Five Dates by Amy Jo Cousins

Five DatesWhy I read it:  This is a freebie written for the Goodreads MM Romance Group’s Love’s Landscapes event.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Helping his sister Lucy raise her kid has put Devin’s love life on hold. When he loses a bet to her and the penalty is to go out on five dates with men she’s chosen from Guys4Guys.com, he thinks that’s bad enough. Finding out she used a thirteen-year-old picture of him to score a date with a young guy who looks like a rock star? Epically bad.

Jay thought he wanted to fall for an older man. But his last boyfriend left him feeling humiliated and determined to stick to guys his own age. When he realizes he’s been conned into a date with exactly the kind of man he’s sworn to avoid, he’s ready to walk away on the spot. Only Devin’s swift apologies convince Jay to accept dinner to make up for the deception.

“The date doesn’t count for the bet unless you get a goodnight kiss.” After one not-a-date dinner with Jay, Devin isn’t worried about his sister’s rules. He just wishes he could convince Jay to go out with him for real. Jay wants no part of Devin, but Devin wants every part of Jay . . . so he asks Jay to help update his look for the rest of his dates. But once Jay’s made Devin over into the perfect date, will he be able to let him go?

Dear Author,

I lost a bet with my sister. I was so sure the Broncos would win. Now it is time for me to pay up. She has decided I need a man in my life. She submitted a profile for me at Guys4Guys.com and set up five dates. I haven’t been on five dates in the past five years. And if the thought of five first dates isn’t scary enough, check out the photo she put in my profile.

Yes, that hot, young, guy really is me… thirteen years ago! To be twenty-two again. I miss my thirty-two-inch waist and six-pack.

Photo Description:

A good-looking, young blond man leans back against exposed pipework. He is shirtless and his jeans look a little old-fashioned with their light wash. His arms are huge and he sports a six-pack, although he’s already looking the tiniest bit soft around the waistline. As if that six-pack might not quite be there in ten years…

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I was so charmed by this novella.  I’d have happily read a full length book about this couple. Devin is such a nice guy – he’s made sacrifices for his sister and nephew but he’s not at all resentful. He’s also not a doormat. He’s kind of shy and a little lonely but it takes losing a bet to his sister to get him out on some dates.  The first one is with Jay – a younger guy who is pretty pissed off that he was the butt of a bet between the siblings and who thought he was meeting a guy 13 years younger.  Jay has baggage – he was in an abusive relationship with an older guy and he’s sworn off dating them – even though that’s where his attractions lay.

Devin is very conscious of the importance of consent and of not pushing Jay, especially given his (Jay’s) initial dismay at the circumstances of their not-date. He can also tell pretty quickly that Jay has some hot buttons Devin needs to be wary of.  Nevertheless, their attraction continues to spark and they do eventually overcome those barriers and the ending is a hopeful happy ending – in that their relationship is really just beginning.

The story covers the period of the five dates plus a glimpse of the morning after date five – it was neat and fit well within the novella format.  If I wanted more it was because I was so charmed by the characters I wanted to spend more time with them.  The novella doesn’t try to do too much – it’s just the very start and it was a delight to read. I liked how quickly we were into the action (something that’s necessary in such a short word count) and how much early promise their relationship shows.

I’d certainly like to read more about these guys and the author tweeted me recently that she had promised a Christmas short story to another reader so I’m definitely looking forward to that.

It’s a polished free read and a little gem. I recommend.

Grade: B+

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4 comments on “Five Dates by Amy Jo Cousins

  1. Jonetta (Ejaygirl)

    Love your review and have downloaded the book! Thanks very much.

  2. cleo

    You liked this more than I did. I feel kind of curmudgeonly complaining about a free novella, but it didn’t completely work for me. I liked Devin a lot and I agree that their story was charming. But, I felt like Jay underwent a personality change practically every other scene – his actions and character felt inconsistent. I just didn’t believe in him as a character.

    As a Chicagoan, I thought the setting was pretty believable – although some of the travel times seemed way too fast, but I could go with that. I believe I’ve eaten at the restaurant where they had their first date – if I’m thinking of the right spot, I remember going there in my early 20s and feeling *so* grown up and sophisticated. And going back there in my 40s and feeling like I was a little too old for the scene.

    I’ll still probably try this author again.

  3. Kaetrin

    @cleo: I’d like to know more about Jay too. It’s been a while since I read it but I *think* what you put down to inconsistency I attributed to inner conflict. But the review has been sitting in my queue for more than two months, so I might have just made that up!

    The author hasn’t written the holiday short yet (there was a family bereavement which obviously took priority) so maybe that will give readers more insight?

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