Categories
4.5 stars Angst Level Book coming of age Exploration Friends to lovers Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Hidden Lovers Homophobia Hopelessly Crying m/m Mild/low level heat Morgan New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Recent Past Riptide Publishing Virgin young adult

Trailer Trash by Marie Sexton

release day review

 

Riptide Presents

http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/trailer-trash#sthash.gkyYeP7W.dpuf

28531239Blurb

It’s 1986, and what should have been the greatest summer of Nate Bradford’s life goes sour when his parents suddenly divorce. Now, instead of spending his senior year in his hometown of Austin, Texas, he’s living with his father in Warren, Wyoming, population 2,833 (and Nate thinks that might be a generous estimate). There’s no swimming pool, no tennis team, no mall—not even any MTV. The entire school’s smaller than his graduating class back home, and in a town where the top teen pastimes are sex and drugs, Nate just doesn’t fit in.

Then Nate meets Cody Lawrence. Cody’s dirt-poor, from a broken family, and definitely lives on the wrong side of the tracks. Nate’s dad says Cody’s bad news. The other kids say he’s trash. But Nate knows Cody’s a good kid who’s been dealt a lousy hand. In fact, he’s beginning to think his feelings for Cody go beyond friendship.

Admitting he might be gay is hard enough, but between small-town prejudices and the growing AIDS epidemic dominating the headlines, a town like Warren, Wyoming, is no place for two young men to fall in love.

Review

Wow. So not what I was expecting when I first read the blurb.

There’s so much going on in this book.

First, Nate’s story. He and his dad move to Warren, WY (Nowhere) and it’s a hard adjustment. His mom is still in Austin, Tx. He has no friends. The teeny tiny town is about as different from life in Austin as you can get and the only friend he likes is the town pariah.

Then, Cody. Cody’s mom is all alone, doing what she can to make ends meet. Sometimes things she doesn’t want to talk about. The town knows about Cody and his mom and then… there’s the gay thing. Somehow the little town finds out Cody’s most hidden secret and they won’t let it go. (This is the state that killed Matthew Shepard in 1988.)

At first (over the summer), the two are really close friends. But when school starts, Cody distances himself from Nate in an effort to “save” Nate from being associated with Cody. Well, as time goes on, not only does Nate NOT want to be with the other jerks in town, he longs to be with Cody. He’s not sure why he wants that so badly… at first.

**

I had such a visceral reaction to this story. I grew up in that town (not literally, but almost – Colorado instead of Wyoming – but the wind still blew all the time, it was cold, there was nothing to do but get in trouble and we didn’t have MTV either!) so I know exactly how it feels to live in a town and your only fantasy is about the day you graduate so you can leave and never look back.

Of course, it’s different if in addition to all that other stuff you have to deal with the threat of gay-bashing and AIDS and losing your parents’ love too…

I thought Marie did an amazing job of letting the fear be real but not crushing for these boys. She gave them some real hope in a way that felt plausible and authentic. God, it would be so easy to turn this story into another Brokeback Mountain, but thankfully we get a HFN – probably a HEA to look forward to. (With one exception… so sad…)

I guess this book just really made me think and be thankful we live in a “different” world now… at least there’s more information out there and resources and less? fear… I hope so at least.

Anyhow, this is a very moving book that is well written and very compelling. There’s not a bunch of sex in it, it wouldn’t really feel right anyway, but there’s a lot of emotion and heart.

I highly recommend it and give it 4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Categories
4.5 stars Angst Level Book College/University coming of age Contemporary Exploration Friends to lovers Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse m/m Mild/low level heat New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Opposites attract Purchased Virgin young adult

The Way You Are by LJ Mile

way you areBlurb

By the time he reaches college, Robert is an expert at hiding his feelings—with a few side effects. If he has a little attraction towards boys now and again, he can bury it with a candy bar and go on living the life his parents want for him. The only thing he never expected was that he’d meet someone who would like him just as he was, flaws and all. Now his emotional armor has stopped working and he’ll be forced to decide which life he wants for himself.

 

 

Review

Robert starts to “notice” other boys around the age of 13. His ultra-conservative family will freak out if he lets those feelings blossom, so he begins to subvert his feelings into food. Things get worse as puberty continues until he’s officially obese.

As a college freshman he looks forward to a new life, but is thwarted again by the innocent wonder that is his gay roommate, Pete.

Suddenly his “need” for food becomes even worse.

When he allows himself to explore his feelings for Pete, the food issues don’t go away, they only change to be focused on guilt rather than subversion.

Luckily, Pete and his family are amazing people and Robert ends up exactly where he needs to be.

**

This can be a very painful book for some people – I’m sure. It was hard to read Robert making these bad decisions over and over and over. Not unlike a junkie, he just couldn’t find a healthy way to deal with his emotions.

What bothered me (only a bit) was that I don’t think they author made Pete healthy enough for Robert. In ways he was an enabler only, but mostly just a loving presence that offered blind support without judgment.

I think there is a fine line between loving Robert as a “big guy” and endangering his health, and this danced along the line. Had Robert’s vice been drugs, I think it would have been a more clearly drawn line of zero tolerance and I’m definitely not saying that he needed to diet or be thin, but I think a more firm resolution to work with a therapist so that Robert’s health was out of Pete’s hands would make the most sense.

In any case, I absolutely loved this. Bravo for attacking such a painful and societally shunned subject and YAY to Pete for loving “big guys”!

Highly recommended!

4.5 of 5 stars

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Free on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon Link

http://www.amazon.com/Way-You-Are-L-J-Mile-ebook/dp/B010E8MUBY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1452456706&sr=1-1&keywords=the+way+you+are+by+l.j.+mile

Categories
Angst Level Audiobook Bi-Sexual College/University Contemporary Exploration Friends to lovers Gay Geek/Jock GFY/OFY Heat Index Hidden Lovers Homophobia Hopelessly Crying m/m Mild/low level heat Music/Rock Star Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Purchased Sports Virgin young adult

Social Skills Audiobook by Sara Alva Narrated by Andrew Eiden

 

 

social skillsBlurb

Music is the only form of communication Connor Owens controls. No matter how badly he wishes to fit in, friendly banter and casual conversations have never been his thing. College is yet another social universe he has no clue how to navigate – until he meets Jared, a football player with chestnut eyes and a cocky grin that holds the power to shatter his self-imposed prison. Jared’s attention opens Connor up to a new realm of emotional and physical intimacy. But as Connor’s self-confidence grows, so does his fear that everything will fall apart. Because in this socially stratified world, how long can a relationship between an introverted violinist and a closeted football player really last?

Review

Connor’s first year at university is turning out to be very hard. He’s very shy and socially awkard and gay. He finds a group of friends but is still rather lonely. When he meets (and falls for) Jared, a jock, he’s shocked when his attentions are returned.

Jared is a jock and tries hard to be “a man”. In fact, that’s one of his most identifying “issues”. When he realizes his attraction to men, he tries to be “bi” but finds that if he’s honest, he’s really “gay” and that’s hard for him to accept. He doesn’t want to let his mom down and his friends are kind of jerks about stuff like that.

Jared, however, loves being “the one” for Connor. They click and just feel good together. Jared, however, can’t deal with being public about their relationship and ultimately they split.

When something happens to make Jared realize he can’t let his friends or family expecations rule his life, he realizes he needs Connor more than he ever thought possible.

**

Boy… what to say?

First, it’s easy to love Connor. God, he’s just so painfully shy and geeky and you want to wrap him in a blanket and tell him it all gets better from here. (As a former band-geek I TOTALLY get Connor, so I’m a little attached to his happiness.)

Then there’s Jared… who, let’s face it, acts like a guy in his situation really probably would.

So… on the one hand I commend the author for that feeling of authenticity. I could buy this story as happening. There was some (mild) on page sex but mostly this is a YA book about coming out and coming into your own “selfness”.

I was (of course) rooting for the couple… who wouldn’t… but Jared has a long way to go to convince me he’s worthy of Connor and I’m not sure we quite got there. Jared’s kind of a jerk and though I think (especially in private) he really cares for Connor, are they really likely to succeed (long term) as a couple… meh… I don’t know.

But… FWIW I do think they come really close to being a good example of “first love” and gave both characters their first taste at being true to themselves.

So… the die hard romantic in me wasn’t very satisfied, but the more pragmatic reader of stories recognizes that this is a well written book full of really well developed and realistic characters that touches on some important topics in growing up and does it very well.

(I LOVE the cover and really, really want to give that boy a big hug!)

Audio

I thought Andrew Eiden did a good job with the narration. I liked how he handled the emotions and though he didn’t do a lot to “act” or give special voices to the characters, he was easy to listen to and made for a good way to experience this story.

4 of 5 stars

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(Copy purchased for review)

Sara Alva Presents

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Social-Skills-Audiobook/B00NIYVOW8/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1441569197&sr=1-1

Categories
Angst Level Bi-Sexual College/University coming of age Contemporary Established Couple Exploration Friends to lovers Geek/Jock GFY/OFY Heat Index Hockey Homophobia m/m Mild level angst Mild/low level heat New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased second chance at love young adult

Bully and Exit (Midwest Series book 1) by Brigham Vaughn

bully exitBlurb

Theater student Caleb Stockwell is ready to leave college behind. Too bad his past isn’t ready to let him go.

With less than a month to go until graduation, Caleb runs into Nathan Rhodes at a house party. Nathan is a star hockey player for Western Michigan University and finally ready to step out of the closet. He’s also the guy who broke Caleb’s heart in high school.

Nathan’s determined to make amends for what he did four years ago, but Caleb isn’t willing to risk getting his heart stomped on again. With only a few weeks left before they go their separate ways, it’ll take all of Nathan’s creativity and help from some interfering friends to convince Caleb to give him a second chance.

Review

Caleb and Nate met in their senior year of high school. Caleb wasn’t sure of his sexual orientation, but he knew he was sometimes attracted to guys and girls. Nate was pretty sure he was gay, but was in no way prepared to act upon his desires.

When Caleb catches Nate’s eye, they begin a hidden affair – mostly innocent – that ends in disaster on Prom night.

Now, it’s four years later and though they’ve been at the same university, they’ve not met up again. Until now. It’s one month before graduation and when Nate sees Caleb at a party he just knows he has to do what he can to both let Caleb know how much he’s changed, how sorry he is and how much he’d like to start over again.

Caleb has been carrying around a lot of pain and anger from the incident in high school and can’t let it go. With the urging of his friends and family and a relentless pursuit by Nate, he finally agrees to sit down and hear Nate’s side of the story.

In the end we get a very solid HFN that looks promising and a very satisfying end to the pursuit.

**

I really liked this book. I was worried because I don’t like “second chance loves” as a general rule. (For me that first meet is what really pushes my buttons) but in a way we get that too as a series of flashbacks into the boy’s high school life.

There is lots of talk of sex and some uncomfortable discussions of past lovers, but only one real sex scene between the MCs. So, to me, this reads as just barely a NA book and almost a YA book.

I appreciated, however, that the reactions of both guys felt pretty authentic and age-appropriate.

If you are a fan of second chances, college romance and geek/jock pairings – give this one a try!

4.5 of 5 stars

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(Copy Purchased for Review)

Amazon Presents
http://www.amazon.com/Bully-Exit-Midwest-Book-1-ebook/dp/B011BZWO6A/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1442196151&sr=1-1&keywords=bully+and+exit

Categories
Angst Level Audiobook College/University Contemporary Exploration Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Hidden Lovers Homophobia Hopelessly Crying Hurt/Abuse m/m Mid level steam/heat New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased Sports Wrestling young adult

Pinned Audiobook (SSU Book one) by Maris Black Narrated by Chris Patton

pinnedBlurb

On his first day of college, all Jeremy Miller can think about is getting away from his hellish home life, making the wrestling team, and finally getting a real boyfriend. He’s sick to death of being used by closeted football players who are too afraid to admit they like guys. What he doesn’t count on is losing his mind over the gorgeous, golden-eyed wrestling captain who needs to keep their attraction a secret at all costs.
After earning a full-ride wrestling scholarship and getting accepted into an elite sports medicine program, Beck thinks he’s got it made. Now he’s a favorite for the national championship in his weight class. Life has never been sweeter or more predictable. Never mind that he’s gay and wishing he didn’t have to hide it. There will be plenty of time for a social life after graduation. Until then he doesn’t need anything to get in the way of his big plans, and that includes the adorable little wrestler who’s got him all tied up in knots.

Review

This is a complex YA/NA story about two wrestlers finding love in a sport that is fairly homophobic, but in this case their coach is dangerously homophobic.

There is a lot of sex in this – so I think for groupings New Adult is more appropriate, but the angst and drama and sometimes over-the-topness sometimes felt more Young Adult.

Beck’s is gay but closeted, doesn’t want to lose his wrestling scholarship. Jeremy is the new guy, super attracted and attractive to Becks, but having to fight against the fear of outing.

The first part of the book is their push-pull of attraction, the second part is dealing with the aftermath.

The second part is where (for me) it got a bit too dramatic at times, though I appreciated the overall statements that get made and the end result. (I won’t say but it involves the Coach in a very bad way and Jeremy makes some decisions that are really hard to witness.)

At the end we get a very satisfying HEA and our MCs manage to bring the bad guy to justice! (I loved the whole Batman/Robin switcheroo underwear thing – very clever!)

Audio

Well I just love Chris Patton so I loved the hell out of this narration. He’s so easy to listen to and I think this hits his “age level” spot on. Kind of young, but mature enough for some hot man on man action. ☺

4.5 of 5 stars

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(Copy purchased for review)

Maris Black Presents

http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Pinned-Audiobook/B00YSSPEUQ

Categories
Angst Level Audiobook Bi-Sexual College/University Contemporary Dreamspinner Exploration Friends to lovers Gay Geek/Jock GFY/OFY Heat Index High School Homophobia m/m Mid level angst Mid level steam/heat New Adult Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Purchased Sports Virgin Wrestling young adult

Superhero Audiobook by Eli Easton Narrated by Tristan Wright

 

SuperheroAUDMEDBlurb

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.

Review

Owen and Jordy have been friends since forever. Jordy is the arty, small boy to Owen’s large, jock, wrestling counterpart. When Jordy comes out Owen protects him and together they make a comic about a superhero who looks suspiciously like Owen with a counterpart who is suspiciously like Jordy.

Once, in a swimming pool, things between Jordy and Owen crossed the line – but Owen wasn’t ready for something like that, so it gets “tabled”. They remain friends, and in fact the three of them (Jordy, Owen and Emily – Owen’s long standing girl friend) remain tight throughout high school.

Eventually these guys face graduation and moving on to college. It’s at this crossroads that Owen must decide where his loyalties lie. Emily has decided on Smith – no wrestling there!- and her own career path. Owen had thought Jordy and he would be together forever, but when Jordy chooses something different, Owen has to come to grips with the fact that he can do without a lot of things – Jordy isn’t one of them.

**

You know I’m a huge Eli Easton fan (all my previous reviews can be found here:  http://kimichanexperience.com/?s=Eli+Easton or on GoodReads https://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=Eli+Easton), so this was right up there among the top titles of favorite books. The best part is that though it is YA, there’s an appropriate amount of hot smexy times, done just like Eli knows how to do ‘em!

The HEA and feels in this book are wonderful, as are the very well developed MCs and secondary characters.

Eli’s writing is always crisp and flowing, smart and engaging. She makes you laugh and say “awwww” every time.

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

I highly recommend this to any fan of the GFY/friends-to-lovers theme, don’t be dissuaded by the age, it’s just as hot as you’d want it to be!

 

Audio

Tristan Wright is a new narrator to me, but he does an excellent job with the narration. He doesn’t do anything over the top as far as voicing or acting goes, but he’s easy to listen to and does a nice job with the emotions and making the story come to life.

 

5 of 5 stars

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(Copy purchased for review)

Dreamspinner Presents

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5193