Title: Read My Lips
Series: A College Obsession Romance
Author: Daryl Banner
Publication Date: June 5th, 2016
Shelves: New Adult; Contemporary; Romance; Disability; College
Format: Kindle Edition (265 pages)
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 2 stars
I ran away from the glitz and privilege of my famous New York City family to this small-town Texas college to find myself. I didn’t expect to find him…
…the muscular, tatted bad-boy who would soon become my obsession.
He was broken, lost, and voiceless… just like me.
His eyes smoldered me with one look. His touch awakened the woman inside me.
And through his lips, his perfect, plush, kissable lips, he drew out the inspiration deep in my soul I did not know was there.
I needed to believe that he could save me. I wanted him to help me find my voice at last … the voice that would set me apart from my tragically perfect family, the voice that would finally break me free…
If only he could hear a word of it.
“The one person who I want to hear that song can’t hear anything.”
“I hear you.”
Eager to live a normal life as a college student away from her famous and successful theatre family, Desdemonda Lebeau leaves New York and enrols at Klangburg, a small university in Texas, and attempts to keep her true identity a secret while she studies theatre. Introducing herself to Clayton Watts at a party, she is left feeling embarrassed when he ignores her attempt at conversation. But she is mortified when he catches her singing in what she thought was an empty auditorium. After drowning her sorrows at the local pub, Dessie gets up on the mic to sing, but this time when she sees Clayton across the bar, she decides to sing for him. But it’s not until after she returns to her friends that she discovers that Clayton is in fact deaf, and hasn’t heard a note of her song.
I discovered this novel while searching through Amazon for some low price ebooks, and this gorgeous cover caught my eye! But I will admit that I was slightly disappointed with this novel. I feel that the cover and the synopsis don’t really fit with the novel’s actual content. With the synopsis’ fixation on obsession combined with that book cover, I was expecting a much darker NA novel à la Elliot Wake, but that isn’t what I got from Read My Lips at all.
So… Dessie. I just did not like her for a large portion of the novel. Her behaviour in the beginning of the novel was so embarrassing I had to put the book down numerous times because it was unbearable to read! I also think the whole obsession aspect of this novel wasn’t really well done. Dessie becomes obsessed with Clayton after seeing him once during class, and I thought her swooning over him was quite childish at times. Another reason I struggled to like this character is because she comes across as kind of ungrateful. She moves away from home so she can be independent and have a normal student-experience, but she spends a lot of the time complaining about it (her room, the shared bathroom, the people around her, the campus). I was struggling to muster up any sympathy for her in regards to her being the supposed black sheep of her talented and successful family, simply because she was so annoying! I mean don’t get me wrong, it’s entirely normal for college students to moan about their lives 24/7 (me), but I’d rather not read about this incredibly privileged girl moan about her dorm and her roommate…
But that’s not to say she was all bad. When she discovers Clayton is deaf, she learns basic ASL so she can properly introduce herself to him which I thought was really sweet. She becomes more likeable (and becomes less self-centred) as the novel progresses, and her struggles with her theatre class were also fun to read about. It was nice to see her overcome the issues she had with acting and her low self-esteem.
Clayton was a character I liked much more. He’s very career-focused and hard-working, with dreams of becoming a theatre light designer. I feel that we get more insight into his character than we do with Dessie, and of course that helps when trying to understand a character’s feelings and behaviours. There’s some reflection on Clayton’s life when he first became deaf aged twelve, and the impact his disability had on him as a pre-teen which helps us to understand why he is the way he is in the present (stand-offish, distant, doesn’t talk much). He also has anger issues which stem from his difficult teenage years, though I don’t think this was delved into as much as it could have been. He holds everyone around him at arms length, and watching him slowly open up to others was really nice to see – especially toward his best friend, who has known him almost all his life.
The plot I have mixed feelings about, because after realising that it wasn’t going down this dark, obsessive route I was anticipating, I found the novel’s plot to be just another typical NA college-romance novel. It’s very theatre-centred which I wasn’t really interested in outside of Dessie’s acting troubles, and I found myself skipping a lot of the early theatre-related paragraphs to get to the more entertaining content of Dessie’s relationships with her friends, family, and Clayton. There were also a couple things in the novel that were touched upon but not fully explored which was disappointing. There is mention of Clayton’s ex-girlfriend who apparently left him so “ruined” that he stopped having relationships with anyone else until Dessie came along. I was left wondering what the full story was there, because it doesn’t go any further than that. I just expected more, honestly.
Read My Lips was a cute read and I’m glad I stuck with it. I understand that the author’s idea was to create a story about two young people trying to find their voice amidst people’s prejudgements and misconceptions of them (and that message definitely comes across), but I was slightly disappointed with this novel overall.
Would you read this novel again? No, but I will read the next novel in the series.
Who would I recommend this novel to? Readers who love college romances, and like all things theatre-related. Readers looking for a novel with a deaf MC.