Oct 30, 2015

ARC Review: DEAD RINGER by Heidi Belleau & Sam Schooler


Brandon Ringer has a dead man’s face. His grandfather, silver-screen heartthrob James Ringer, died tragically at twenty-one, and Brandon looks exactly like him. But that’s where the resemblance ends. Brandon is unknown, unemployed, and up to his ears in bills after inheriting his grandparents’ Hollywood mansion. He refuses to sell it—it’s his last connection to his grandmother—so to raise the cash he needs, he joins a celebrity look-alike escort agency.

Percy Charles is chronically ill, isolated, and lonely. His only company is his meddlesome caregiver and his collection of James Ringer memorabilia. When he finds “Jim Ringer” on Hollywood Doubles’ website, he books an appointment, hoping to meet someone who shares his passion for his idol.

Brandon? Not that person.

But despite their differences, they connect, and Percy’s fanboy love for James shows Brandon a side of his grandfather he never knew. Soon they want time together off the clock, but Percy is losing his battle for independence, and Brandon feels trapped in James’s long shadow. Their struggle to love each other is the stuff of classic Hollywood. Too bad Brandon knows how those stories end.


Connect with the authors:
Heidi Belleau:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads 

Sam Schooler:  Website | Twitter | Goodreads 


Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars. I really, really, really liked it!

Dead Ringer is one of those books I wanted to hug after finishing it; hug the book, its main characters, and the authors for writing it. And to the people responsible for this cover, I'd like to say: Well done! It is not only an awesome cover, but it's also perfect for the story. It was that cover that first caught my eye, and made me curious about the book, but what made me want to read it was that the main character was an escort. I remembered wanting to read as many escort books as I could at the beginning of this year. What ever happened to that plan of mine, I have no idea, but this was a great opportunity to put it back in action. Mentions of classic Hollywood didn't hurt either. (This book actually made me want to watch a bunch of old movies.) Needless to say, I started reading Dead Ringer with high hopes, and I'm happy to report none of them were crushed. The more I read about Brandon and Percy, the more I wanted to read about them. The book has quite a few pages, but never did I feel bored by the story. I got to the end and wished there was more, but content to leave Brandon and Percy at that point, seeing how far they'd come. 

Before I get all teary-eyed again over the ending, I should go back to the beginning of the story, and Brandon's troubles. Brandon Ringer hadn't had an easy life. He was only nineteen, and because his parents found having a gay son unacceptable, he had been living on his own the best way he could for years. The only person in his family who'd always been on his side had been his grandmother Dahlia, who had recently passed away, leaving her Hollywood mansion to Brandon. Owning such a mansion didn't come cheap, but he was determined to keep Dahlia's house and her memories. He started working as a cam model, which led him to another job at Hollywood Doubles, an escort service with employees who look like celebrities. Being a spitting image of his grandfather, James Ringer, an old Hollywood legend, Brandon was perfect for the job.  

Working as his grandfather's double wasn't an ideal situation for Brandon. All his life he was reminded of how much he resembled him, and not for good things. Plus, he grew up hearing gossip about James's numerous affairs, for which he was still angry on Dahlia's behalf. It goes without saying he was less than enthusiastic about playing the role of the man he despised, which showed quite clearly in the clients' reviews. 

Everything changed after meeting Percy. 

Percy, being chronically ill, spent all his time isolated in his part of his parents' huge house. His only company was his creepy caregiver, while his parents weren't exactly interested in his life, other than to take him to parties to show he wasn't too sick, and to show themselves in the best possible light as caring parents. At one of those parties, he met Kovie, a girl who soon became his friend and gave him the idea to do something rebellious. Percy being a James Ringer fanboy, saw hiring Brandon or "Jim Ringer" as  an excellent plan to both rebel and spend time with another Ringer fan. The problem was Jim turned out to be a disappointment because other than the way he looked, Jim was nothing like James. On top of that he didn't seem to know anything about him.

After letting Percy down, and his other clients, Brandon decided to change his attitude, and become better at his job. This was one of my favorite parts of the book. Seeing Brandon trying hard to do his job well, then being so happy after receiving positive reviews from the same clients who weren't so pleased before, it was wonderful. Ah, it still makes me smile.
Throughout the story it was easy to feel whatever the main characters felt, and Brandon's content for a job well done was contagious. More importantly, this was Brandon's first step in getting to know his grandfather. As the story progressed he found out more and more about him, making him realize not all was as it seemed, and that James Ringer wasn't the devil he was led to believe. 
Percy played an important role in that.

Watching James Ringer movies wasn't all Brandon & Percy did during their meetings. After all, Brandon worked for an escort service. But that wasn't all, either. These two young men discovered how much they liked each other's company, how much they liked each other, and how much they wanted to be together off the clock. However, with Percy's medical condition and his quality of life depending on medicines controlled by his creepy caregiver and parents, and with Brandon's secrets, that wasn't easy to achieve. How they managed or did they manage, you'll have to find out for yourselves. I've said enough. I, for one, enjoyed every part of their journey, even the ones that made my heart hurt. In the end, it was all worth it.

Overall, with an interesting  plot, subplots, lovable main characters, quite a few side characters who won my sympathies (there were a few exceptions, of course), and that old Hollywood feel, in my book, Dead Ringer was an absolute winner. 

***ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***

Until next time, happy reading!



  1. Oh this sounds good! And the cover!

    1. It was good for me. Very good. :) Ah, yes, the cover... I could stare at it for hours.

  2. That is a great cover and what an awesome feeling to have when you finish a read :D

    1. Whoever is responsible for it did an excellent job -- it's perfect for the book. :)

      It really is. I read a few books that I wanted to hug this year. I'm always happy when it happens. :)


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