Danny promised his dying father he would take care of the family, but a promise looks much different when someone is twelve than it does at sixteen. When his sister leaves for college, he realizes he’s trapped in his father’s dream. He runs the family restaurant with his mother and tucks his own dreams away, until he falls in love with Aryn, a girl in his chorus class.
Aryn has returned from her summer vacation and Pretentious is practicing for Battle of the Bands. Danny is considering moving their relationship forward, but Aryn has a secret. Will Danny find out what it is?
Pretentious is a series of YA/NA novellas that follow Danny and Aryn in their attempt to create a band and follow their dreams, while honoring Danny’s commitment to take care of his mother, a nurturing Italian woman everyone calls Mama, and his sister, Becky. It’s a story about family, commitment, love and the confusion of betrayal.
OK, where to start with this one? Once again, it’s a continuation of the first two Pretentious novellas, so if you haven’t read them, you’ll want to do so first. Enough has happened that this one really doesn’t stand alone, and does require at least Summer Shade for some of the story to make sense.
We are back at the starting point, so there is very little world building needed now. The little that does occur is nicely feathered into the story. It’s mostly the personal relationships and how they affect the other characters.
As with Alfredo’s the characters are who are really driving the plot forward. And, there is quite a bit going on. I don’t like to give spoilers, so will refrain from saying much about the “how and why” the characters have some tremendous personal growth. However, there is some fallout from events that occurred in Summer Shade, and if I didn’t know better, I’d think that Jena had lived through some experiences similar to what she’s included here. The growth she incorporated into this installment had me grousing and cussing at the characters at some points, while at others I was laughing and crying with them. While the first two books were immersive experiences for me, this one didn’t pull me in as deep. Perhaps, it is because the romance is coming out into the open instead of providing a foundation, or perhaps because real life just wouldn’t let go while I was reading.
Though this installment didn’t provide quite the same engagement as the others, it continued to carry the varied, and richly textured story though another satisfying read. Once again, I dove into the story, and when I came up after I wondered how so much action had been packed into such a short space, and when I would be able to get my hands on the next installment. That may have been what kept me from getting lost to the real world – there is a strain of realism that flows through this installment that gives it a little harder edge than the others, but I can also see the potential for so much more. Now, I want to know what Jena’s going to do with it.
Because I didn’t get completely lost in the story like I did in the others, despite enjoying it just as much, I’m knocking a star off. Yes, I will come back and re-read after I’ve whittled down my “want to read” stack, but there’s something that just didn’t strike me right.
If you enjoyed the review, and were intrigued, you can get your own copy of Summer Shade on Amazon. And, don’t forget to check out Jena’s other books, because they are all as well written as this one.
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