Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2
How many of us play a part? We look at various situations and make assumptions about the types of behaviors and reactions necessary for that situation. When we do this, however, we move further away from our organic self and closer to the expectations of others. This can cause problems: we can struggle to “be real,” and we can set up walls against people we’d like to know better. This is the truth behind Stella Weaver’s Sticking to the Script.
I hate putting labels on books, but I know readers want to know the “type” of book. Stella Weaver’s book is an MM romantic comedy of sorts. It tells the story of Dr. Ken Miles and Steven Thompson. Steven is the VP of finance for Cipher Systems, a security firm. He accompanies his friend, Elizabeth, a colleague of Dr. Miles, to a retirement party. Elizabeth introduces Steven and Ken, and Steven is instantly drawn to him while Ken looks disinterested and acts socially awkward. Steven notes that Ken looks as though he is “putting on” a persona but doesn’t think anything of it.
On the contrary, Dr. Ken Miles finds himself attracted to Steven. He feels as though Steven sees the real him. This both unnerves him and attracts him to Steven. What Steven and Ken don’t know is that the other man is looking for a long-term relationship. Steven has tried the momentary dalliances, while Ken has made work a priority that he has had very little time for relationships. Additionally, while Steven identifies as gay, Ken identifies as bisexual. At first, Steven doesn’t realize this, and he fails to see Ken’s attraction to him. Thinking he is asking Steven on a date, Ken views them as dating, while Steven believes they are hanging out as friends. After some confusion, the two finally recognize their attraction to each other and begin to act upon it. Unfortunately, complications arise, and the future seems uncertain for their coupledom. Will Dr. Ken and Steven find their “happily-ever-after?”
This isn’t my first MM book, but I haven’t read many of them. I’m always curious when an author decides to create a gay character and one who is bisexual. I’ve seen it in menage books more often than MM books. In the case of Sticking to the Script, Dr. Ken’s bisexuality causes a bit of trouble, and it tends to underscore the messiness of “looking the part”. While Ken doesn’t live closeted, what we find is he isn’t as forward with his bisexuality as he believes. This creates a “lost in translation” situation for him and Steven. I personally loved this tension because Weaver uses it to highlight how both Steven and Ken struggle to live their own truths.
Steven uses humor to distance himself from people, including Ken. He struggles with his attraction to Ken because he perceives that Ken is temporary, given his bisexuality and attractiveness. He fails so often in this story because he fails with vulnerability. It is only Ken’s love for him that finally allows him to open up to Ken and his friends. He protects himself well to a fault, and Weaver crafts him to be the person who is truly “sticking to the script” here even though she places those words beside Ken.
Quite frankly, Dr. Ken was my favorite character in this romance. Oh my goodness, he has the biggest heart, and it gets hidden by his social awkwardness. It’s adorable how he struggles to show Steven that he likes him and is dating him. It provides some of the funniest moments in the story. And he adores Steven even when Steven is mean to him. He’s protective, nurturing, and loves without conditions. And it’s so beautiful when he sees the very best in Steven, even when Steven doesn’t see it for himself. Yes, Dr. Ken is seemingly stuffy, but we find that he has an easy sense of humor. He is easily the most likeable person in this story.
Together, Ken and Steven are magic. Like most romances, these two have their growing pains, and they have to find a way back to each other. Yet, their stories are a reminder that we don’t have to “stick to the script.” We don’t need to act the part when we are in love with our soulmate. Instead, all we need to do is allow them to love us and all of our pieces, good and bad. Stella Weaver has woven a sweet tale in Sticking to the Script, one that will make you swoon all the way to the end.
In love and romance,