Tangled Web, by S.A. Ozment
Release Date: May 18, 2016
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
By day Ashley Stevens is a dedicated nurse; by night he runs multiple social media sites for his crush and all-time favorite actor, Sebastian Gray. After a particularly grueling day at work, Ashley drinks away his misery while dreaming about being with Sebastian—only to realize it’s no dream when Sebastian actually contacts him.
Sebastian asks him to officially run his sites and Ashley is thrilled—right up until Sebastian makes it clear that he thinks Ashley is a girl. And maybe it’s the wine, or maybe it’s a fear that if Sebastian knew the truth, he wouldn’t want him, but Ashley never sets him straight. But keeping the secret becomes a nightmare as Ashley and Sebastian talk online night after night, forging a true connection. And the longer Ashley waits to tell the truth, the more tangled the lies become.
A plane ticket from Sebastian along with an invitation to meet in New York City for a fan event brings it all to a head. Ashley must face Sebastian and tell all, but he might not be the only one keeping secrets.
Straight up, this is a story about catfishing with some potential stalking thrown in for a little extra added crazy. If you’re not familiar with catfishing, it means to “lure (someone) into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona.” In the case of Tangled Web, it’s about how Ashley lies about who he really is in order to win the affections of Sebastian, his celebrity crush. I totally get that romance is supposed to be fantasy but good writing should also have some kind of moral that the reader can take away from it – something that this story is lacking. For as much as I feel the truth evasion theme is overdone, I especially don’t like when it’s used in romance because it’s a terrible foundation to build a relationship upon. But all of this isn’t my biggest issue with the book.
Lying about your identity is not the same as keeping your sexual orientation private. These are two completely separate things. As Seb and Ash start getting to know each other, at no point does Seb lead Ash to believe they are anything more than friends and I stand firm behind the belief that LGBTQ+ people can come out to whoever they want, whenever they want. They are under no obligation to reveal this information about themselves when making new friends. Outing oneself is a very personal decision because it could be detrimental to their livelihood or even their well being. Yet, when Ash finds out that Seb is gay, he uses it to justify that he isn’t the only liar in their friendship and continues to make excuses for his actions rather than seriously considering his wrongdoings. Then, to add insult to injury, we have Seb questioning his sexuality and it’s never even mentioned that, hey, dude might be bi. There would be nothing wrong with that if he was, but instead it’s handled as though discovering that he might not be 100% all about the D would be a bad thing. So when they finally talk after the conflict and the first thing Ash does is lie to Seb again, I had had enough.
By the midway point I was merely feeding my curiosity to see how Ozment would right Ash’s wrongs but when I realized that wasn’t going to happen I wanted to shut it down with a DNF on the spot. It just ended up being another case of someone writing words in a sequence that suits them whether or not they have any basis on reality, fact, or what is morally the right thing to do. This is fanfic at best and not even a very good one at that. I do not recommend it.
S.A. Ozment was born and raised in North Carolina. From the time she was born she had stars in her eyes. Being shipped off to college rather than heading to Broadway (which was her dream) put a damper on her bright lights/big city dream.
However, she was still drawn to the world of entertainment. Over the years, when she wasn’t working as an accountant,S.A. was promoting different actors and singers via social media, (some officially, some not so officially).
Working with celebrities sometimes allowed her to see “behind the scenes” and after deciding to share some of her experiences, she wrote her first book, “Illusions”.
Most nights, you will find her curled up with her laptop writing or promoting someone. Unless “The Walking Dead” or “Outlander” is on and then you will find her in front of the television.
You can buy Tangled Web at:
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.