Thu
Oct 12 2017 2:30pm

Pema Donyo’s Stars in Their Eyes is the Bee’s Knees

Stars in Their Eyes by Pema Donyo

Pema Donyo's Stars In Their Eyes is a beautifully written gem and bonus, it stars an Asian-American heroine as the lead. This historical novella takes place in the 1920s and follows the story of an Asian American actress Iris Wong, and the aspiring Caucasian writer boyfriend, Owen Matthews, she had in the United States. Owen had dreams of moving to Paris to hopefully find more work and get his name out to more influential people. Iris and Owen break up as he heads to Paris and she resigns herself to small roles such as the housekeeper or helper of the main character. Fast-forward a few years later and she has moved to Paris herself in search of more starring roles. Currently, she is working for a director named Pierre in a starring role for the lead actress focusing on an Asian-American heroine who doesn’t succumb to stereotypes of Asian women. It’s a role with meat and will show her acting prowess, one that doesn’t have her reenacting negative and hurtful stereotypes.

Little does she know that the screenwriter is none other than Owen, her ex. A man she knew she’d never see again. Yet fate has brought them together again. Try as they might they are still very attracted to each other and can’t resist one another even though time and cultural differences threaten their renewed relationship.

Honestly, I loved this little story, never wanting it to end. It touched upon some real themes that I wished the author would go further into, especially the racial pieces. Yet, as this is a novella, there isn’t enough time to fully explore the themes. But what is done for the time allotted is beautiful. The steam is quite low in this novella, one that I might categorize as “behind closed doors” but the tension and chemistry never wavered. I still had the chills and feels that I normally experience with novels that are more brazen in the intimacy scenes. All testaments to how beautiful the story was and how I was completely invested in the story of Iris and Owen.

And while some of the writing might seem “simple,” it’s in that simplicity I found brilliance. Sure there are more complex beautiful passages, but it’s how Donyo combines the writing that is brilliant.

The wind pressed cool against their cheeks, and the thin sheen of sweat dotting his face faded away. Outside the chaos of the cabaret, the dips and rises of the brass instruments’ song from inside grew dim. He faced her, leaning against the railing as she stared at him from the other side of the balcony.

I adore this passage. It’s the first time they see each other again in many years and already I feel the intensity and the loveliness of the passage, of the main characters.

When they first touch one another the feels course through my body.

She reached forward and interlocked her fingers with his. Their palms pressed together. The shock of her smooth skin on his felt foreign, almost surreal. He searched her expression for an explanation. It had been a long time since they’d last held hands. They fit well together. They always had.

He wanted to leap with joy. There was a chance for him even among the Pierres of the world. The warmth of her touch spread through his arms and filled his chest. He brought her toward him and wrapped his arms tightly around her. Could she hear how hast his heart was beating? How he’d missed this. Her soft skin pressed against hid made his heart race.

It’s the falling in love again that is relayed so perfectly. And I fell in love with them both as they both tried to salvage what they once had.

He tried to memorize her image. She looked so fine standing before him in the alcove, staring at him beneath her full lashes.

Yes, I so enjoyed this book. Especially as it has an Asian American heroine without the use of stereotypes. If you’re looking for a breath of fresh air, try Stars in their Eyes. I loved it, maybe because of where I’m at in life and how it mirrored mine (slightly). Regardless, the love story is one we can all appreciate, regardless of our background.

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H&H Editor Picks:

Pema Donyo Excerpt: Stars in Their Eyes

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Tanya is a fanatic of all things romance, dabbles in Happily Ever Afters under the pen name of Lily Kay, and teaches sociology part-time. You can follow her on twitter @tamushamu, @AuthorLilyKay, or on facebook.com/Authorlilykay.

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