Review: The Roommate Situation by Zoe X. Rider

RoomateTitle & Author: The Roommate Situation by Zoe X. Rider
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Loose Id
Pages: 330

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):

College freshman Shane Hahn finds himself unexpectedly shuffled to a new dorm room–which is fine by him, but his over-involved mother takes one look at toothpick-chewing, motorcycle-riding Derek McClain, his new roommate, and gets on the phone with the school. The school requires that Shane be the one to file the room-change paperwork, but Shane’s reluctant.

He’s attracted to Derek’s independence, even though that independence means Derek has to pay his own way through college, which he does by making leather products (you know: belts, wallets…bondage gear) and selling it online. Shane isn’t even allowed to work while he’s in school, much less join a band, which is what he really wants to do with his life. Unfortunately, his parents are holding his guitar hostage until he can prove he’s taking his future seriously.

When he decides he needs a way to come up with cash–the kind his parents won’t find out about–so he can buy a guitar his parents can’t take away from him, he turns to Derek with what sounds like a win-win solution: he’ll model bondage gear for Derek’s online store photos, Derek will get more sales, and Shane will get a cut. The one thing he doesn’t factor into his plan is the giddy stomach-flip feeling Derek McClain causes whenever he walks in the room–and what that might mean for them when Derek starts locking leather cuffs on his wrists.

My Thoughts:

Overall, I enjoyed this one.

The relationship between Derek and Shane was strong and the slow-build from tentative overtures of friendship to lovers to being in love was utterly believable. There was also some decent character development. Both characters felt like your genuine ‘every man’ – like the guys that lived down the hall from you in the dorms, or sit next to you in class, or pass you in the hall at a party – and it was nice to see their growth over the course of the book (particularly that of Shane). Also, the small dose of kink that Rider threw in was somehow sweet and innocent and honest; it felt completely natural for both of these guys to explore these different sides to their personalities and sexuality while in college.

One aspect of the book that didn’t hugely thrill me was that after about 200 pages I found the minutiae of college life and the mundane nature of some of the conversations to get a little tedious. I’ve been there, done that – three times (but who’s counting?) – and I know these conversations by heart already. I’m over them. Let’s sing a new song already!

Still, I think the biggest obstacle to my enjoyment of this book was that the focus was split pretty evenly between Shane’s relationship with Derek, Shane’s relationship with his parents (particularly his sMother), and Shane’s journey of self-discovery. Personally, I would have preferred a little less of the parental pressures and a little more outright romance in my romance novel – just a few more outright declarations, sweet nothings, or casually affectionate gestures to lighten my heart. But that’s entirely a personal preference; you might find it to have the perfect balance.

Definitely worth a read, but it wouldn’t make the top of my recommendation lists.

My Rating:

3 Smooch

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Review: A Family of His Own by Sean Michael

A Family of His Own CoverTitle & Author: A Family of His Own by Sean Michael
Series: Mannies Incorporated (#2)
Release Date: December 18, 2013
Publisher: TorquerePress
Pages: 202 pages

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):
Will’s a widower with three little girls, including six month old twins, to look after. Most days it’s all Will can do just to get home from his advertizing job in time for goodnight kisses, but now his mother-in-law is leaving the country with her new boyfriend and Will needs the help of a professional nanny.

Benji loves being a nanny; looking after other people’s kids is the next best thing to having his own, and as a gay man, he figures it’s as close as he’s going to get. He’s between jobs and is thrilled when he gets the call from Mannies Incorporated to interview with Will’s family.

He falls in love with the girls right away, but also finds himself attracted to their father. Benji knows he shouldn’t moon over his boss, especially when Will desperately really needs his services as a nanny, but he can’t help but wonder what it would be like to have a family of his own.

My Thoughts

When I picked up Sean Michael’s A Family of His Own (Mannies Incorporated #2), I was looking for a sweet, fluffy, funny book with minimal angst. I wanted to read about hot gay men taking care of adorable tiny humans who use improbably precocious dialogue and leave me with a serious case of the “awwwwws” when the book is finished (I swear that shit is like catnip to me – I go crazy for it). 

So did this book deliver? Abso-freakin-lutely.

After some initially heartbreaking moments that set the scene for the book and help readers to invest in the characters, A Family of His Own totally delivered on the sweetness and fun and heart that I was looking for.

First of all, it has to be said: I loved Ben! I mean, how could I NOT love someone who was as sweet, open, intelligent, and caring as this guy?! A born nurturer, Ben’s desire to be part of the Cavanaugh family – first as a nanny, and then as a father and husband – was palpable. He just wanted a place to belong and a family to call his own, and who can blame him for that? No one with a heart, that’s who. And, oh gosh! The way that he looked after those kids…? It was positively ovary melting!

But as much as I loved Ben’s character, I have to admit that I was far less enthusiastic about Will’s. There’s no denying that Will has had a rough year – the love of his life is dead which leaves him to raise their three young daughters alone, his closest family member and sole support system is leaving them to take an extended vacation, he has an incredibly demanding job and a boss from hell, and his type one diabetes is out of control. He’s sick and lonely and depressed and utterly overwhelmed. Who wouldn’t be?! That’s a lot for any one person to handle. I understood Will’s grief, but I’d be lying if I said that his reactions and the way that he treated his children in light of that grief didn’t put a strain on the sympathy that I initially felt towards him. Thankfully the author did show readers significant growth in Will’s character, both personally and professionally, by the end of the book and it was lovely to see.

Still… I struggled to see exactly what Will brought to his relationship with Ben beyond his three beautiful daughters and a paycheck. To me a relationship is a partnership – a two-way street – but Will spent almost the entire novel needy and cranky and sick. He never seemed to give anything to the relationship in the same way that Ben did. Not that he was a bad guy (he wasn’t!), but he also didn’t seem particularly supportive or even all that interested in Ben as a person outside of his role as a nanny. Whereas Ben was always willing to ask about Will’s day, his work, his life with Dale, his art, etc., I didn’t see a whole lot of that reciprocated by Will and this imbalance ultimately left me feeling a little unsatisfied with that aspect of their relationship.

That said, the couple’s sexy times were PLENTY steamy and the connection between the two of them felt entirely natural. That scene in the attic with Will’s art?! Hot damn! I mean, I’m not gonna say I wouldn’t have appreciated it more if Will had played the part of the lecherous artist and ask Ben to pose nude for him, but what actually happened in the book was good, too… 😉

One of the best things about the book was the dialogue. Carrie’s kiddie-speak was done well; it was cute and sweet and funny and ran in patterns of conversation and attitude that would certainly be familiar to anyone with children. Even better than that, however, was the dialogue between Ben and Will during their more intimate moments. Their bedroom talk didn’t make me want to laugh awkwardly and their stuttering afterwards was perfectly executed to show how brain-melting the sex was. It was never overdone, and always had the kind of natural feel to it that chatting with my friends does. So well done, Mr. Michael!

Overall, I’m going to steal Will’s phrase and say that this book was full of “win.” It’s perhaps not the most memorable book I’ll read in 2014, but I’d definitely recommend A Family of His Own to anyone looking for something with feeling and heart as well as a dose of sweetness.

My Rating:
3 SmoochHalf

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Review: Superhero by Eli Easton

SuperheroTitle: Superhero
AuthorEli Easton
Release Date: July 25, 2013
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 136
Read: January 1, 2013

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):

It’s not easy for a young gay artist like Jordan Carson to grow up in Jefferson, Wisconsin, where all anyone seems to care about in middle school and high school are the sports teams. But Jordan was lucky. He met Owen Nelson in the second grade, and they’ve been BFFs ever since. Owen is a big, beautiful blond and their school’s champion wrestler. No one messes with Owen, or with anyone close to him, and he bucks popular opinion by keeping Jordan as his wingman even after Jordan comes out at school.

Their friendship survives, but Jordan’s worst enemy may be himself: he can’t seem to help the fact that he is head-over-heels in love with a hopeless case—his straight friend, Owen. Owen won’t let anything take Jordan’s friendship away, but he never counted on Jordan running off to find a life of his own. Owen will have to face the nature of their relationship if he’s to win Jordan back.

My Thoughts:

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you my first GFY of the year! Look what it did to me:

This is my second book by Eli Easton, the first being Blame It On the Mistletoe—*sighs* Fielding—, and I’m pretty sure that I have a new auto-buy author because this was just wonderful. Jordan and Owen were the perfect couple to welcome me into the New Year. Their friendship made me smile, and awww, and just feel all warm inside (and right now, with it being as cold as it is where I am, I welcome all the warmth I can get be it from hot chocolate, extremely soft blankets, or awww inducing GFY reads).

Superhero is one of those books that has been on my TBR for so long that I’m kind of ashamed of the fact now that I’ve read it. As a lover of many genres, my very favorite are contemporaries, or, as I learned in elementary school, realistic fiction, and this guys—this book right here, these two young men—are the definition of real. Easton has a gift of weaving stories and characters that are so real they feel as though they were happening to people I knew and cared about because you can’t read Superhero and not, in the very least, end up caring for Jordan and Owen. It’s just not possible.

Told from both Jordan and Owen’s perspective you get to see their friendship grow from the very beginning when they meet in the second grade and Owen sits next to Jordan. Even at the tender age of seven, Jordan knows that Owen is something special. He’s different. By the looks of him, he could be the kind of guy that picks on you, but Jordan knows that with Owen that isn’t the case. He wants Owen to be his friend, he needs Owen to be his friend, and so, without realizing it due to his age, he sets off on his first seduction. How? With toy cars. And he succeeds.

And so it begins.

Owen and Jordan have the kind of friendship that everyone needs in their life. They’re each other’s everything. Owen loves two things in his life: His Jordy and wrestling. Jordan loves two things in life: His Owen and art. Everything is perfect . . . until Jordan realizes something . . . he’s in love with his best friend.

Owen, though he loves Jordan, doesn’t love Jordan. He’s straight . . . right? Right. Kind of.

I know this might not be some people’s cup of tea because of the fact that it is a YA/NA (young adult/new adult) read, but that shouldn’t deter you from picking up this book and reading it right now. One, because everyone should become introduced to Owen and Jordan, and two, because there are a couple of scenes in Superhero that are decidedly not young-adult (which is the G-rated version of me telling you that those scenes were hot as fuck).

The only complaints that I have with the story is that one, it is much too short and I wanted more Owen and Jordan sexy time, and two, the ending felt just a little too abrupt with me. I’m not exactly sure why, but I think it’s because the ending isn’t shared with Owen and Jordan but Jordan and Owen’s mother. I loved what she was saying to him, but I would have loved it even more if Owen had just walked into the room, kissed Jordan on the cheek or something, and just smiled at him. I don’t know. It was a nice ending, just not what I wanted.

In any case, go do yourself a favor and read this gem because it is so worth it.

Quotable Quotes:

“I noticed some of the wrestlers and football players eyeing Owen at the table and not looking too thrilled about it. I almost flipped them off then remembering that I’m, like, twenty pounds shy of the right to be cocky. I kept my finger to myself.”

“No one’s going to come shopping if the ‘for sale’ sign isn’t on the door.”

“What you are to me is the guy that I’ve been madly in love with since sixth grade. You’re the guy I think about every night when I’m in bed by myself. You’re the one who doesn’t want me but insists on keeping me tied so close that I can’t have anyone else, who keeps one hand on my collar and the other hand up his girlfriend’s skirt. And I can’t do it anymore!”

“Say, yes, Jordan,” he said, shifting closer.
“No,” I said.
Owen smiled. “Close enough.” And then he kissed me.

My Rating:

1 Smooch1 Smooch1 Smooch1 Smooch

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