Amy Lane’s Selfie is part of the Bluewater Bay universe. This series consists of stand-alone novels written by different authors, all set in the same world of Bluewater Bay in Washington State, around the set of Wolf’s Landingthe television series being shot there.
Following the death of the love of his life, movie actor Connor Montgomery has spent the last year in an emotional daze. The true nature of his relationship with Vinnie was always a closely kept secret whilst they lived in the glare of Hollywood and the paparazzi, and on the first anniversary of Vinnie’s death, Connor records a drunken confession and puts it on YouTube. Luckily, the sound doesn’t record and his secret is safe.
Realising she has to do something about her deteriorating client, Connor’s agent, Jilly Lombard, sets him up with a part in the hit television seriesWolf’s Landing, which is set in beautiful Bluewater Bay. There Connor meets his studio-assigned assistant Noah Dakers – who sees through Connor’s façade and discovers his biggest secret very quickly. He then makes it his mission to look after this gorgeous man, and sets about bringing Connor to life again.
Noah Dakers is wonderful as Connor’s assistant and new love interest. He is local to Bluewater Bay, and many members of his family are also invested in the television show. Even his Grandmother cleans and shops for the house that Connor is given for the duration of his contract. Noah’s family plays an important role in the story and they are all unique, sympathetic and interesting secondary characters. It is impossible to read about Noah’s warm family and wildly decorated home without imagining how Connor would see it. Especially, as Connor seems to be always looking for family and home, having lost his own.
Amy Lane is known as the ‘queen of angst’, and there is angst a plenty here, but for me, Selfie doesn’t quite reach the heights of some of her previous novels. Having said that, there is a lot to commend in this one; all the characters are beautifully written, and it is easy to empathise with them. Connor is a gentle, rather self-deprecating man, and his cumulative grief response feels real. But there are a few too many moments where Vinnie is portrayed in a bad light and his faults emphasised in order to highlight Noah’s good points. It is hard to write a nuanced ‘love after love’ story, but I don’t like those that have a tendency to blacken the lost love. Towards the end, the author does right the balance – though it is not Connor’s grief that I felt tearful over, but Jilly’s.
At 400 pages, the book does feel a bit too long, or that might be due to the pacing. The first section is a little slow, and I did find myself skimming some parts. Throughout the novel, the reader feels that the story is heading towards an emotional explosion of sorts, and I liked the constant underlying sense of tension. Sadly, because of the slow and rather long first section, the much anticipated emotional climax, while beautifully written, was summarily dealt with in what felt like just a few pages.
A few weeks before I read Selfie I read another novel that also tackles the subject of losing the love of your life, and I have to say I liked it better. Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable read, and as always, Amy Lane’s writing transports you straight into the heart of her stories.