Series: True Colors, #2
Release Date: July 6th, 2021
Jasper Quigley is tired of being everyone’s favorite sidekick. He wants to become the hero of his own life, but that’s not going to happen if he agrees to help out his former best friend turned king of the jocks, Milo Lionetti. High school was miserable enough, thanks, and Jasper has no interest in dredging up painful memories of his old secret crush.
But Milo’s got nowhere else to go. His life is spiraling out of control and he’s looking to turn things back around. Step one? Replace the rare Odyssey cards he lost in an idiotic bet. Step two? Tell his ex-best-friend exactly how he feels—how he’s always felt.
Jasper may be reluctant to reopen old wounds, but he never could resist Milo. There’s a catch, though: if Milo wants his help, he’s going to have to pitch in to make the upcoming children’s hospital charity ball the best ever. But as the two don cosplay for the kids and hunt for rare cards, nostalgia for their lost friendship may turn into something even more lasting…
This is my first Annabeth Albert book and I adored it so much! I didn’t expect to get attached to these characters, but once I started reading, I was sucked into Jasper and Milo’s life so hard that I couldn’t put the book down.
“Forget hoping I wasn’t falling too hard for him. No, I was falling soft, landing in a vat of cotton candy, all sticky and sweet.”
Jasper and Milo were once best friends, they grew up together and did almost everything together. Till Milo became a jock and got popular, then he started pushing Jasper away. See, Milo’s friends didn’t understand anything about Jasper and being openly gay hadn’t made that easier either. So instead of defending his friend, Milo made it worse by ruining their friendship. And Jasper went on to dislike and probably even hate Milo, while Milo went on to struggle through life while hating himself for what he did to Jasper. Fast forward to a few years later and Milo now needs Jasper’s help and it’s going to cost Milo everything, but for once, he believes its worth it.
Out of Character is a book filled with nerd references and would be perfect for almost anyone who plays and enjoys tabletop RPGs. It’s a world that I’m vaguely aware of, but absolutely fascinated by. Jasper and his friends are part of a group that plays Odyssey, and Milo has just gone and lost the precious cards from his big brother’s collection. And the only person he knows that can help him is Jasper.
Their reunion is tense and awkward and both Milo and Jasper are grasping at straws to not snap or say something they’ll regret. They’ve done that enough over to last them a lifetime. On the surface, they both look like they totally have everything together, but the truth is much worse. There’s something driving both of them together and they’re covering it up with easy things, because clearly that’s the smarter thing to do than to talk about what is really happening.
“And I didn’t ever want to be the one who dimmed that light inside him, that light that I couldn’t get enough of. Even now, it wasn’t only kisses I was counting down to, but simply getting a slice of that attention and energy. Forget spring. It was his warmth I wanted to bask in, even if meant risking getting burned.”
While there’s trauma that these boys have to overcome, there’s also so much love. Milo and Jasper aren’t the same kids they once were and seeing those differences in each other really ups the way they feel about each other. Jasper’s always liked Milo and it’s not been much of a secret, but Milo’s feelings for Jasper are spiralling out of control and he’s afraid that it’s going to hurt them both. But the slow and gradual way they come together, the soft love they share and the absolutely pure relationship that builds is really the crux of this story.
I love how dorky they get together and how funny they were as individuals, but also as friends and a couple. Jasper is a nerd through and through, while Milo’s always been the jock, but I love how there’s just so much more to the two of them. Jasper is always going to be a nerd, but he’s so soft and sweet; while Milo has left his jock life behind and his artistic skills are coming to the surface. I wish we could have seen all of the pieces of art he did, because they sounded so good and so beautiful. They fall in love through cosplay, through Odyssey and through trips down memory lane – all of which is so special and so wonderfully crafted in this story.
One of my favourite things about this story was Jasper teaching Milo about sex. While this is a closed-door romance, more or less, there’s enough to get your imagination running. They’re exploring each other, learning things that the other likes and the whole time, Jasper is guiding Milo. It was so well done and I loved the innocence and the strength the characters shared in that moment.
This book made me feel so much and I am so glad that I got a chance to read it, because it filled me up with so much joy. I am now desperate to read Conventionally Yours because after meeting Conrad and Alden, I know that I need their story in my life too.
Thanks to Annabeth Albert, Sourcebooks Casablanca & NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.