, a roof over their heads, and Charlie on the straight and narrow. Buck can’t afford any temptation, especially in the form of the newly returned, super hot, super confident, super successful television star Ari Valentine.
ADHD poster-child Ari Valentine left for Hollywood and lost everything, including his bad reputation. Then the breakthrough role of his skyrocketing career lands him back in Bluewater Bay, to the stunned disbelief of, well, everyone. But there’s only one person Ari longs to impress—the only person who ever really mattered to him, the person he left behind: Buck Ellis.
Review: There sure as hell is something about Ari, and it’s something wonderful and charming, something that plucks out a rueful tune on your heartstrings—when you aren’t busy, that is, grinning stupidly at some of the comical elements L.B. Gregg always manages to deftly weave into her stories.
Life is quick to hand out change and challenges and, let’s face it, can sometimes kick you pretty hard right in the chucks when you least expect it, especially when you’re little more than a kid. So when a second chance at love comes along, you can either let it go because you’re full of the fear and regret the years of growing up with the weight of the world on your shoulders has left you with, or you can swallow the past’s grief and let your heart lead you to the one person who has always owned it. The heart of There’s Something About Ari is the pain of the wasted years that came between Ari Valentine and Buck Ellis, the two men who met as kids and parted as teenagers because life and fate are sometimes cruel mistresses. The soul of the book is the way L.B. Gregg brings these two men back together again after five years of longing and healing, and the way she manages, in ninety-five short pages, to make the reader care about how they parted, why, and then makes us cheer them on to their happy ending.
The details in this short novel are spare, which is not my kind and gentle way of saying it’s lacking. No, there are no wheels being reinvented here, and yes, I’d have loved more time with Ari and Buck, getting to know them, but anything more might have been superfluous filler to the point of this story because everything that matters is there within these few pages to endear them to us, one mistake on Buck’s part at a time. This novella does exactly what a shorter story is supposed to do–give maximum gratification in a minimum word count.
While I have a feeling I might’ve learned a bit more about Bluewater Bay, Washington and the TV show that’s filmed there—the reason, or at least part of the reason Ari’s come home again—if I’d read the first book in this serial (L.A. Witt’s Starstruck), these stories are definitely written as standalones, and it’s easy enough to pick up on the gist of the series arc.
Filled with the small town charm of the people who inhabit it, There’s Something About Ari would, without reservation, get a TNA Page Turner recommendation…if something like it existed.
You can buy There’s Something About Ari here: