A Stella Review: DEAD RINGER by Heidi Belleau and Sam Schooler


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

DeadRinger_600x900Brandon Ringer has a dead man’s face. His grandfather, silver-screen heartthrob James Ringer, died tragically at twenty-one, and Brandon looks exactly like him. But that’s where the resemblance ends. Brandon is unknown, unemployed, and up to his ears in bills after inheriting his grandparents’ Hollywood mansion. He refuses to sell it—it’s his last connection to his grandmother—so to raise the cash he needs, he joins a celebrity look-alike escort agency.

Percy Charles is chronically ill, isolated, and lonely. His only company is his meddlesome caregiver and his collection of James Ringer memorabilia. When he finds “Jim Ringer” on Hollywood Doubles’ website, he books an appointment, hoping to meet someone who shares his passion for his idol.

Brandon? Not that person.

But despite their differences, they connect, and Percy’s fanboy love for James shows Brandon a side of his grandfather he never knew. Soon they want time together off the clock, but Percy is losing his battle for independence, and Brandon feels trapped in James’s long shadow. Their struggle to love each other is the stuff of classic Hollywood. Too bad Brandon knows how those stories end.

Don’t let you be misled by the old cliche rentboy plus rich boy equals HEA. There are all of these three elements in Dead Ringer ( and I admit I wanted to read it just for this), but so much more too.

I heard a lot of things about Heidi Belleau but I haven’t read anything by her and Sam Schooler was totally new to me. Since I’m always looking for new authors I was so ready to rush through it. Of course what caught my attention first was the cover, I was pretty much drooling in front of the PC.

What I particularly liked in this book were the characters, Brandon and Percy both took my heart because they are too young to be already so broken.

Brandon is 19 years old, he has just inherited his grandmother Dahlia’s mansion and having no job, he’s swamped with bills to pay. Point is Dahlia was the only person in Brandon life to care for him, she took him into her house when he was thrown out by his parents and living on the streets for some time. He’s ready to do anything to keep her house. He’s not new to the rent boy job so when he finds out about an escort service called Hollywood Double, being the spitting image of his famous grandfather, he soon decides to join them as the James Ringer doppelganger. This will be nothing as what he was used to be on the street and with the help of great people he will try to save himself and his new pricey home. And his job will take him to the lonely life of a sweet young man.

Percy is 21 years old, he is affected by a juvenile type of arthritis that forces him to live as a recluse in his parents’ big house, steadily under control of his caretaker. He has no friends because he believes no one would stick with his struggles with his disease. He feels he’s a burden for his parents who pretty much ignore him and he is totally resigned to be alone with people who treat him as a disabled person, forbidding Percy to do even the easiest daily things. He’s sick of being obedient and in a moment of rebellion, he hires his favorite actor’s double, unaware his choice will give his lonely life an unbelievable turning point.

Brandon and Percy’s is a beautiful story, thoughtful and crowded with emotions. But it’s not just theirs, it’s James Ringer’s story too. It’s a believable journey in the discovery of a undisclosed past, essential to Brandon to start his new life.

I liked Dead Ringer a lot, it kept me glued to my kindle till the end but my rating stops at just 4 stars because at first I found it a little hard to get into the book, even if later I was able to appreciate the initial slower pace as a way to know the MCs better. Moreover I was left with some doubts about Percy’s caretaker and her behaviour.

I want to talk a little about the double point of view Heidi and Sam chose to use. I’m not sure if each author wrote a specific character or if they simply mixed ideas and words but what it came out, what I felt and loved, was a real difference in the writing that amazed me. Maybe it was intentional, maybe it was just my feeling, both Brandon and Percy were very delineated and characterized, each of them with a specific writing style. It’s not easy to find point of views so well done, moreover with a co-authored book, it was a surprise because often it happens that the characters sound the same. Not in this case.

Last thing, I want suggest the authors to please consider the idea of a “spinoff ” about Nolan, he brought peace into the chaos that was Brandon’s life. I’d love to read his story!

Cover art by L.C. Chase and COVER PHOTO by Dion Marc and Marisha Dudek. Really really good!

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing  |  All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here


ebook, 453 pages
Published October 26th 2015 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN 1626493375
Edition Language English

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