Release Date: June 24th, 2021
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One unforgettable summer.
When you’re an artist, everything has to be perfect.
Or so I thought, until my professor told me my perfection was boring and unoriginal. Studying abroad in Florence has taught me one thing: I know nothing when it comes to what makes art truly beautiful.
So, with my professor’s words in my ear, I step outside one evening and decide to say yes to any and everything I’m faced with until the sun rises.
Of course, I didn’t expect him to show up.
Liam Benson, the broody, sexy, tortured artist from my class who I can’t stand. He’s got a sour outlook on the world and an ego so big no one could properly stroke it to his satisfaction.
When he finds out what I’m doing, he hijacks my “yes” night.
And after just twelve hours with him, I’m desperate for more.
But Liam is running from more than I could ever understand, and with his heart guarded and mind made up about life, I don’t stand a chance.
I convince myself that we can keep it casual.
But walking away from him at the end of the summer is as impossible as painting outside the lines.
I used to think when you’re an artist, everything has to be perfect.
Turns out everything has to be painful, and messy, and fleeting.
If only I’d known that before I fell under Liam Benson’s spell.
I think there needs to be a genre that is specifically designated for Kandi Steiner’s books, because this one was absolutely beautiful. Kandi is a master weaver when it comes to telling stories that hook you right from the start and Say Yes was no different. You’ll feel all the feels, find your soul sister in Harley Chambers and wish you could go back to the 90s and redo your life all over again. Honestly speaking, I never imagined I would miss the 90s as much as I did while reading this book, but that’s another thing Kandi is really good at making you feel – nostalgic.
“You brought color to my life, Harley. Not just color, but a fiery glow. A meaning. A purpose.”
Through Say Yes, we get to go back to Europe (Close Quarters also took us to parts of Europe!) with 22-year-old Harley Chambers as she works through an art course in Florence. But it’s not just a coming of age story, it’s so much more than watching Harley fall in love for the first time and discover herself. Harley’s already discovered parts of herself, but this story shows how sometimes all you need is to have someone else see you for you to truly believe in yourself. Born with symbrachydactyly, Harley’s always been known as the girl with the small hand. People have been sympathetic towards her and felt bad for her, but Harley’s never needed that. She’s always pushed ahead and found ways to make her life work for her. Harley’s never let anything or anyone hold her back from the life she wants. Which is how she gets to Florence, even though her parents want her to take on a boring accounting job that she has no interest in.
“Perfection, in my life, had always been celebrated.”
Harley’s a perfectionist, which stems from her wanting to show people that she can do everything and anything and do it well. And the perfectionist side of her curbs her creativity to an extent and this hit home really hard, because I’m like this 100% of the time. But the events of the story makes her see that being perfect doesn’t mean have to hide who she really is and that becomes her motto through the story, because she steps out of her comfort zone and she tries new things and she finds that there really is more to life than she thought.
And that’s where Liam Benson comes in. Another thing Kandi writes really well is swoony heroes. While Liam might annoy the hell out of Harley with his blase attitude, it’s clear that he’s not really the person he pretends to be. He’s charming, he’s sexy and he’s an older man (28 to her 22); and all of those things infuriate and excite her in equal measure. But when Liam shows up at the perfect moment, Harley takes that as a sign. They go on an adventure that opens up Harley’s eyes and she starts to see the world and herself differently. And through Liam’s eyes and his words and his actions, Harley finds a way to appreciate herself more than she thought possible.
“I think if you want people to start seeing the real you, you’ve got to see her first. You have to accept and love your hand so that others can, too. And you have to see who you are despite it.” He shrugged. “Maybe you need a fresh look. To see it through someone else’s eyes.”
Their love story is the crux of the book, but Harley’s road to self-discovery and acceptance is just as much a focus. I loved Harley so much because she was overcoming so many things all at once, coming to terms with her life and choices, but also growing into her skin slowly and steadily. It’s so rare to watch the main character grow as you read the book and I fell in love with the woman that Harley became by the end of the story.
Say Yes had the perfect amount of angst to soothe my soul too, which was everything that I wanted from a Kandi Steiner book. This story goes onto my list as one of my favourite Kandi Steiner love stories and I can’t wait for more!
Thanks to Kandi Steiner and Valentine PR for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.