I can’t deny that this was a pretty adorable aside in The Ivy Years series. I wasn’t going to bother with it because short stories and novellas aren’t really my thing, but I was convinced by all the people who loved it. Katie, a freshman, is still adjusting and trying to find a place to belong at college. She’s pledging a sorority and has dated a few athletes, but due to a humiliating experience with one of them, she’s feeling a little unsteady. When her roommate sets her up on a blind date with a basketball player, she can’t help but be relieved that he’s thoughtful and nothing like her ex.
This wasn’t a perfect story for me (there’s a little too much “nice guy’s always get friendzoned” self-pitying for my taste and the writing gets weird during the sex scene), but it was well worth the detour. Katie is a great character and I kind of wish we got to spend more time with her.
The Understatement of the Year:
Believe it or not, this is my very first queer romance. How is that even possible!? I figured it would be a great one to start with because I’ve liked the previous Bowen romances and it’s received pretty great reviews from cannonballers. Bowen really knows how to set her characters in difficult situations so they have to work through personal drama and the romance doesn’t come easily (teehee).
Hockey player Michael Graham is deep, deep in the closet. The last time let his guard down in public was the worst day of his life so he’s not about to come out of that closet any time soon, especially in a sport like hockey which thrives on toxic masculinity (and seriously gay undertones). When his old “friend” John Rikker suddenly transfers to his team, Graham freaks the fuck out. Not only do they have serious history, but Rikker is out and proud of it. The rest of the team isn’t sure how to act around Rikker, but none of them are as freaked out as Graham.
I love, love, loved Bowen’s exploration of sexuality and masculinity. She has such a knack for working difficult, timely subjects into her stories without being preachy or obnoxious about it. It seems effortless, though I’m sure it is anything but that when she’s writing. Like her earlier books, her characters are beautifully complex and are almost immediately fully fleshed out. Can’t recommend this one enough. If you’re like I was and haven’t read a queer romance yet, this is the perfect one to start with!