Reel by Kennedy Ryan
06/08/2021 Self Published
Review by Melinda
Reel is a story that at first I had difficulty putting my finger on what time period it was taking place in, and I think that was because the story felt timeless, something that I loved about this book. When Neevah is cast as the star in a new biopic that Canon Holt is directing, everything changes for her. We can tell from the beginning that both Neevah and Canon are passionate people. Canon is a famous director who’d been searching for the person to cast in his film for the last 6 months and when he sees Neevah on Broadway he instantly knows she’s the right person for the role. The chemistry between these two truly sizzled from almost the first moment they meet.
The subplot of the movie they’re involved in adds extra layers and I adored the way it was woven throughout the main storyline. In the audiobook it was voiced by a third narrator, which added so much depth to the experience. Canon is so passionate about this project which is about Dessi Blue, a talented Black jazz singer no one has really heard of, and they put everything into researching the topic for the film, There’s an author’s note that notes she is not a real person but taken from multiple people’s history but Kennedy’s passion for this topic shines through. Black history is so often hidden – on purpose – and Canon, and then Neevah, are thrilled to be taking this on.
Side note that the audiobook is amazing. I’ve listened to many of Kennedy Ryan’s audiobooks and whenever I hear Jakobi Diem’s voice I associate it with a Kennedy Ryan story now, and Eboni Flowers was wonderful as Neevah. The subplot of the movie was voiced by a third narrator, Nicole Small, who added so much depth to the experience. And when we get glimpses of Dessi’s past there is actual singing, performed by April Christina, and the first time it happened I got goosebumps, it made the experience and the entire book come to life, I loved it so much.
Kennedy Ryan has a talent for writing relationships with such longing and intensity that makes a person just ache for the characters she writes. Neevah and Canon begin a secret sexual relationship, not wanting anyone to know about them while they work together. And phew, the sexual tension between these two was so intense! But Neevah has also been managing her Lupus for a long time naturally and it comes to a major breaking point with a medical emergency while filming.
Reading about these two managing her illness, hospitals, and important decisions really hit me hard because I’ve been in a very similar situation. Obviously not during the filming of a major movie though lol! Kennedy did a brilliant job of bringing this to life with such heart, all the while still keeping heat and laughter. I normally won’t even read books with this kind of plot setup, but honestly I loved it. I definitely cried during the last half of the book. There was a lot of drama but not too much drama. The HEA felt like it was hard fought for and well-deserved by the end.
CW: medical illness (Lupus), hospitals, racism