The Stud (It’s Just Us Here #5) by Christopher X. Sullivan: Review by Lost in a Book
An asexual man is now in a sexual relationship with a male model… and is in over his head.
Chris and Mark’s relationship evolves. Both men learn to depend on the other during trying times. Chris is in the closet with his family, but Mark doesn’t add pressure and remains a solid support. Meanwhile, Mark is struggling to reconnect with his parents and older sisters and Chris is the catalyst that enables the vain male model to return home.
All good things must come to an end, and if you’ve read this far in the series, you should know that the last few chapters of this book contain the long-foreshadowed Big Fight. This self-portrait was written as a romance… but not every story gets a happy ending.
[The Stud is Book Five in a ten book series. You can read this as the mid-point of a four book arc. You should probably read the friends-to-lovers story (contained in the first three books) to understand the fullness of the characters, but this isn’t strictly necessary. Book One, Book Four and Book Eight all serve as ‘jumping in’ points for the series.
It’s Just Us Here: The Stud is a 118,000 word journey of two men connecting in a deep, spiritual way as they navigate a sexual relationship while juggling careers, friends and family.]
The Stud is definitely my favorite so far on the journey of Chris and Mark in It’s just Us Here. Apparently I’m a masochist because this one hurt and I loved it. Not the pain they went through, but that it makes you feel throughout the entire book.
For most of this book, there’s a surface level feeling of happiness between the MCs. They seem to be on the same page, in love, and increasing their sexual exploration. But, lurking under the surface is pain and heartbreak evident from the very beginning. I could *feel* the decline of their relationship in the little moments; the moments that seem insignificant but have huge implications for the future.
“We had our differences and they were plain to see… and it wouldn’t be easy to work around my limitations… but it was so easy to be with Mark”
Mark and Chris are trying to please the other person at a detriment to themselves and it’s impossible to keep up without breaking. The closet scene with Mark was soooooooo sad to me. The lengths Mark is willing to go to keep Chris close when it goes against his very nature just ripped my heart out. There are so many red flags along the way that made me want to stop and scream, “WOULD YOU JUST ACTUALLY TALK TO EACH OTHER.” I don’t want lack of communication to be confused with using a misunderstanding or miscommunication trope in a romance novel. This is real life and it’s as if Chris and Mark are trying so hard to be together, be everything the other person could ever want or need, that they lose themselves in the process. They stop speaking up on the big and little things that might not always be of major importance but to them, it’s another crack in the crumbling foundation.
So sadness be damned, I loved this book. Not to worry though, there are many reminders that the overall “story” ends with a HEA. They just have to find a way to repair all these cracks or demolish the building and start over. Remember that this is a REAL story. About real men, dealing with real emotions and real life events. Definitely recommended.
Trigger- addiction, depression
Copy provided for honest review.