*~~*ARC kindly provided by the author to me in exchange for an honest review *~~*
A small-town in the Deep South isn’t where most gay men would choose to go looking for love. But open hearts will find a way…
Growing up in the Bible Belt, Paul Dunham learned from a young age to hide his sexuality. Now he’s teaching psychology at a conservative college in Georgia—and still hiding who he really is. If Paul hopes to get tenure, he needs to keep his desires on the down-low. But when an old college crush shows up on campus—looking more gorgeous than ever—Paul’s long-suppressed urges are just too big for one little closet to hold . . .
Brandon Mercer has come a long way since his freshman year fumbling’s with Paul. Now he’s confident, accomplished, proudly out—and the sexiest IT consultant Paul’s ever seen. When Brandon asks Paul to grab some coffee and catch up, it leads to a steamy reunion that puts their first night of passion to shame. But when Paul’s longtime crush turns into a full-time romance, he receives an anonymous email threatening to expose their secret to the world. If Paul stays with Brandon, his teaching career is over. Yet if he caves under pressure, he risks losing the one true love he’s been.
Normally when it comes to books I avoid other reader’s reviews until I’ve read the book by myself – mostly not to spoiler myself with details or opinions. This time though I took a look and was a bit biased by the reviews and the general ranking on Goodreads. Still, because I judge books and be able to value things by my own and maybe differently I started this book with ignoring/blind out the other reviews.
Whereas I don’t agree with parts of the other reviewers – I do it in detail in a minute – I agree that the book is in severe need of a better formatting. Words were clued together, sometimes it was hard to decipher the words right away.
This should be checked before the release. I’ll download a sample of the book to see if it was corrected. So, beyond this little jolting and unpleasant interruption in the flow of reading I don’t include it in my ranking.
When I first started the book one of the first things I wrote down in my notes was Paul’s character. Although he is pleasant and nice, he comes a bit dull and his life is pretty boring. I can relate when people say he didn’t catch the attention, still I saw something in him. He lives very deep in the closet, seems insecure but during the book you see it’s mostly involuntary. Paul doesn’t lack exactly of “action” or self-confidence, it’s more that is surpressed after all these years of being the “perfect” Christian son and member of the society. Working in a religious school isn’t the best place to confess he is gay but he isn’t eager to change his lifestyle.
Paul really touched me with his acceptance of his slightly boring, uneventful live. Until he reunites with Brandon, his college crush and one of his first sexual encounter. Brandon is everything Paul isn’t. He is smart and witty, a bit nerdy, and first and formost he is pretty outgoing. He works for an IT firm and is ordered to help Paul’s school to investigate in a security problem. Which leads to revealings of Paul’s past and to a surprising twist in the events.
I really liked how Wendy Qualls included the cyber-crime subplot. With interest myself in computer science and a loads of friends working in this field, it was really pleasant and neither boring nor incomprehensable what Brandon worked on. In fact he was really cool showing his skills off. 😉 I might or might not have swooned over it at bit. His hot appearance did the rest. 🙂
The revealings at the end and the solution of the whole mess was really great. I enjoyed it very much.
The sex is one of the things dominantly in the book but not the way you maybe expect. There are the encounter, there is the intimacy, of course, and the scenes are really hot and steamy. A lot of blowjobs and handjobs, dirty talk combined with banter. But due to Paul’s personal reasons to stay in the closet there is a hesitance in Paul to really open up first towards Brandon.
For me it was really plesant to see how Brandon gave Paul the necessary time, to adjust with the new situation. After a while both guys notice there were more things going on between them, and the tension was rising.
Some parts of the book were a bit bumpy, they could have been smoothed out, and a few times Brandon’s and Paul’s behaviour were at the border to get a little on the nerves (their both opposite character created a lot of tension), still I could relate to them, to their anger or hesitance. For maybe other reader this doesn’t work fine and especially Brandon’s behaviour at the end was a bit tough to accept. Still, I could sense there his hidden feelings, his hurt, I was not repulsed or annyed by his actions. Maybe they were imature, sure, but his actions weren’t done in malice.
This debut work was a good start and I first was devided in giving 3.5 or 4 stars. At the end it deserves the 4. Other might reduce the stars because of the bad formatting/editing in some parts of the book but this is only a thing I mention but it doesn’t dull the book’s content.
As a conclusion I’ve to say: don’t let yourself scare by other reviews. Download a sample of the book and read it by yourself. Also give new authors a chance. 🙂
The story plot and the execution of it was promising, the character lack sometimes of a few smoothen parts but all in all 4 out of 5 stars worth. 🙂