The Book of Beginnings: It’s Just Us Here (Unfinished Self-Portrait)

The Book of Beginnings: It’s Just Us Here: Review by Lost in a Book for @BMBR

The Book of Beginnings: It's Just Us Here

Blurb:

An asexual man meets a male model… and slowly falls in love.
Chris is a nerdy bookworm with a very direct personality. He tends to take jokes literally. He doesn’t like small talk.

Chris has never been sexually attracted to anyone in real life, though he can look at photos and think up exciting scenarios in his head… as long as the people are all wearing clothes. Porn is definitely a no go.

Mark is a charismatic, beautiful man with a pretty person job and pretty person problems. He’s very pushy.

Mark is also struggling with a summer college course for business writing. Luckily, Chris makes a living from his writing and always falls for a sob story… so he ends up helping the model with his assignment.

After a chance encounter in Chris’ favorite park, the two men’s lives slowly entangle until the pair become inseparable.

First Chris and Mark become friends, then companions, then partners, then lovers… and then they get engaged, married and… finally… adopt a very amazing kid.
This is their story… or, well, I guess it’s my story. I’m Chris and I wrote this. It’s very weird to refer to myself in the third person, so I’m going back to first person now.

Mark didn’t tell me he was into guys until I was very much in love with him. Anytime he got close to telling me the truth, I would instinctively pull back. But I never ran away completely, and he kept coming after me.

I guess you’ll have to read the book to understand why.

[ADVISORY: I’d just like to make sure you know that this book is not the complete love story between me and my husband. I’ve broken my story up into ten 100,000 word installments. Each installment follows its own ‘arc’. There are four ‘super arcs’ typical of romance novels spread over the ten installments.

“The Book of Beginnings” contains the beginning of each of those ten installments. So we’re going to jump through time quite a bit. These ‘beginnings’ total over 140,000 words and the final project will be over 1,000,000 words.
Don’t worry, I will finish this story. It’s terribly important to me. But it is huge. So I will also be posting an Abridged Version, which will consist of the chapters in “The Book of Endings” and “The Book of Beginnings”.

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5 Stars

I tried to type a review for this a few times and finally realized that it’s impossible. So, I’ve decided to provide a warning: incoherent ramblings ahead on this memoir-romanceish book. Before we commence to the ramblings, I think it’s important to know that this isn’t a conventional romance, it’s a true “story.” Please see the author’s special note in the blurb. More books are in the works that break down important stages of the MCs relationship with a full arc. This book is strictly the beginnings of each of those stages coming together to form the Book of Beginnings. Make sense? Fabulous.

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Chris: Asexual man, writer, friend, worrier, planner

Mark: Model, highly sexual, laid back, incredibly social

These two men come together randomly in a park after Chris’ typical Monday run. Chris is on a bench writing and Mark is a lonely man looking for a friend. From their first meeting, it’s a whirlwind where they create their own boundaries on what it means to be friends, lovers, partners, and eventually parents. Chris and Mark come from diverse backgrounds, have diverse sexual appetites, opposite personalities, and experience real life growing pains as they move through each stage of their relationship.

Book of Beginnings is written in the format of a romance novel but the situations these men face aren’t romanticized. The writing style is easy to breeze through but the angsty content isn’t easy to read. There was so much more feeling involved while reading this book because I couldn’t forget that these are real people with issues that aren’t sugar coated. Having to *see* the struggle Chris and Mark go through in their intimacy was gut wrenching, especially from Chris’ POV as he tries to be all his partner needs sexually while still being very much an asexual man at his core. Early on my heart was breaking for Mark as I could see the love he had for Chris but couldn’t fully release his feelings. Another difficult aspect of this story is the dynamic between Mark and Chris. Mark’s personality is larger than life and he has such a pull over Chris. It may seem like Mark steamrolls (and rightfully so, sometimes) Chris into capitulating often- but Mark knows Chris and is able to nudge him out of the comfort zone he likes to exist in. Mark usually has Chris’ best interests at heart and even though he may be resisting something, a part of him seems to crave it as well.

It’s a captivating read that allows us to focus on the emotional aspect of them falling in love way before physical intimacy is introduced. I adore the connection they have, the foundation they build, and the growth each man makes toward their HEA.

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Y’all, I was hooked from the beginning. It’s a beast of a book in length but I couldn’t put it down. I pretended to be productive and do adult things but I was really just reading this and when I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about reading it.

Was it perfect? No, but it’s a work in progress and the author makes that point clear multiple times. As mentioned above, The Book of Beginnings: It’s Just Us Here is written in an unconventional format, needs more editing, has incomplete “story” arcs, has multiple big-moment time lapses, and missing very important bits of their lives. All of those are noted in the blurb warning. Did I care? Not one teeny tiny bit. I went all Dr. Seuss on this book and would read it in a boat, with a goat, in the rain, on a train… (I’m a dork, sorry *shrug*)

There were times I wanted to scream at my kindle because I just had to know what happened only for it to have a time jump. This actually reminds me of a CliffsNotes version for their life story with the main parts coming out as their own books over the next year.

At the heart of this book is a “story” of two people meeting, loving each other, and then falling in love. Life can be a major bitch sometimes and still, Chris and Mark find a way to love on their own terms as the relationship evolves into something deeper. Something real. Something beautiful and imperfectly perfect.

I’m SO frakin’ glad I chose to take a chance on this love story and I’m looking forward to reading the first full installment. This author now has a new stalker stage-10 clinger big fan. Highly recommended.

Copy provided for honest review.

Fence Installments 1-3

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This installment series  by C.S. Pacat is such an interesting concept that I couldn’t stay away. A M/M comic series? Yes, please!!! I dove in head first and was finished in less than 30 minutes. Each installment is super short as we follow Nicholas and Seiji on their fencing journey.

Installment 1 (4 Stars): This is where Nicholas and Seiji first meet. I was giddy after reading this just dreaming about the potential.

Installment 2 (4 Stars): This had some great build-up as Nicholas and Seiji are forced to live together and compete against each other for the remaining spots on the team. The tension was great and again, held promise. Of course I raced on to Installment 3.

*Insert dramatic music*

Installment 3 (3 Stars): This is where it fell apart for me. It had the vibe of just being a filler installment. It read like a fencing handbook with very little plot advancement and relational development.

I know, I know… put your pitchforks away. It isn’t the most popular opinion but if each teeny tiny installment (minus the 1st @ $1.99) is $3.99, I need more than proper fencing mechanics. I’m interested in their story but may need to wait until it’s complete to determine whether I’ll continue on the journey.

I will add that the illustrations were beautifully done and added so much to the text. Here’s a sample.

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Life According to Maps

4.5 Stars

*Sigh* I wish I was friends with a Maps in high school. #Missedopportunity I know they’re out there quirky as can be just dazzling the rest of the population with their unusual wit, endearing outlooks, and matter of fact way that they own who they are. Which is total fabulousness BTW. And so was the way he had complete unconditional love from his parents. Like it should be.

Book 1 had everything I love in a quirky YA with the coming of age feels. Lane was perfection puke-worthy and balanced Maps’ erratic nature.

“Lane grinned at him—that big, honest, dolt of a grin, and Maps knew why his brain had told his mouth to puke words on Lane. He was definitely puke-worthy.”

The support cast of Benji, Sprinkle, and Maps’ parents added so much. Did I mention it’s funny? Seriously, I was cracking up at Maps’ crazy ass antics.

I’m moving right along to the next one. Definitely recommended.

3.5 Stars

I liked this one, just not as much as the first. I didn’t really get a clear picture of Lane which was understandable in the first book but I would have appreciated more character development in book 2.

I loved the addition of the extremely sassy Perry and his friendship with Maps while Lane is at baseball camp. There wasn’t much happening in this book outside of Maps’ internal monologues and his silly antics. I didn’t appreciate the antics as much in book 2 because I was hoping for more growth in their relationship instead of more experiments. Still enjoyable but I liked book 1 better. On to the next.

4 Stars

AHA!!! It took until this book to figure out who Maps reminded me of. *smh* I don’t know why I didn’t see it earlier but his personality, his literal understanding of friends, their conversations, the world, and his genius nerdiness had me wracking my brain on why he seemed so familiar…

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BAZINGA! Maps is a younger version of Sheldon. It’s amazing how he makes it day to day without endangering himself and the world around him.

My enjoyment level increased in this one and I was starting to get the feels of book one back. We get to see Maps kinda sorta grow up an itty bitty bit during this book as the group of friends decide what life after high school will be while Maps plans out ways to get the “true high school experience.”

I really enjoyed these books as Maps came to life. Not gonna lie though, I was REALLY bummed that there wasn’t an epilogue. I need to know where they go from here. I also need to see what happens with Percy and Benji, if anything. So with love for Maps but disappointment because I wanted more, I’ll hold out hope that we get more Maps one day.

Rule Breaker

4.5 Stars

Alright, let’s be real… anyone else think they were getting the typical light hearted, funny, hot for your boss office romance? *Raises hand* That’s what I thought when I decided to give it a go. I was all geared up to be smiling like a cheeseball and getting my fill of hot office sex with the window door desk getting notable mention(s).

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This had a Fifty Shades feel to it but less Red Room of Pain and more hot and rich mercurial bastard that knows how to wield a Fleshlight. Gabe. *wipes drool* I wanted to throttle him for most of the book. But when he was brought to his knees by the very thing he spent his whole life avoiding…Puddle. Of. Goo.

I’m a big fan of the boss-employee office romance. There is just something about them that hooks me every time. In my professional world, 99% of my bosses were women and 99% of the staff under me were women. Clearly, I’m a fan of the peen and since my offices seemed to be releasing testosterone repellent through the air ducts, I never got to have the hot male boss experience. *sad face*

Very early on we are treated to an extremely snarky relationship between Gabe(boss) and Dylan(assistant). They communicated with dry wit, sarcasm and a side of crude which was also funny AF. As the blurb says, they have a platonic relationship until they don’t. I wasn’t prepared for how Gabe was written and the incident that brought their attraction out in the open. I don’t want to give the incident away but I will say that Gabe lives his bachelor life to the fullest and I had a completely different mental image of him until that scene. Both MCs were so oblivious as to how the other felt for much of the book but yet were so electric together. My heart hurt at their cluelessness and the situations, actions, and words they spoke as they tried to keep on going with the status quo.

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Gabe’s past isn’t for the faint-hearted and it fills in the holes as to why he is the way he is. Although their “relationship” started off as casual, it quickly grew and felt like more. Dylan did his best to hold on and try to keep his heart from completely shattering. Gabe’s hot but I loved Dylan and his backbone of steel. He loved Gabe and was partially blinded by sex. However, when the other shoe dropped and shit hit the fan, Dylan was done (warning: separation period). Not gonna lie, there were some WTF moments that you just have push through. I also appreciated the journey they took after everything went wrong. Heartbreak is never easy and many times in romance, MCs are quick to forgive. This was a hard-fought HEA-war filled with many ugly battles that had to be won before they could taste the sweet victory of togetherness.

I really enjoyed this book. The depth of the characters and the circumstances they had to work through set this apart from many other office romances. It kept my attention and for about half the book, I truly couldn’t fathom how they would finally get together. It had steamy sex and the chemistry was off the charts. Seriously. Hot AF.

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If you like office romances, characters with depth, and detailed epilogues, you’ll be a happy camper. Definitely recommended.