Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Everyone has their secrets.
Last year Digi walked out on Webcon, on his fans, and on Gram.
Now he’s back determined to give what they had a real shot, but Gram is more prickly than ever, not willing to risk his heart again.
Despite trying to stay out of the spotlight, the anonymous Public Service Announcements draw Digi back in. As the secrets of the internet’s top celebrities are leaked to the world, it’s only a matter of time before Digi and Gram are next.
To get through it, they have to set their rivalry aside.
Will Digi handle the pressure of the bright lights long enough to find who is tearing their world apart? Or will the threat of full exposure be too much for him to handle?
LGBTQ Enemies to Lovers Romance
Not Gonna Lie (#lovehim #4) by S.M. James is the tale I have been waiting for since I finished To Be Continued (#lovehim 3.5), the so aptly named novella and the first part of Digi and Gram’s story. At the end of that complex bit of storytelling, Digi walked away from everything, including Gram, in order to find himself after the escalating events of that story.
Now in Not Gonna Lie, we dive into back Gram and Digi’s lives a year later. It’s not exactly what we expected to find for both of them.
One thing I will mention immediately is the length of this story. It’s much longer than any other books in the series and because of that we get a story richer in layers, more plot threads throughout the novel, and on whole just a thoughtful, authentic, beautifully written story. James takes a deeply honest look into the “media culture” of vloggers and their fans, including the dark side of popularity and online mass bullying and attacks. If you’re familiar with beauty vlogger James Charles, who is people forget only 19, and the current morass he finds himself the center of, then this story will resonate with you. One minute you’re 18 and your yearbook photo goes viral, then you’re a star with a Cover Girl contract and a popular vlog at 18, and then a feud and the loss of millions of followers. All still at the age of 19. Such is the fickleness of the media and popularity and James gets it.
And makes it painful and intimately more real for us when we fall back into the lives of Gram and Digi.
What the blurb is not saying is why Digi is returning to Webcom and that is as big a part of this story as his reuniting with Gram. And yes, it has also to do with the media, and bullying in the worst way. Everything that Digi thought he was getting away from and had found him again. It’s hard to mention aspects of this story without giving away details that lead to spoilers because the blurb is so vague that I feel that anything I mention is a surprise and important element that the reader should find out for themselves.
There are so many large things here that S.M. James gets into because of the characters. It’s not just bullying and cyberbullying but also bulimia and eating disorders, something that Digi has been fighting for a long time (and was brought on in To Be Continued). Along with this in the story goes cutting and self harm, so if these are triggers for you, please sake note. Again, I will say that the longer length of the book gives the author the time to delve into the reasons behind such actions and the treatment received. It will make your heart hurt and hold out hope for others in Digi’s situation.
And still there’s more. Along with Gram and Digi reconnecting and working through a strained and tumultuous past history (along with their mothers competition as well), we also get a mystery, and the stress and strain of Gram’s new ever higher level popularity and the effects its having on him. And his crazy fans.
Oh the complexities of this amazing story and all the characters. Yes, still a romance and oh, so much more. A social commentary, and perhaps a subtle warning too.
After all the many stories I have been reading in this remarkable YA series, I wasn’t quite prepared for just how exceptional Not Gonna Lie (#lovehim #4) by S.M. James turned out to be. A beautiful continuation of Digi and Gram’s story from To Be Continued, a social commentary on the media, vloggers and the powers of popularity and its whims. And even more, the stress these days of just being young. That’s heartbreaking too.
So you can imagine how you feel when a romance posts a win, even a HFN, and it makes your heart soar. If only for a while. This is one you will want to read and cheer for the win.
I truly love all the stories that come with this series but this one? Oh, this one is really something exemplary. Pick up To Be Continued and then read it and Not Gonna Lie (#lovehim #4) by S.M. James together for an amazing reading experience. I highly recommend them and the entire series which I have listed below.
Cover art: Story Styling Cover Designs. Brands the series and works for this story.
Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited
Kindle Edition, 430 pages
Published May 16th 2019 by May Books
Edition Language English