Tag Archives: M/M

Review: Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Deb’s Review of Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
New Adult (M/M) Contemporary Romance released by Rennie Road Books on July 28, 2015

HimThey don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend…and a big one to learn about himself.

Warning: contains sexual situations, skinnydipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition. (less)

Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy have blended their unique voices and amazing writing talents to create an unforgettable love story. I have always had a weakness for M/M novels since reading Mary Renault’s series about Alexander the Great. It’s a relic, and quite tame by today’s standards, but Ms. Renault blew my mind with her tender love story of Alexander and his best friend. Their’s was also a friends to lovers story; both students of Aristotle, then warriors in battle together, their love had no limits and held no fears. I’ve never forgotten Ms. Renault’s magnificent and moving novel. Him has these same beautiful qualities that will have me remembering these characters for a long time.

Friendship, crazy challenges, and playing the best sport in the world – ice hockey. That’s what Jamie Canning and Ryan “Wes” Wesley share every summer for six years at Elites hockey training camp in Lake Placid. Roommates from the start, their friendship grows stronger each year. Until the final summer before college, when one last challenge on the ice results in a bet that changes everything between them.

Have you ever been fired by a friend?

Jamie has no idea why Wes suddenly cut off all communication at the end of hockey camp four years ago. He’s almost forgotten how much it hurt. Now that both of their college teams are in the Frozen Four championship and he may come face to face with Wes, that hurt suddenly slaps him in the face. Jamie isn’t quite sure what to do about it: he only knows the loss of their friendship left a huge hole in his heart. And isn’t that one confusing admission? Because the feelings he’s had for Wes all these years just might go beyond friendship.

How do you apologize to someone for cutting them out of your life without so much as an explanation?

Wes has spend four long years trying to forget the day he took advantage of his best friend. At least, that’s what he believes he did with that crazy bet. Now, being thrown together for the Frozen Four is a wake up call. Wes realizes he’s been the only one harboring all these ridiculous feels for a man he has no chance with. He’s certain his very straight friend chalked it up to a big fat drunken mistake and hasn’t put an ounce of importance on it. Which is why Wes needs to man up, apologize after all these years, and make like it wasn’t the most memorable night of his life. He wants Jamie back in his life and will take whatever he can get. So he signs up for one last summer at hockey camp, this time as a fellow counselor.

Once again roommates, Wes and Jamie ease back into the friendship they’d abandoned. Both about to embark on careers in pro hockey, this is one last hurrah before the real world becomes all too real. This is their chance to explore what might be much more than a friendship. With seemingly nothing to lose, both allow themselves to give in to desires bottled up for years. The chemistry between these two is staggering. The sex intense. The banter funny and real.

The alternating chapters between Wes and Jamie wonderfully illustrate their distinct personalities. I anticipated each man’s version of the story as it unfolds seamlessly. The most refreshing aspect of Him is what it is not. It’s not about Wes’ struggle with being gay. He accepts it. It’s not about Jamie freaking out over Wes’ attraction to him or his own attraction to Wes. And it’s not about either one of them caring what others think, including Wes’ douchecanoe (love that, Ms Kennedy & Ms. Bowen!) of a dad.

Him is about being true to oneself, loving with abandon, and offering your heart without fear. I fell in love with Wes, Jamie, and Jamie’s  northern California hippie-ish family. Everyone should be so lucky to have one. In short, I loved everything about this amazing novel. Brava, Ms. Kennedy and Ms. Bowen.

Grade: A

You can buy a copy here.

 

Review: The Only Gold by Tamara Allen

Liz’s Review:

The Only Gold by Tamara Allen
Historical romance released by Dreamspinner Press on March 21, 2011

Jonah Woolner’s life is as prudently regulated as the bank where he works. It’s a satisfying life until he’s passed over for promotion in favor of newcomer Reid Hylliard. Brash and enterprising, Reid beguiles everyone except Jonah, who’s convinced Reid’s progressive ideas will be the bank’s ruin. When Jonah begins to discover there’s more to Reid than meets the eye, he risks succumbing to Reid’s charms—but unlocking the vault to all of Reid’s secrets could lead him down a dangerous path.

Losing his promotion—and perhaps his heart—is the least of Jonah’s difficulties. When the vengeful son of a Union army vet descends upon the bank to steal a government deposit of half a million dollars during the deadliest blizzard to ever sweep New York, Jonah and Reid are trapped, at odds and fighting for their lives.

The Only Gold begins as Jonah prepares for what he expects to be a promotion within the bank and the bank’s upgrade to National status as they accept a large deposit from the government.  When Reid takes the promotion instead, Jonah is swamped with anger, jealousy, and insecurity.  No matter how hard he tries to appear unaffected, he cannot help butting heads with Reid as he implements change after change to Jonah’s beloved bank.

Jonah’s family turned their backs on him because of his proclivities, and the bank became his haven.  He looks at it as if it were a living thing that he needs to protect from harm and degradation.  Reid is the wrench in the works of Jonah’s love of the bank, making changes hand over fist and forcing him to come along for the ride or leave forever.  Jonah is heart breaking to read as he struggles with his growing feelings for Reid and begins to blossom as a man once love begins to take hold.

Reid is a complex character.  At first he appears to be a man that is wholly fixated on bringing the bank into the present and doing away with the old ways of doing things.  And he seems most insistent on deviling Jonah in the process.  Then the author teases us with little glimpses of Reid’s nature:  the charmer, the playful young man, the reverent son, and finally….the lover.  There is more to Reid than meets the eye, and he is one of the best written characters I’ve come across in a long time.  His character kept me guessing, as surprise after surprise were thrown up in the storyline.

There are a number of incredible secondary and tertiary characters, from the employees of the bank, to the renters in the boarding house where Jonah lives, and finally to the bank robbers who had their own skewed view of right and wrong.

The Only Gold is the story of a romance between two men and the love scenes between them are not explicit.  Rather, they weave the emotion of the growing bond between the two, sharing the intimacy of the nights together in a way that leaves it to the readers’ imagination.

This award winning novel is well worth the read to anyone who enjoys historical romances with a unique twist.  While the average romance novel that takes place in the late 1800s tends to overflow with descriptions of ball gowns and dance cards, those are exchanged here for waistcoats and bank ledgers but are no less enchanting in their detail.  Well written, engaging, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Grade: B+