I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
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When I read the blurb for You In My Arms, I got a Cinderfella feel of sorts, and requested the book from its publisher for review. My thanks to MLR Press for providing a copy of the book.
While the plot/story itself was nice enough, and the two MCs were quite likable, the book was, for the most parts, all tell and no show. The dialogue runs on an on, punctuation seems optional, and it's full of edit-fail. I don't know whether the author refused to make changes to the manuscript, or if the editor had an off-day, but the writing read like a stream of consciousness. Punctuation is missing in many, many places, making this a difficult read, and there is a ton of superfluous dialogue, attempting to explain what's going on, which only makes this book fail miserably in making this an enjoyable read.
I liked Jason Monroe, our Cinderfella, 22, who was dealt a raw deal, before and after his father and stepmother die in a car accident, and he's left as his kid sister's guardian, having to quit college, give up his scholarship, and work two jobs just to keep them afloat. His character was nicely fleshed out, and came across as a well-liked, respectful and loyal young man, who's doing the best he can.
Zach Montgomery, cast as Prince Charming, 32, a bar owner with his friend Keith, a former pro football player who blew out his knee before his career could even really begin, initially comes across as a jerk. He doesn't do relationships, and when he is introduced to Jason at the gay bar he owns, his first comment is "Wanna fuck?". Because Zach doesn't do encores, and he tells Jason so, and is then seriously put out when virginal Jason doesn't take him up on that nice offer. He gets over his disappointment quickly enough to listen to Jason's story (in somewhat abbreviated fashion) and to offer the young man a job at the bar, while thinking that this might then lead him to get a go at the "virgin ass" he so admires.
I had a difficult time believing that Jason would tell a person he just met, especially one that offered just a "fuck", his hardships, and how he has to save his pennies to make ends meet. I mean, he tells Zach over and over, as the book progresses, that he can't do this, and he can't do that. It became somewhat repetitive (hello, where was your editor?), and tedious. I got it the first time, there was no need to repeat it.
From the first meeting, their story takes off, with Zach starting to fall for the young man, and Jason returning those feelings (but they must fight those, OMG, because a) Zach doesn't do relationships, and b) Jason isn't a one-night stand), and spending more time together than any boss and employee should.
As time goes by, and Zach sees more of the young man he so callously regarded at first, he changes his mind quite rapidly.
Jason too, feeling safe in that the "fuck" is off the table, begins to trust Zach and opens his heart and his life to Zach more and more.
As I said earlier, the plot was nice. This could have been a good story. I liked the supporting characters, Bobby, Keith and Mrs. Schwartz, Bobby's parents (all of them more or less cast as Cinderfella's fairy godparents), and Jason's backstory was pretty horrid, once it all came to light. The plot line with Kitty, Jason's 4 year old sister, and the terrible health issues was also okay, even though the conclusion to that, with strangers jumping at a chance to help them, felt a bit OTT.
I also didn't quite believe Zach's transformation from manwhore to devoted family man, though it was a nice idea. It just felt like it came on a bit quick. He just rides in as the Knight In Shining Armor, and it often felt as if he was rail-roading Jason, with solutions and money and "here's what we'll do", without entertaining the idea that Jason might not want that. At least Jason has sufficient backbone to stand up for himself when it became too much, though he often let Zach do what Zach wanted. It's all done with kindness, sure, and Zach obviously does what he does because he cares about Jason and Kitty, but Jason took care of things since he was barely a teenager. He's been around the block a few times, and while his father and stepmother were evil, horrid people as we learn (from NOT Jason), this young man has shown loyalty and a strong will to make sure his little sister is taken care of. He doesn't need Zach to be his knight, though I could understand that it must have felt good to Jason to no longer carry the burden alone, which may account for how much he lets Zach get away with the "I know what we'll do" attitude.
The sexy times - well, considering Jason is a virgin as far as all sex is concerned, I did like that Zach took his time to introduce him to all those fun things. I liked that he was considerate of his less experienced partner, and that he made it good for him.
Overall, 2.5 stars - the story itself was nice, and I liked that there was no real angst between the MCs, no grand misunderstanding, but the lack of editing/proof-reading made this a long and tiring read.
I am interested in reading about Bobby and Keith though - there was plenty left unsaid in this book, and lots of vibes about their story. I do hope that if this book gets written, it will be subjected to rigorous editing and proof-reading. A good editor might have done wonders with this one, by making the book more cohesive overall, and tying the pieces together.
** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **