Rebel (415 Ink) #1

Reviewed for @BMBR

4.5 Stars

My oh My this was an angsty read.

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On face value it has many of my favorite elements. Rough upbringing? Check. Tattoos? Mmmhmm, Yep. Tortured and broody MC(s)? Oh yes. Then, when I actually started reading it, so many more of my hot spots were being hit. Slow burn, patch-work family, overcoming crippling obstacles, etc… All were a big yes, please. Hell, I was even all about the second chance aspects of this romance when it isn’t something I actively seek.

Three years have gone by since Rey walked away from Gus. Both men have scars from their childhood but Gus’ are much deeper than Rey’s. When he walked away, it reminded Gus of every social worker, judge, foster family, parent, and random person who decided he wasn’t good enough. In the beginning I just thought Gus had a gypsy soul and kept on moving. It isn’t until the surfacing of his kid from a one night stand that he comes back home and we really get to see a different side of him and the effects of his heartbreaking past on his present circumstances.

Rey is a firefighter and best friends/roommates with Gus’ brother, Mason. We learn very early on that Mason pulled Rey out of a fire when they were younger. This solidified their bond as well as Rey’s bond with all of Gus’ brothers. Rey had his reasons for walking away when they were younger but their love for each other hasn’t dimmed over the three years. When Gus moves back to town, they have plenty of encounters and even more time to evaluate their choices.

As I mentioned, this is a slow burn. Both men have baggage and past hurts to work through. It was amazing to *see* how each man held stubbornly to their anger and as time went on, they were able to understand the other’s perspective. I also loved how they had to really work to get to a healthy place without the arrival of the magical peen to help make all the woes go away. Don’t get me wrong, they had chemistry and were H.O.T. together. But, their reconciliation was ugly, beautiful, and real. Their character arc was so transformative and I absolutely enjoyed each step of the way and where they settled.

Let’s talk about the baby mama. I LOVEEEEEEE that this wasn’t written as a bitter ex/one night stand scenario. I was thrilled that all parties acted like adults and Jules wasn’t written to be a she-bitch. Actually, all of the characters acted like adults (minus brotherly shenanigans) and it was refreshing.

It takes the entire book to fully appreciate the complexities of the characters and the role each plays. It reminded me of a kaleidoscope where the patterns can be distorted or crisp with only minor manipulation. The secondary characters of all the brothers added another dimension of angst, confusion, and clarity. Gus and Rey earned their HEA but I think that we’ll understand them even more as each brothers’ story is told. I’m down for that, especially Luke. AND Ivo with his “fuck me heels.” Oh and Bear with him being all big, growly, and soft-hearted. Actually, I just want them all.

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I really really enjoyed this book. There are still holes of information needed but I think the key to understanding each brother individually is to understand them all. Definitely recommended.

“Loving someone doesn’t mean needing them to be what you want them to be or swaddling them in bubble wrap so they can’t move. It means them knowing, deep down inside of their heart, you’re going to be there to hold them when they fall and celebrate when they fly.”

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Copy provided for honest review.

Living Out Loud

Originally reviewed for BMBR on October 24, 2017.

4 Stars

I’m still shaking my bible-thumping traditional upbringing, and he’s as free and eclectic as this town.”

Ben and Xavier reconnect after over a decade of not seeing each other. They were childhood friends that sought solace together when the world around them was cruel and unforgiving. Xavier had found himself and Ben craved that freedom. He wanted to truly live.

Just a warning: I’m not going to give a detailed breakdown of the story because the synopsis is one of the longer and more detailed that I’ve seen.

*waits while you read the synopsis if you haven’t already*

After they connect on Facebook, Ben and Xavier meet up and fall right back into the easy friendship of their youth. Ben can’t help but notice Xavier’s confidence and unapologetic attitude towards who he is and also the casual sex he enjoys. They have very honest conversations about desires and the person Ben wants to become.

Ben decides Xavier is the perfect person to guide him in his new outlook on life. He is so tentative, insecure, and sexually repressed which is the exact opposite of Xavier.

“I want you to show me those things.”

Yep, those things.

They begin a no-strings attached sexual fling. Xavier hears Ben’s plea and graciously accepts to be his “teacher” and guide him with some helping hands, tongue, spanking, toys, and even some red licorice candy used creatively.

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“He’s such a mixture of hunger and nerves. Want and insecurity. I can’t wait to see him bloom—to see him shed the skin that was forced on him and fully embrace who he really is. It’s like he’s being reborn.”

I LOVED Xavier and Ben together. They complimented each other so well. Although they both had shitty childhoods, they fought to accept themselves without reservation. Xavier was Ben’s pierced, knight in tattooed armor. He slayed the demons in Ben’s head every time they crept up while breathing new life. Ben’s confidence grew with every look, word, touch and action that Xavier bathed him in. He was so selfless and understanding while not treating Ben like he was fragile.

As mentioned a wee bit above, they had some sexy times. Xavier was all about helping Ben with a variety of experiences. There was a lot of sex. It was steaming. This book needed a lot of sex due to the sexually repressed nature of Ben and his neurosis that paralleled it. There were some issues to work through that couldn’t have happened if sex wasn’t a big part of the book. I didn’t hate it. At all. The build-up to the first kiss and then when they FINALLY kiss…

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This was a pretty low angst book outside of what Ben has to work through. Which was enough considering the mind fuck his family and the “Pray the gay away” church camp put him through. Anything else heaped on for angst would have been unnecessary. The conflict at the end was predictable but essential. It was a beautifully earned HEA. Definitely recommend.

“I was born this way and I am not a disgrace.”

“I look him in the eye. “It feels incredible. I get to be me. And this me wants you.”

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https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Copy provided for honest review.