I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
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The blurb sounded good - high school senior coming of age, with insinuated bullying and issues with a best friend - so I requested this from the publisher.
Yeah, it sounded good.
Then I read the book. My reaction to this book is based on my own hang-ups so your mileage may vary.
What I expected - a hurt/comfort story about two young men figuring things out while coming out, with a bit of angst and drama but a sweet romance.
What I got - virgin sex with porn star qualities, with a bit of plot thrown in. Ray has been ignoring Jeff for months, even though they used to be best friends. Jeff gets bullied at school because he's out. We learn that Ray is two years older than Jeff, and supposedly the assistant coach, so the idea seems to be that Ray works for the school, yet is seen canoodling with students?
Neither Ray nor Jeff have ever been with another man. Neither has experienced giving or getting blowjobs, buttsex or rimming. Yet, both perform these virginal acts much like porn stars. The sex scenes read as if the author was giving a blow-by-blow (pun intended) account of his favorite porn movie.
Jeff getting his first blowjob:
"I held Ray's head with my hands, grabbing his hair, and began thrusting into his open and willing mouth."
Then on the next page, Ray's sucking cock like a pro, all the way to the base, and Jeff's gagging Ray with it, but doesn't care, even though he knows that this is Ray's first time giving head. With a grandiose finish all over Ray's face, because that's what virgins do.
I expected a lot more awkward fumbling from these two, considering that neither had any experience with any of this. I was actually looking forward to that awkwardness, because of the blurb.
And I was only halfway through the book.
Two pages later, I was confronted with a " huge man cock". As I wasn't thinking of poultry, I didn't need the reminder that this particular cock referred to Ray's appendage rather than a rooster. Unless this was supposed to be a reminder that Ray's dick is bigger than Jeff's because of their two year age difference?
At about 90%, Ray and Jeff engage in a first time rimming session. Old pro that Jeff is (it's his first time, y'all), he refers to it as Ray "servicing his hole".
Thankfully, I was almost done at that point and just read the remaining pages to see where these two would end up.
The dialogue was mostly juvenile, as is to be expected from their ages, so I was okay with that. The plot had a few holes, such as Ray being out of school and working for the school, yet sitting in the cafeteria with Jeff's classmates and also carrying on a beard relationship with a girl in Jeff's class. Hello, impropriety. That's a huge no-no, and would get Ray fired before he could blink. Even fictional characters should be subject to the law, to make your book realistic as a contemporary romance.
There were some moments that were endearing, like when Ray and Jeff have a come-to-Jesus discussion, or when Ray does that heroic thing toward the end that serves as a catalyst for the two to finally figure things out.
The idea for this book, the plot bunny, was great. Fear of coming out and teenage angst were what I was looking for, and if I deduct the virgin/porn-star sexing from the writing, this was a good book. There were plot points that made perfect sense, and I could understand how Jeff felt at the repeated betrayals, and how he would finally draw a line and say enough is enough. I could've done without the explicit, detailed account of their bedroom adventures.
** I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **