I have really mixed feelings about this book, but overall really enjoyed it. If I had the luxury of time to sit and read it in a single sitting I would have. Every time I picked it up I found myself sucked in. But strangely, when I wasn’t reading it, I had trouble finding the compulsion to pick it back up.
This is a contemporary New Adult M/M story. Refreshingly, both characters are already out, and at no time question their sexuality. (I know there are others out there looking for these stories too, and this is a good one). Nick is a sophomore at a small New England liberal arts college. He has been openly gay since his mid-teens and suffered a lot of abuse and bullying in his home town. To counteract the abuse he received Nick has looked for control over his life through sex. He is kind of (but not entirely) the cliched moody bad boy with the tattoos and piercings and well-earned reputation for playing the field. Josh comes from the same home town, and was also out, but he was very popular and athletic and had a very different experience than Nick. Josh is 26 and has come back to his undergrad alma mater to do research for his graduate degree. While otherwise well-adjusted, Josh has a lot of sexual hang-ups.
Nick had a crush on Josh in high school (when Josh was a summer soccer coach), and Josh was just enough older to fall in to the hero worship bracket. Without telling Josh about their past connection Nick proposes a one night stand, which Josh quickly accepts. Josh decides that maybe one night was not enough, while Nick tries to protect himself from heartbreak in his usual manner of detachment.
The age difference between the characters made me uncomfortable. Nick has a LOT of issues to work through, and his immaturity is the catalyst for all their issues as a couple. And, I understand that Josh starts by just being attracted to Nick, and then he comes to respect his intellect and they share a lot of interests – but in your early 20s, six years is a big difference. Nick may be more sexually experienced, but he has a long way to go. I think this could all have been resolved to my satisfaction, and I would have bought more in to the happily ever after, if the epilogue had shown them a few years down the line and showed Nick settled in to who he will be. When we leave these characters Nick is still trying on different personas.
My biggest issue with the story is that Nick’s plan to win back Josh is based on signing up for the classes that Josh is teaching so they are in proximity to each other. While Josh is technically a student also, I have trouble believing that it is acceptable for him to have a relationship with an undergrad taking a course that he is the TA for. This conflict is not touched on once.
The cast of characters is really diverse. The majority of the characters are the gay friends of the heroes, and they range from beefy jocks to Hollywood twinks. I loved the diversity. Nick has a close lesbian friend (who I hope is getting her own book in the future) who is getting out of an abusive relationship. I haven’t read this author before, but I understand the first book in this series has a gender queer lead, which is pretty awesome, and something I have not seen in romance before.
Despite my eye rolls at some of the immaturity, I will definitely be reading more from this author. The writing style was superior to much of what I read in this genre, and I am still thinking about these characters several days after finishing the book – always a good sign.
*I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.