Freestyle by Bea Paige (Academy of Stardom #1)

Freestyle


Freestyle
by Bea Paige

Reverse Harem/Contemporary Romance/New Adult/Crime/Mystery/Academy/Friends to Enemies to Lovers

337 Pages

Published 7th June 2020

Purchase from | Amazon AU | Amazon UK | Amazon US  | Book Depository* | Fishpond AU* | Dymocks | Bookshop.org | Off The Book Pages |

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My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Pen’s life has been anything but easy, even from a young age the only thing that kept her going was dance. Dance also brought four boys into her life when she needed them the most. It kept them sane, together and out of trouble…at least, it used to. The one thing that held them together, failed Pen at aged sixteen, when they left her without a backwards glance or asking even asking the question “why?”. Now three years later Pen won a scholarship to the Academy of Stardom, this is everything she ever dreamed of, but how is she supposed to focus on her dreams when the four boys who tore her heart apart are back, only now as men. Pen has to push through the heartache even when they refuse to walk away, her dreams depend on her not stuffing this up, but turning away from them won’t be as easy as she hopes it will.

I picked up this book from one of the many book groups I’m in on Facebook. I can’t remember exactly what this book was recommended for, whether it was gritty, dark, reverse harem, or any other number of things, but man, am I glad I stumbled across that post! I think I was only about 20% into this book when I purchased the following three so that I had the whole series sitting on my kindle waiting for me to power through them, and power through them I did.

The story line in this was heart wrenching and absolutely amazing and I am struggling to find the words to explain how it made me feel. It tore my heart apart, it made me almost frenzied with anticipation and it made me smile so wide I thought my face would break. We first meet Pen Scott when she’s at the academy to audition for the scholarship, and I knew I loved her character straight away. She’s strong, hardened by trauma, driven and beautifully flawed. I love characters who are made more real because of their flaws, all of the characters in this story had their flaws and it made them stand straight up off the page and feel as though they were real people. Their depth and dimension was so well written that I feel like I know them personally, and their personalities all shine through as pure individualities which I absolutely loved. I have so many thoughts rushing through my head to try and write this review because I honestly just loved this whole series so much that I don’t know where to begin. I think that’s why I put off writing this review for so long.

The story itself is told through alternating timelines. The first is present day when Pen is 20 years old and she’s starting at the dance academy. The second is when Pen first meets her Breakers at age…fourteen? I’m pretty sure she was fourteen when she first met Zayn, right through until the fateful night where her heart was shredded, along with theirs. The depth of the story that Paige told through this book and it’s following instalments was so beautiful, heartbreaking and raw and I am here for it. The things that Pen ends up involved in, some of them made my chest ache for the pain she was going through. As she bared her soul to try and make the boys she loved understand why she did what she did just made me angst with her, the anticipation of what I knew had to be coming just about killed me, but I loved every second of it.

It was actually quite funny, as I was reading through this series, a certain character is mentioned, in the first book actually; and it made me realise that I actually already had a series by Bea Paige sitting on my kindle which I had won in a Facebook competition. That series is set in the same world as this one and the characters make small cameo appearances which I thought was fantastic! I’m dying to read that series next as I enjoyed this one so much and I’m hoping that it’s just as amazing! I’ve also kind of been holding off on reading too, I think because I loved this series so much, I want to prolong the anticipation of reading yet another great series from Paige. Honestly, this series was one of those ones I wish I could experience for the first time again, and that’s saying something, because it’s rare to find a book like that letalone an entire series.

I feel like I’m rambling incoherently at the moment. The narration was beautifully done and the flow and lyrical feel of the words made this book and series an absolute page turner. I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next. The relationship development from teenagers through to their present day selves was done so beautifully. These characters all hold serious flaws and it just made the character growth and the relationship development that much more enjoyable to read. Initially I found it hard trying to picture the dance sequences, of which there are many, but after a little while my brain just found a way to translate what I was reading on the page into what it might look like in my head. I did google a couple of things so I could actually have a proper idea on what it looked like – Bachata was one of them. I’d not seen this style of dance before and it is so beautiful to watch.

Something else that I absolutely adored about this series, was the heavy reliance on music. In the beginning of each book Paige has a short playlist of songs that influenced certain scenes which are then mentioned in those subsequent scenes as well. I loved this so much as music is such a huge part of my life (and also my muse as an aspiring author), I found so many new amazing songs that I had not heard before and they’ve been added to my own playlists because I just enjoyed them all so much. So not only was this a great story, it also showed me music that I hadn’t come across before, which is absolutely amazing in my eyes.

I honestly don’t know what else I can say about this story. I feel like I haven’t said enough, but in the same instance I feel like I’m just rambling because I have so many thoughts and it’s so hard to try and put them down in a coherent way. So I’ll leave you with this: If you love reverse harem, enjoy contemporary romance, love strong, flawed characters who feel like they’re walking next to you they’re that real; love a gritty story that sees the characters go through many trials and tribulations before they read that HEA, then do yourself a favour and pick this series up. It’s up there as one of my favourites I think, and that also says a lot because it’s contemporary which I don’t generally read. Look, just read the book, okay?

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