Summary (from the publisher):
In her senior year at NYU, Riley Hope appears to be on top of the world. With a loving mother who makes Lorelai Gilmore look like a parenting slacker, ride-or-die friends, and a long-time boyfriend destined for the National Hockey League, she puts on a smile for the world. But behind it, she’s drowning. Racked with fears for the future, she battles to stay afloat amid life in the shadows of a heartbreaking illness.
And then, Ben Fagan comes crashing into her life. Twenty-three-years-old, British, and alone in the Big Apple after a disastrous pilot season in LA, the struggling actor is looking for an escape: booze, mischief, sex—minimum commitment, maximum fun—anything to avoid returning across the pond.
As they form an unlikely bond, Riley keeps her reality from Ben so that he remains a happy refuge. But how long can she hold back the truth…and is Ben keeping his own secrets, too?but Until the Last Star Fades
My Rating: 3/5 Stars
Jacquelyn Middleton’s Until the Last Star Fades had been on my TBR since 2018. I read London Belongs to Me back in 2017 and really enjoyed its London setting and emphasis on fandom. Until the Last Star Fades features some cameos from London Belongs to Me and London, Can You Wait?. I have not yet read this sequel and don’t think you need to read either book to read this book, but you will run into minor spoilers from that series.
Until the Last Star Fades follows soon-to-be NYU gradating senior Riley and her life after her meet-cute with Ben, a British actor who’s had no luck finding acting jobs in the States. The book follows their evolving relationship against the many setbacks that they are both experiencing. Told in the third person, the book mainly follows Riley’s perspective with a few scattered chapters from Ben.
Until the Last Star Fades was a much heavier read than I had anticipated. I admit that I hadn’t really re-acquainted myself with its synopsis before picking it up, but much of the plot revolves around Riley’s mom’s battle with cancer. I really appreciate Jacquelyn’s honest and emotion-filled depiction of Maggie’s illness and the struggles both her and Riley experience, but it may be a triggering reading experience for readers who have been in a similar situation. In between being there for her mom, finishing up college, hanging with friends, and working two jobs, and yes, developing her relationship with Ben, there is also a lot of discussion about Riley’s smiling depression. Jacquelyn Middleton sheds light on some hard issues and situations.
However, I struggled with Until the Last Star Fades’ writing style and Ben & Riley’s relationship. The book is mainly told from the third perspective, but there was always at least two moments per chapter where the font became italicized and we got the character’s first-person thoughts. I feel like a lot of these moments could have been just told from the third perspective. Until the Last Star Fades is around 470 pages down and although I appreciate its plot and character development, it really could have been a lot shorter. I’m always for a fluffy contemporary and while there are some hard-hitting moments, particularly when it came to Riley’s mom, I just felt like Ben and Riley were too cheery with each other sometimes (especially when they’re in relationship mode). A lot of their romantic dialogue felt almost too ‘happily ever,’ and made them seem a bit two dimensional and predictable? I liked the romance scenes, but again, occupied by too much of the ‘perfect’ dialogue.
I also just wasn’t a Ben fan. He lies to Riley on more than one occasion and I feel like she shouldn’t have accepted his excuses so easily. As soon as Ben offers to help Riley’s family out in what is arguably the biggest way possible (sorry for the unspecifity but watching out for spoilers), I knew that it would take a lot for Ben and Riley’s relationship to end at all. I wasn’t a fan of Josh either- Riley’s boyfriend in the beginning of the book- and despite the hardship in her life, she was with him for all the wrong reasons.
My favorite thing about Until the Last Star Fades was its NYC setting! As someone who spends a lot of time there, I think Jacquelyn Middleton really nailed it. I especially loved Ben’s job at the Broadway-inspired diner, and Riley’s adventures with her friends Piper and Casey felt very real and authentic to college city living.
Overall, Until the Last Star Fades wasn’t the romance read for me, and I’m definitely disappointed it wasn’t. I struggled with the writing and the characters. It never really crossed my mind to DNF it because I really did love the setting and details and was hoping the book would turn around for me. I could see myself picking up other books by Jacquelyn Middleton only if the synopsis seems to really grab me.
Have you read Until the Last Star Fades? Have you read London Belongs to Me or London, Can You Wait? ? Share in the comments!