adult - 18+ College/University Contemporary Dreamspinner Exploration Friends to lovers Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index m/m Mid level angst Mid level steam/heat New Adult Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Purchased

If I Must by Amy Lane


Joel Martinez, a practical and organized computer programmer, is roommates with Ian Cooper, a certified IQ-in-the- stratosphere mathematical genius who literally can’t find his own underwear in the mess of his day-to-day life. When Joel uneasily leaves Ian for the holidays, he ends up telling stories to his sister and discovers he feels much more for Ian than he thought. So when Ian calls, distraught because the only other thing in his life that loves him (a half-feral cat named Manky Bastard) is going to have to be put down, Joel hurries back home hoping that opposites really do attract.

Part of the Dreamspinner Press “Mistletoe Madness” advent calendar


In this short story, Joel has a roommate, Ian who is a bit of a hot-mess. Ian has a huge IQ but not a great grasp on the mundane. Joel is a steadying influence and a great friend.

When Joel goes home for Thanksgiving it becomes clear to both guys that they mean something more to the other – more than just a body to come home to or someone to watch out for the laundry.


What I loved about this story – besides the humor – is the great development we see of Joel as a “clueless gay” guy. Without hitting us on the head, through a lovely demonstration of show (not tell) Amy exposes the subtle ways that Joel creeps from “buddy” , to “close friend”, to potential lover. In his language, accent and the use of the word “papi”. It’s wonderful! Such a short book but we get a great movement from just met through several months and I didn’t feel like I missed anything!

Of course, when we have these short stories, I am always sad to see them end and hopeful to see these guys again in the future – but it was a great look at this new “OFY” relationship and a definite HEA… even though… Amy had to give us some angst… poor Manky Bastard 🙁

6 of 5 stars


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Purchased for Review

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