I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
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I was intrigued by the blurb when I saw this book on Netgalley, and not disappointed at all after reading it.
Luke, a shy, young Asian-American, who lost his parents at a young age, and whose college fund is being held by his two nasty-as-all-out aunts, is losing his place to live, but refuses to give in to the demands of his aunts to walk the path they want him to walk.
Faced with homelessness, he accepts an offer from Cooper, a tattooed guy, who comes into the flower shop where Luke works - a place to stay in exchange for sex.
Except Luke insists that he's not gay. Nope, not at all.
What could have turned icky so easily actually became a sweet romance between two very different men, and a lot of growth for Luke in a rather short time. Especially once he figures out that, yes, he's actually gay. When Luke lets go of fighting against being gay, he starts to flourish under Cooper's attention and care, starts building a backbone and starts to really grow into himself.
His lack of self-worth, readily explained by the treatment he receives from his aunts and cousin Brody (seriously, these are caricatures at best, and evil, nasty, despicable humans at worst), is rather low, but somehow Cooper's no-nonsense attitude slowly pulls Luke out of his protective shell.
I marked this dub-con, because there is one initial moment where Cooper wants to cash in on the agreement that felt a wee bit dubious to me, though he doesn't go through with it, when he realizes how much Luke cowers from it.
I liked Cooper, to be honest, despite the convoluted way he goes about winning Luke for himself, specifically for how he stands up for Luke, becomes his friend and confidante, and defends him against the wicked witches and cousin Luke has to call family. His agenda, though hidden at first, was rather clear, even if Luke didn't get it for a while.
With organic dialogue and well-paced writing, this was a great book to read. It was nice to see a non-white main love interest in an M/M romance, and I liked that the author allowed Luke to grow throughout. Cooper too had more facets than I thought initially, and the author showed that there was much more to him than the ink on his skin.
** I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return. **