Book Review: Damage Control by Jae

This review was originally published on The Rainbow Hub on June 1st, 2015. I have been given permission to reprint the review here. Enjoy!

Damage Control is…many things. Let’s start at the beginning. Grace is an actress in the middle of a scandal where the paparazzi have accused her of lesbianism. Her management team decide to hire a new publicist, Lauren, to smooth over the whole ordeal. Through the on goings of Grace’s divorce, her best friend and fellow actress’ struggle with MS, and the release of her new movie, Grace slowly realizes that she may be falling for Lauren, and that’s the last thing she needs in her life.

So let’s chat about the good. All of the characters, not just the two leads, are likable. Even Grace’s mother, puppeteer that she is, falls into the likable category. They are all pulled by forces outside their own nature, through the whims of Hollywood, and this makes for tough choices amongst the characters. But the decisions they make, the relationships they hold, feel real and relatable.

Lauren and Grace’s road together is very sweet. That’s kind of all that can be said about it. And while it’s nice to read about women in their thirties trying to figure out their sexuality this whole book up until the very end comes off incredibly innocent. What this book is versus what it wants to be just don’t mesh up, and it unfortunately comes off reading like an arc in a sitcom where you watch two characters almost get together over the course of 10 seasons. After a while it just gets frustrating.

One of the main characters, Jill, spends her arc of the book trying to manage her career in the face of being an out lesbian as well as handling a chronic illness. It was incredibly refreshing to meet a gay character struggling with the nuances of disability, especially in this book, which is so focused on the almost not quite trying to happen love affair of our two leads. Jill was a welcome addition to the story, which kept me from getting completely irritated.

Most books, most stories for that matter, follow a basic pattern. This plot arc exists because it works, and is the traditional way of telling stories. There’s exposition, rising action, a climax, falling action and a resolution. This book kept on rising…and rising…rising and then the climax, falling action and resolution happened so quickly you get whiplash. It would have been and infinitely more nuanced and interesting story if what happened over the last chapter two chapters and epilogue were spread out to the latter half of the novel.

Overall, Damage Control is worth a read. If you can handle the pacing of the plot, what you’ll find is a sweet, likable love story that is more that the flashing lights of Hollywood.

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