When love is not madness, it is not love. ~ Pedro Calderon de la Barca
It is not an original trope. Two men love each other. They are in a professional situation in which their love may not be accepted. Due to circumstances beyond their control, they are forced to hide their feelings from everyone except those closest to them.
It is not an original trope. Two young men, barely men almost boys, experience first love. The powers-that-be do everything they can to keep the young lovers apart for their own reasons. Sometimes it is parents keeping them apart for religious or moral reasons. Sometimes it is a corporation that seemingly controls every aspect of their lives.
What is original is M.J. O’Shea’s spin on combining these two tropes and taking the reader on a wild, heart pounding, angst and tear-filled thrill ride. Simply put, Catch My Breath is one of those “I can’t put it down, even though I know I have to function in real life tomorrow, I have to finish it or I won’t be able to sleep worth a damn anyway!” books.
Even when I was happy with what was happening with the characters, I was crying. M.J. created these young men, five of them, not just the two main characters, as whole human beings. They leap off the page and into your heart. They are three dimensional, just… real. Young men with lives, hopes, dreams, families and the same need all human beings have to love and be loved.
All Danny Bright wants to do in life is to entertain people. Elliot Price reluctantly takes part in a talent competition because his best friend talks him into it. They and three other young men are chosen to form “Static”, the next hot American Boy Band. As is normal in these situations, there are thick contracts with lots of legalese and tiny print to be signed. All the young men take the contracts to lawyers, doing the responsible thing before signing them. They are being given the opportunity of a lifetime, right? Any one who has ever read a romance novel knows it simply can’t be that easy.
The five boys become closer than brothers, but before they know it, they are no longer people. They aren’t even a music group. They are a commodity. And for the entertainment machine to make money, certain appearances must be kept up. The boys must behave in a wholesome manner that makes the mothers of their teenage fans think it would be ok for their daughters to date them. They mustn’t drink, smoke, sleep around (too much), go to wild parties or do illegal drugs. And above all else, they must not be gay!!! They have to appear attainable to their tween fangirls.
It is painful to read the lengths to which the producer and PR people are willing to force Danny and Elliot to go to hide their love for one another. I felt the agony in Elliot’s heart every time Danny was forced on another fake date. It was maddening. It was frustrating. It had me yelling at my Kindle. I did keep myself from throwing it, though.
A loophole is eventually found in the contract by one of the other band member’s lawyers. By this point, Elliot and Danny have been forced to live this horrible, hidden existence, even breaking up, for over a year. They take a very public stand. They force the record company to back off and explain that they now know what the fine print really says!
It is so empowering to these boys to take control of their own destinies. O’Shea appears to be taking them by the hand and leading them into adulthood. Her masterful hand brings things back to center. Everyone is back where they belong. It is amazing how deep into the emotional upheaval O’Shea was able to take me. I loved every minute of it. Even the ones I hated! This is a great book. A must read.
Reviewed by: Tina