True Colors, by Anyta Sunday
Series: True Love, book 2
Release Date: March 14, 2017
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Oskar used to be Marco’s best friend. His everything. His sunshine yellow.
But that was before. Before Marco stopped being a hot jock. Before he learned to live with scars and pain. And before Oskar tore their friendship apart.
Now the boy next door has returned home, determined to rekindle his friendship with Marco, and Marco’s more afraid than ever. Afraid of getting hurt. Afraid of being humiliated.
Afraid of falling in love.
Can Oskar find a way through Marco’s fear, back into his heart?
“True Colors” is an enemies to lovers, boy next door, first time, slow burn M/M romance with a generous helping of UST. This no-cliffhanger, HEA book can be read as a standalone.
Friends to Lovers/Enemies to Lovers
Warning for Bullying and Gay Bashing
It’s official, I have a new favorite trope: Friends to Enemies to Lovers. Is that a thing? Cause that’s what I’m calling it. Set in Berlin, True Colors is a story of friendship and betrayal, but mostly it’s about love, both familial and romantic.
Marco and Oskar were next-door neighbors and the closest of childhood friends, until their friendship was ripped apart. Their story, told in Marco’s POV, had a somewhat shaky start for me with several time jumps within the first few pages. It featured seemingly random moments when the boys were 13, then it fast forwarded to age 20, which is where their story takes place. It’s only throughout the course of the book that you start piecing together everything that occurred during that seven-year time lapse.
The storytelling was really well done and I was completely hooked. Marco had a vulnerability and quiet intensity about him that drew me in from the start – he just felt real to me. His hurt, elation, anger – all his emotions – radiated off the page, but what got to me the most was how ashamed he was of the scars he carried on his body. It soon became apparent that it wasn’t just self-consciousness that kept him from things like, say swimming or sex, and his hurt and humiliation at times flowed so heavily and painfully off the page that it swallowed me whole. There may or may not have been ugly crying on my part during a few choice intervals. Okay, maybe more than a few.
All the tingly, bright colors I’d attributed to Oskar swirled into an ugly bleeding red.
I really loved the way Marco used color to describe moods and personalities. I didn’t always understand or remember the significance of each color, but what started off as something quirky and refreshing (Ben – full on turquoise – saunters past me with a cocky grin. I admire his confidence.) became so much more poignant and meaningful.
Oskar: Fine. I’ll be olive. Peaceful.
Me: You remember what my colors mean.
Oskar: I remember everything you tell me, Marco.
I also loved how central family is in this story. Both families were so intertwined and I loved how present they were in each other’s lives. I loved the way Marco was like a cool older brother to Oskar’s sister Zoe, and I adored that Oskar would spend time with Marco’s grandfather. I thought the play that the families were working on sounded horribly cheesy at first but I quickly changed my mind as it wove yet another layer into the story.
My skin is stained with past pain. The boy who made me feel every inch of its ugliness is the man who’s kissing me like I might still be beautiful.
If you haven’t already guessed, it’s a very slow burn between old friends who have to overcome a deep betrayal to get to their HEA. A lot of hurt had festered between them over the years and it took time and forgiveness to regain that lost trust. This book is not about UST or overdue hookups and for once I’m glad for it.
True Colors isn’t perfect – after I finished, I realized that there were several years during which they still lived next door to each other while their families mistakenly assumed they were still BFFs – and I briefly considered rating it 4.5 because of it. But honestly, this was such an all-consuming read that I honestly couldn’t care less about those missing years. If you’re familiar with the author’s work, this book is reminiscent of Rock. And if you’re not familiar with it, well, then I happily recommend both books.
A bit about me: I’m a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. I love to read and write stories with characters who slowly fall in love.
Some of my favorite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, GFY/OFY, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, Love Has No Boundaries.
I write a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy.
Since 2014, I’m also part of CritShop Literary Services, specializing in writing workshops and editorial services for LGBT fiction.
I’m a member of Romance Writers of America.
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.