Home Book Review: Once More with Feeling by Elissa Sussman

Book Review: Once More with Feeling by Elissa Sussman

by Bookworm Liz

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

The Plot Thickens…

Many years ago, our main character was known as Katee Rose: international pop superstar, in the vein of Britney Spears. She was beloved and at the height of her fame until it all came crashing down. Just one stolen night with her boyfriend’s bandmate – Cal – was all it took to implode her career, her relationship and her reputation.

Now, she’s living a simpler life as Kathleen Rosenberg (her real name). She’s removed from the spotlight. She hasn’t had a reason to be featured in the tabloids for years. And she’s happy about that. At least for the most part.

There is, however, one dream that she left unfulfilled: to be a Broadway star.

She can think of no one better to fulfill this dream alongside than with her BFF Harriet, who’s just written a musical that’s destined for Broadway.

Even though the leading role was written specifically with Kathleen in mind, she’ll need to get buy-in from the director before getting cast. The director? Oh yeah, he just so happens to be Cal, the guy from the love affair that decimated her career all of those years ago.

Ever since the fall-out of that cheating scandal, Kathleen and Cal can’t stand each other. Each time they’re in the same room, there’s so much tension in the air that eventually erupts into a fight. At the same time, they can’t help but feel like maybe there is something besides hatred still burning within them.

My Thoughts…

I’m a big fan of Elissa Sussman’s writing. She crafts stories that are fun and pop-culture centric, with a witty style and characters that can banter like nobody’s business.

This book is her second novel that explores the “trope” of second chance romance. Unfortunately, I didn’t care for Once More with Feeling as much as I did her adult debut, Funny You Should Ask.

With that being said, there’s still a lot to love here. The dual timelines are expertly paced and woven together. Sussman truly has a talent for crafting flashback scenes that slowly peel apart the layers of the couple’s dynamics. In Kathleen and Cal’s case, the slowly building love affair from their younger years added heat and anticipation to their scenes together in the present day.

Ultimately, the lower star rating is because I had such difficulty rooting for the main character. Kathleen Rosenberg, as a main character, really tanked my enjoyment of the book overall. For a story that’s largely about redemption and second chances at its core, I feel it’s important to show significant character growth by the end of the novel – something I feel Kathleen ultimately did not rise to.

Read This If:

  • You’re a musical theater nerd (this descriptor is used as a term of endearment, trust me… I’m a musical theater nerd, too!)
  • You believe in second chances… in life, in career, and in love
  • You don’t mind reading about a selfish main character (I mean, hey – we’re all flawed, right?)

PS. How incredible are the covers for Elissa Sussman’s books? Kasi Turpin, you have my heart.

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