Title ~ True Brit
Author ~ Con Riley
Publisher ~ Figment Ink Publishing
Published ~ 18th February 2015
Genre ~ M/M Contemporary Romance
Winning the United Kingdom’s favorite singing contest is a challenge for half-Afghani Pasha Trueman. He doesn’t have the best voice, but success would be life-changing. His strategy is simple—he’ll make the British public love him.
Ed Britten is an ex-soldier with a different agenda. Winning means he’ll keep a promise made after a deadly Afghan ambush. His voice is his weapon, but he leaves his heart unguarded.
Ed and Pasha’s discovery that the contest isn’t a fair fight calls for creative tactics. Staging a fake love story could bring victory, only there’s more at stake than the prestigious first prize. If winning means surrendering each other, they could both end up losing.
Have you ever wondered what really goes on behind the scenes of your favourite reality music show? Well Con Riley has put her own twist on it in True Brit, her newest release, featuring two engaging reality stars Pasha and Ed who come up with their own unique way of bringing in the votes… and it’s a winner for Macky!
It’s Con’s first visit, so join us in giving her a big Sinfully… Addictive welcome! And don’t forget to enter the giveaway.
Love 'em or hate 'em, reality music shows are now a staple part of the entertainment business so I was intrigued to see how Con Riley would approach the subject, as all the books I've read from her up to now have been very moving and emotionally charged. The 'fake boyfriend' concept and its setting had me thinking this would be more of a 'popcorn' read, but actually what I got was a sweet, gentle, slow burn romance with a lot more 'heart and soul' than I was expecting and I guess that's testament to Con's writing skills in bringing two very warm and endearing characters to life in Pasha and Ed.
I found myself genuinely liking these two guys, and if Britpop! was a real show, I'd definitely have rooted for both of them...even more so if like the public in this story, I'd been sucked into their pretend romance too. Why they decide to concoct their #TrueBrit/#TrueLove story is all part of the behind the scenes drama starring a nasty Cowell-esque character who in true bad guy mode is working to his own agenda, fuelling the sub plot unfolding outside of Pasha and Ed's growing romance. But the part I enjoyed the most, was watching what started out as make believe turn to the truth as the two of them chased fame and fortune but found love instead. With a little twist thrown in around Pasha and Ed's roles in their romantic deception, which took me a bit by surprise.
The beginning of the book was more about the workings of the show and getting to know the two main characters…setting the scene. Complete opposites, Pasha is the lively, full of fun, cheeky contestant. All about using the social networks to get himself more into the public eye, he's the one who might not be the best singer in the competition but his likability factor and personality is his winning card; whereas steady, solid Ed has the amazing voice, but tends to disappear into the background because of his quieter more sedate nature.
An ex soldier, discharged after a tragedy in Afghanistan; the TV company had hoped pitting Ed against Pasha because of his half Aghani heritage would cause some high drama for the show, but even though there's no particular love lost between them at the beginning, that type of animosity doesn't cross either of their minds, so as far as the management are concerned if they're not playing the game it's time for them to go...but Pasha Trueman desperately wants to win for reasons of his own and he knows that despite his quieter persona, Ed Britten has just as strong a motivation for wanting to get to the finals as him. He decides it's time for them to create some publicity of their own, so he comes up with the idea for operation "#TrueBrit" and from then on its its a case of may the best man...girl...or boy band win!
There are also some great supporting characters who add even more emotional connect to the story because of their relationships to both MC's. Anya: the sixteen year old girl singer is a real sweetie who despite their friendly rivalry gets close to them both but especially Pasha, who behind the charm isn’t always as confident as he seems. Then there's Ed's understanding Mum who we get to meet when the two of them get away from the intensity of the show for a few days and start to really explore their true feelings for each other, and finally Mandy: a special friend of the family, and her baby boy Jo, who are very influential in the reasons why winning means SO much to Ed.
This isn't a particularly steamy book. The sex is there but really it’s more about the romance, the simmer and the anticipation that builds, as their faux relationship turns to the real thing. So when it does happen, you feel their love scenes actually mean something to them, which I thought suited the feel of the story perfectly.
The nail biting final where the three finalists sing their hearts out (but not in the way Mr Nasty Producer is expecting) to become the winner is totally satisfying and of course apart from wanting to see the two of them fall in love properly, is really what we all want to find out. So…
AND THE WINNER IS.….(insert excrutiatingly annoying long silent wait in which you have time to put the kettle on, make a brew and drink it before they announce the result!)…..
That you’ll have to find out or yourselves. But I will say I was totally happy with the outcome and had a little cheer to myself at the end! Give me reading against watching anyday!
A word from Con
In my other life, I work with children and families. I’ve done so for years now, and I’ve seen distinct changes in how kids measure success. These days, singing on a TV talent show is viewed as an achievable shortcut to riches. The assumption is that money leads to a lifetime’s happiness, and can solve any problem.
I wrote True Brit wondering what might happen if two contestants — ex-soldier Ed and half-Afghani Pasha — had that same assumption. Could any prize make up for earlier loss, and would a truly good man steal first place from his opposition, even if they should be textbook rivals?
Readers of True Brit say its premise is reminiscent of X Factor or The Voice. Others mention that its the Big Brother-like aspects of a living in a shared house that caught their imagination. But most reviewers go on to agree that there’s so much more to the story, and that’s exactly what I hoped for.
Attraction smoulders between Pasha and Ed when they practice working together to win votes…
Pasha hesitated before speaking again. “We should… we should probably touch. A lot. But naturally, you know? As if we have a hard time keeping our hands off each other.”
“Like this?” Ed reached for the half-full mug Pasha clutched to his chest and made sure both his hands covered Pasha’s for an extended moment as he slowly took it from him.
“And like this?” Ed pushed the strands of hair covering Pasha’s eyes to one side. “Hi.”
This time Pasha slowly smiled instead of answering.
“And what about if we hold hands?” Ed awkwardly threaded his fingers through Pasha’s. “Is that too much, do you think?”
Pasha shook his head. “No.” He cleared his throat. “No, that’s exactly what I meant by natural.” He tugged his fingers away and wiped his palms on his trousers as if they were sweaty. “You’re taking to this much faster than I thought you would.”
There wasn’t much Ed wouldn’t do to get to the finals. “It’s all about motivation,” he explained. “And repetition.” He grabbed Pasha’s hand again and looked carefully where their fingers knit together. “Like stripping down a rifle before putting it back together. You do it over and over until it stops feeling clumsy.” He turned their joined hands over, studying them from another angle. “And then you do it some more.”
Ed let Pasha’s hand fall. He didn’t look down at all when he next reached out. Their hands slid together easily—a key snug in its lock. “There.” Ed held on for longer this time, and Pasha returned the steady pressure.
They were quiet. Traffic was a constant rumble that kept them company, and somewhere close by there was the faint sound of music.
“Can I sit with you at dinner?” Ed asked.
“Then maybe we could find somewhere out of range of the cameras, talk about how to play tomorrow.”
Pasha silently agreed again.
Ed twisted his wrist to look at his watch, Pasha’s hand still firmly in his. “We should go and join the others.”
Still Pasha said nothing.
“Is this okay?” Ed squeezed his fingers.
“Yeah,” Pasha blinked a few times. “Yeah. It’s perfect.”
“Let’s go, then.”
When Ed tugged at his hand one more time, Pasha followed where he led.
About Con Riley
Con Riley lives on the wild and rugged Devonshire coast, with her head in the clouds, and her feet in the Atlantic Ocean.
Injury curtailed her enjoyment of outdoor pursuits, so writing fiction now fills her free time. Love, loss, and redemption shape her romance stories, and her characters are flawed in ways that makes them live and breathe.
When not people watching, or wrangling her own boy band of teen sons, she spends time staring at the sea from her kitchen window. If you see her, don't disturb her—she’s probably thinking up new plots.
Con is generously gifting one reader an ecopy of True Brit. Enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win.a Rafflecopter giveaway