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on 22 May 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It all seems like a fairy tale. The central character, Jeremy, gets to live with his wealthy relatives while his mother is in rehab.
A world with endless possibilities opens itself to the 17 year old handsome sporty boy, who begins a journey in discovering himself and piecing together his family history.
Fun, entertaining, witty, it is not easy to put the book down. If at times the story seems a bit rushed, the entertaining value makes up for it.
A thoroughly good read!
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
So far, so bad. Jeremy was two when his father Jonathan was killed. For the past fifteen years he has lived in squalor with an alcoholic mother now needing rehab. Suddenly salvation - an offer from Great Aunt Katharine to stay in her luxurious Californian home. Too good to be true? Could be. She loved his father as a son and determines to remould Jeremy in his image. Jeremy seems forever destined to be a puppet manipulated by others. Then there is the problem of his sexuality....

The novel's success owes much to the sheer likeability of Jeremy himself. Not only is he breathtakingly handsome but extraordinarily well-adjusted. Many would have gone astray in those appalling early years or had their heads turned when all at once surrounded by wealth. Incredibly he seems to take everything in his stride, except for that ever-increasing inner turmoil. Initially he is in denial he could be gay, but gradually comes awareness.

Characterization throughout is strong - nobody one dimensional, many capable of surprising. In fact, scarcely anyone is as they seem. His mother has more going for her than at first appears. Great Aunt Katharine, outwardly so formidable, has really never recovered from the loss of Jonathan. Schoolmates, too, are well depicted - Reed and Ellie with amusingly bitchy repartee, athletic Coby with a hidden agenda, gay Carlo coping well despite his scathing dad.

Even if this were all, the book would be a good read. But there is more, much more - a fine murder mystery! Villainy is afoot, and has been from the very first page. Jeremy himself could be an eventual target. Ahead lie major revelations. The grand climax a tad melodramatic? Perhaps so, but revenge is sweet and this one enormously satisfies.

Not all is perfect. The Pinocchio allusions at times seemed a little laboured (especially that "when you wish upon a star" connection). The main point works though. No puppet, Jeremy, but one destined unaided to stand on his own two feet.

Despite reservations, five stars are awarded. The novel appealed far more than expected - always involving and, once or twice, very moving indeed.
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VINE VOICEon 12 April 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Hang on - it's a rollercoaster! Well worth the ride, though. If you like your fiction with a soap opera slickness and speed this is a book for you. A page-turner for definite.

It's got it all: rags to riches hero, glamorous backdrops, boozy Mom, Father dead under mysterious circumstances, rich Aunt and Uncle who are not all they seem, lots of teenagers having a good time and sorting their problems, embezzlement, murder, and lots of romance and sexual confusion. Don't think I missed anything there.

Jeremy makes a great hero: having seen his mother through one alcoholic crisis after another, he escapes when her last relapse lands her in rehab. Aunt Katherine and Uncle Bill and a new High School may be the answer to all his problems. He's keeping a secret, though, he thinks he may be gay. It takes encounters with glamorous Reed, handsome Coby, and the inimitable Carlo to sort this one out. Then there's the problem of his eighteenth birthday when he inherits money from the family Trust. Is he going to make it that far alive?

A couple of deaths and a nasty beating, none of which are accidental, begin the race to the climax.

Nick Nolan has written some great supporting roles here - he learnt his trade from the American soaps of the 80s onwards - Katherine is the matriarch par excellence, a woman to be worshipped for her class and style (and her own little secret). Reed and Ellie are a brilliant teenage twosome, sassy, witty and attractive. They have some great lines and don't miss out on the emotional heart-rending. Coby - just naughty and handsome, he just can't resist getting what he wants as opposed to what he needs. Carlo, who is working out his identity in the face of his father's hostility and is basically just a nice guy.

And Arthur, an excellently executed father figure and mother hen rolled into one, ex-Marine and now something else which I won't reveal because it will spoil the climax, but he's not just a butler.

There is a serious point under all of this and Nolan makes it very well, sexual confusion is not just a personal development thing, it is influenced in all sorts of ways by all sorts of people. It is a minefield, but can also be part of an enriching journey. Well done to this author for the engaging way he presents the story, all the better for being in a populist mode.

It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but for those who like a well-written, racy novel it's a gift.
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VINE VOICEon 12 April 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Author Nick Nolan uses 'Pinocchio' as a template for his ultra-modern gay love story "Strings Attached", a rags-to-riches tale of a young man struggling with his sexual identity. Raised in poverty by an alcoholic single mom who is forced to abandon him after one binge too many, 17 year old Jeremy Tyler finds himself whisked off to the home of his ultra-wealthy aunt and uncle on the Californian coastline, where his eyes are opened to a whole new world of opportunity. At first reluctant to explore his true nature (due in part to the expectations that newfound wealth have thrust upon him), Jeremy begins to find his feet with a group of like-minded friends, even as dark storm clouds gather on the horizon. His mother warns him that his uncle cannot be trusted, and that the death of Jeremy's father in a car accident many years earlier was more than a little 'convenient', at which point the plot veers off into unexpected - and increasingly dangerous - directions.

The first in a trilogy of books, first published in 2006, "Strings Attached" reads like a Young Adult novel with swearing and sex, which makes it both hugely accessible and somewhat at odds with itself, all at the same time. The characters and their situations are readily identifiable, and Nolan's prose style is simple yet effective, creating detail in a spare, unerring fashion that cleverly outlines the narrative transition from Jeremy's impoverished beginnings to the golden new life he discovers amongst the Californian elite. His 'coming out' is played for maximum drama and suspense (will his girlfriend find out he's got the hots for the school jock?, etc.), and the results are as satisfying and well-rounded as could be hoped for.

The sequel, "Double Bound", seems more adult in prose style, though it will be fascinating to see how these characters develop and grow over the course of the trilogy. Highly recommended.
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on 9 December 2013
It had me from the beginning with the dark humour and realistic, relatable characters. There was a good mix of drama and intrigue, and had me laughing out loud in some parts. It flowed well and I will definitely be checking out the author's other books.
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on 17 December 2013
I did not realise that this was a book about gay people but I must say that it was well written and the emotions well expressed and to be quite honest I really enjoyed this book, well worth the read
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VINE VOICEon 3 April 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Strings Attached is the story of a young seventeen year old boy called Jeremy Tyler; his life up to now has been one of constant worry and living in poverty in Fresno, California with his widowed Mother, Tiffany a hopeless, depressive Alcoholic hell bent on personal destruction.

Following a life changing event, Jeremy is taken in by his Aunt Katherine and Uncle Bill, who live in a massive ocean side mansion in Ballena Beach, an upmarket resort on the California coast line.

Every piece of Jeremy's life is "sculpted" by his Aunt, and he starts his new life surrounded by wealth and status catered for every whim by his Butler, Arthur. He meets new friends at Ballena Beach High School, girls Reed and Ellie who he wants to be attracted to but instead finds himself hopelessly in love with the school swimming champion, handsome hunk, Coby. He also meets his best new friend, Carlo a cute and openly gay student who takes Jeremy under his wing.

Jeremy's story continues to deepen as we follow his slow coming out and realisation that he is Gay and can do nothing about it but embrace his true feelings. Throughout the storyline is weaved the true nature of the manipulative intentions of his Aunt and Uncle and the legacy of his beautiful Father, Jonathan Tyler who died in tragic circumstances when Jeremy was a baby.

At first glance you could dismiss this book as a glossy, Beverly Hills 90210 meets gay fairy tale but it is much more than this and I don't want to spoil the plot by revealing too much, but I found it incredibly addictive, hilarious, wonderful and sad in places. A real page turner and I'm sure would appeal to straight as well as gay audience. It is very encouraging to read such a lovey gay-themed story and I only wish such books were around when I was struggling with my own coming out when much younger.

I definitely recommend Strings Attached and shall be reading the next instalment in the planned trilogy, Double Bound by Nick Nolan.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 April 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Jeremy Tyler, seventeen years old remembers neither the wealth into which he was born, nor his father who died two years after he was born, all he knows is a life of poverty living alone with his alcoholic mother, a life of missed meals, tattered clothes and little love. But the day he comes home from school to find his mother collapsed and near death's door is the day everything changes for him. With his mother facing a six months recovery in hospital he finds himself sent away to be cared for by his wealthy aunt in her luxury villa on the California coast near Los Angeles.

He steps immediately into a life of privilege and promise, loved, adored and guided by his aunt, and with the help and support of Aurthur the family butler, his natural good manners, pleasing disposition and unspoilt charms blossom. He quickly makes friends at his new school, and proves himself a valued member of the swimming team.

But not all is plain sailing for Jeremy. Questions arise concerning his uncle Bill, is he all he seems, can he be trusted? Of more immediate worry though is Jeremy's sexuality, despite his strange fascination with boys he refuses to accept that he is gay. The openly gay Carlo, his first real new school friend, is convinced Jeremy is gay too, but Jeremy sets out out prove himself with a steady girl friend - despite the arousing fantasies he has centred on the handsome Cody, his swim team companion. But Jeremy still has a lot to learn about other people and himself; he will discover who can and who can't be trusted, and who his real friends are, who is true love is, and who he himself really is.

Strings Attached is a charming read, based on the traditional Pinocchio tale, is itself a delightful fairly story in which in typical fashion our hero comes triumphantly through all his trials and troubles. A fairy story complete with fairy-godmother Aurthur the gay butler, and the wicked all consuming uncle Bill. It is filled with interesting and well developed characters including the self-centred jock Cody; the two gossipy and often catty girls who take Jeremy under their wings; the fabulous and flamboyant Carlo, the beautiful Mexican boy who hopes to win over Jeremy; and the seemingly perfect Aurthur, Jeremy's guide and guardian, alway with the right answers, always in the right place at the right time.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, a well written book that is hard to put down, a book that is full of surprises, a book that is fast moving and wastes no time stating the obvious but moves ahead quickly yet cramming in much detail and interest along the way, but above all an involving and very touching tale - highly recommend.
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on 4 January 2014
an engaging read which had me shouting at the characters although i didn't guess its secrets. the pinocchio links passed me by although i enjoyed reading about them after!!
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on 25 January 2014
Engaging even though the plot contains some holes and features a remarkably feeble criminal mastermind. Characterisation tends to the stereotypical, with a filthy-rich great aunt who sounds like she’s been copied from thirties Hollywood, but the main figure and his butler-guardian are attractive. The stock bitchy girlfriends have some brilliantly unexpected lines, which lift the whole thing. The abortive heterosexual love scene in which the soon-to-be gay boy is outed through having forgotten to buy condoms (“You’re just not normal”) offers a memorable take on a familiar subject.
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