February Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

soft focus photo of the face and neck of a very cute dark-haired guy with blue blue eyes and pouty lipsHeartShip by Amy Jo Cousins – B A sweet, mostly low-conflict novella about Josh, a college football player (he’s heading into his final year and has been previously red-shirted so he’s 25) and Benji, a 32-year-old massage therapy student who meet on an online fandom for RWBY, a (real) American anime series. After they meet online, they take their conversations to Twitter and catch up once a week to live tweet episodes of RWBY together. Benji’s handle is “princessglitter” and he’s never actually specifically stated he’s a guy. Josh has never explicitly asked him. Benji assumes Josh thinks he’s a girl. But it doesn’t matter because Josh lives in Minnesota and Benji lives in Miami.

Until Josh, who has been sidelined due to a possibly football-ending injury decides to surprise his friend in Florida with a visit.

It’s not a gay for you story. It’s clear very early on that Josh has always known he’s gay. He just hadn’t come out yet, not even really to himself. However, once he meets Benji in person, their flirty online banter and the deep friendship they’ve developed spills over into physical intimacy. It’s fair to say that Josh takes to gay sex like a duck to water and he barely has a qualm about coming out – even to his teammates back in Minnesota. I read it as a “show the world as you’d prefer it to be” kind of thing rather than (unfortunately) actually realistic. There is a little homophobia referenced but it’s dealt with quickly and isn’t a big feature in the story.

April Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

curly-headed red-haired young man with arms folded across his chest, smiling slightly. Love Me Like a Rock by Amy Jo Cousins – B Austin and Vinnie are suite-mates with Rafi (from Level Hands) at Carlisle college and is the cox for the Junior Varsity boat in the rowing team. He’s short (5’4″) and compact (but fit and strong) and has a mop of curly red hair. He and Vinnie have been BFFs since they met in high school and shortly after, they also became semi-regular fuck buddies. Austin has been waiting for Vinnie to want an actual relationship. Vinnie is only interested in Vinnie in any romantic kind of way when he’s turned in a paper and wants to de-stress, get drunk and screw. Austin figures he’ll wise up eventually. But in the meantime, he’s free to have a fling with the hot model from the latest life drawing class. Sean is a geology senior, taller than Austin but not by a lot and he’s also a redhead – his style is lumbersexual, complete with beard.  While Austin makes things clear to Sean, it’s equally obvious that Sean is really, willing and able to go all in. He’s had his eye on Austin for over a year.

Over the course of the story, Austin realises that his fuck buddy relationship with Vinnie is unhealthy and going nowhere. And, as he spends time with Sean, he realises that there are reasons for that, some of which come down to Austin himself. He finds himself a different person with Sean – more relaxed and open about his feelings. By different I don’t mean that Sean changes Austin. It’s not like that. It’s more that with Sean, Austin relaxes and opens up in a different way and learns a new way to be – he’s always himself and Sean doesn’t want or ask for him to change his personality or anything.

Full Exposure by Amy Jo Cousins

full exposureWhy I read it:  The author tweeted the cover and I was pretty much all in after that. It’s FREE!!

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  There’s more than one way to be a rock star.

Evan Pak is a card-carrying geek (he even has the job to prove it), but when his photographer brother invites him to tag along on a photo shoot with rock star Riley Flood, he figures it will be two days of ogling and eye-rolling and nothing more. But the reckless bad boy is nothing like he expected, and Evan is mesmerized by the mix of cocky and sweet he sees in Riley. When a spontaneous idea ends with Evan stripping down under the hot lights for an intimate portrait for Riley’s next album cover, Evan is absolutely sure their connection won’t end when the lights are turned off. Especially since Riley can’t seem to keep his hands off the tattoos Evan hides under his clothes.

Even a spoiled rock star wants to give up control sometimes, if only for a weekend. The world is full of people who want things from Riley and the demands on him never stop. Evan knows exactly how to turn off the noise in Riley’s head and it starts by putting him on his knees.

Together, they will push each other higher and farther than either one of them have ever gone before. It’s easy to take risks when there’s a time limit on the game. But when their time is up, what comes next if they don’t want the game to end?

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  This story is told in three distinct parts. Part One is the longest and is where Evan and Riley meet at the photoshoot. It sets up, briefly, that Evan is a devoted son and the reason he lives with his dad is more than money. Riley’s character is a little opaque because the story is told entirely from Evan’s (third person) point of view. I got glimpses of a man who felt there was no-one on his side, one who was mainly being used as a cash cow and felt alone but it was mostly glimpses. Evan might be a “geek” and work from home in IT but he is not a pale, basement-living, never-see-the-sun stereotype, thankfully.

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