Brandi Maxwell is a student at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) and an intern at the Simon Van Doren fashion house. Even though she’s working like crazy, Brandi doesn’t look like the mold of the other girls and staff. She wants to be included in Simon’s upcoming Milan trip though and when her star football player and legacy boyfriend Nate Robinson volunteers to reach out to Simon’s it-girl model daughter Taylor for help, it makes a difference. She facilitates a meet with Simon who is impressed but Brandi later overhears Taylor and her friends plotting something sinister. Her life gets forever linked with Taylor’s and not in a good way.
the heart of the story…
I liked Brandi’s heart as she beat incredible odds to end up with that internship. She’s young, an orphan, beautiful and obviously talented but being Black in a world of highly privileged young White women presents unique challenges as well. I admired her relationship with Nate who is following in his famous football father’s legacy but is successful in his own right. Taylor, however, is pretty damaged but is infamous as an influencer, too. She feels entitled to a trust fund her father won’t release until she has a clean drug test, which is more difficult than it sounds given her lifestyle. Their relationship fractured when her mother died and she wants her money now. We see the depths of her depravity masked behind a beautiful veneer that she uses with the public, police and friends and against the unsuspecting Brandi, who is no match for Taylor…until she was.
This wasn’t my first experience with both narrators so their stellar performances came as no surprise, one of the reasons I wanted this story on audio. Shayna Small made me believe her as Brandi and Brittany Pressley was delicious as Taylor. If you have a choice, listen to this book!
the bottom line…
This was no ordinary tale of duplicity as it took quite a few bends leading up to a surprise conclusion. I really thought Brandi was no match for Taylor and Nate’s wavering drove me mad. The authors finely portrayed the imbalance between the privileged powerful and those with less means and standing. That power leverage was often subtle but also included those less influenced by it, able to see it through clearer lenses. Brandi sometimes did things that were ill advised but that seemed realistic. One thing was for certain, I was always off balance because despite some predictable paths, that road would suddenly shift off that beaten path. This was one interesting ride and quite the page turner. I got more than I expected in this debut novel and highly recommend the audio version.
- Release Date: December 27, 2022
- Narrators: Shayna Small & Brittany Pressley
- Audio Length: 10 hours, 8 minutes
- Publisher: Harlequin Audio
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(See the Spotlight post here for more info on the authors and book.)