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During college, Max and Patrick met at a bar one night. Max, a bit of a "nerd" and very focused on finishing school early, was surprised that Patrick was flirting with him, thinking the star football player was straight. In fact, Patrick is bisexual, and while he doesn't hide it, he had been dating only women the last few years at school.
(Which isn't an excuse for assuming someone's sexuality, trust me, but it does give a bit of background info on why Max would think he's straight rather than gay or bi. BTW, his bisexuality is never an issue in the book, so there's that at least.)
After a few drinks, Max offers to drive Patrick home, but instead they agree to go to Max's place and watch a movie. There's a bit of a cute/awkward moment during the movie when coffee is spilled on Patrick's shirt, requiring him to take it off while Max is freaking out that he might have burned him . . . and also flustered at Patrick's abs and body, of course. This leads to a kiss, which turns into a hookup. Patrick doesn't do serious relationships though, as he's focused on football, making the draft, and making it big for his family's sake, etc. So after their night together, he walks right out of Max's life.
Three years later, and Patrick not only blew out his knee and lost his football dream, but also lost his father. Now he's running his father's mechanic shop and raising his teenage brother. Max is ready to take the bar and work at the family's firm, something that's been expected of him his entire life. They run into each other again and of course realize that the mutual attraction is still there. They dance around whether they should start something up again or not. But they just can't resist, even if it's just another temporary hook up.
When Liam, Patrick's brother, gets into trouble, Patrick seeks Max's help. But with this comes the reminder that Patrick and Max are from different sides of the track; Patrick thinks he's not good enough for Max, and Max has to decide if he's going to finally step up and publicly claim his sexuality -- something his family has made him keep quiet about for the sake of their image. Will the former jock and nerd have their HEA?
I liked this story well enough and finished it quickly but I had some issues with it. Mostly minor things, but still more than enough to make me take notice:
- The conflict felt minimal and really superficial to the story; what little was there was quickly wiped away without adding much to the story's movement.
- I'm not sure about the genre and story aim here: is it trying to be New Adult because of their age? Because it didn't feel or read as NA at all to me and I actually pictured both heroes as late 20s or even early 30s even though, I believe, they're meant to be no more than 24 or so.
- Was it trying to be a sports romance with the title and cover? Because it wasn't that, either. Patrick played in college, but the novel takes place entirely after college AND after he had injured his knee and no longer played. Sooooo . . . not a sports romance, either, though it seems like it's being marketed as one? I'm just confused and felt like it was being written and marketed as something it's not.
- I wish there had been more shown from their original college hookup. And I don't just mean the sex itself, but rather to show more of the morning after, Patrick's leaving, and how both of them felt about that. Instead we get their meeting at the bar, a few pages leading up to the kiss and BJ, and then that's it until the story picks up 3 years later. I wanted more! When a couple has a past, even if it was only a quickie hookup, I want to see it on page as much as possible in order to understand why they should get together again permanently this time.
The other issues I had were more related to the writing/editing and word choices:
- The sex scenes switch between "cock", "dick", and "shaft". Every. Single. Time. Now, I've read other books where more than one word is used throughout the book and never noticed or been bothered by it. But something about how it was done in this book -- almost methodically, like Use Word 1 in Sentence 1, Word 2 in Sentence 2, and Word 3 in Sentence 3, rinse and repeat every page -- caught my attention, and not in a good way.
- Maybe it's just me, but authors: pick one word and stick to it! Preferably not shaft, ever. How many guys (today, not talking about a HR) think of their peen as a shaft? None.
- Also during the sex scenes, Max kept using the words "his lover" (internal dialogue/thoughts). As in "...the salty-sweet flavor of his lover exploded over his taste buds".
- "His lover" was used repeatedly. I counted 25 times in the book. Why? Why not reword the sentences so that it would say "his (cock, flavor, body, whatever)"? Was the author/editor worried that readers would confuse the two hes in a sentence? If so, the writing's not clear enough and needs to be fixed. But putting in "his lover" during the sex scenes just threw me out of the scene. Really, that's his lover? I never would have guessed. THANKS.
- CUM. This author uses "cum" instead of "come". Nooooo. I hate the word cum. Hate it and it drags me out of the scene so damn fast; it's not a sexy word for me. Cum is very much rooted in the male gaze so I don't think I could ever, in any book, find it sexy. True, that's just me and some may have the opposite opinion. That's fine; you do you. But for me, I cringed every time cum was used (at least 6 times that I marked, if you were wondering). Please, authors/editors/publishers, always use come. WE KNOW WHAT IT MEANS IN THE CONTEXT OF A SEX SCENE, I PROMISE.
- Related: shortly before I started reading this, a conversation about cum vs come was going around on Twitter. Here's my tweet on it and the original tweet from an author, if you're interested.
- In short, the sex scenes felt . . . stiff. I could see the potential and they weren't outright NOT sexy, but between all these things mentioned above, the scenes were more "meh..." than "UNF" because the writing would pull me out of the moment at every turn.
- Did I like it? Yes, it was okay.
- Would I recommend it? Possibly to someone; it's not bad by any means, but there are dozens of M/M romances I would recommend above this one.
- Would I try another from this author? Maybe. I'm not dying to do so, but I'm not cutting her out completely either. Yet.
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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley.
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Until Next Time,
*TBQ's Book Palace is a member of both the Amazon and Barnes and Nobles affiliates program. By using the links provided to buy products from either website, I receive a very small percentage of the order. To read my full disclosure on the matter, please see this post!