Underneath It All, book 4 in the Decadent Series, by Elaine White
Underneath it all, he just wants to be normal.
I am up to read more books from Zoe Rider. I really liked this one, it was light, a bit fluffy, more like a slice of life... a coming of age. There isn't any misunderstandings, any miscommunications, any love triangle, any angst.. it was refreshing.
Starts a bit gloomy. Shane has to move out from his dorm because his roommate committed suicide. His new roommate is Derek. They become friends rather fast. In fact, Shane likes to hang out more with Derek than with his two former friends. Later on, Shane hears from his friend that Derek sells leather stuff online: wallets, belts... and also cuffs and harnesses. When Shane needs some cash to buy a guitar, he offers to model these leather things to improve the image online. Once he wears these cuffs, he realizes he is into this kind of thing (like, really really into) so he makes the first move.
It took longer for me to warm towards Derek. Shane was a likable character, very boyish but with a easy going personality and also very honest. He was a bit weak when it was related to his parents, but since he just finished school, it was understandable (also, being only son and having such parents). His mother was so suffocating. This book is like, 80% dialogue, and the rest is narration. Well, his mother talks and talks and talks. And she is constantly there. As in, Shane is in college and living in dorms, but his mother insists to be part of his life, thru many visits and phone calls. A few times, when Shane was with Derek inside the room, I was afraid his mother would burst in and catch them on action (it doesn't happen, thank heavens).
Like I pointed out, I did not like Derek so much until after the first half of the book. Or maybe towards the end. He is nice, he is cool, he cares for Shane and you can tell. When Shane makes the first move, I wasn't convinced of why Derek would let it happen. Why Derek was so willing to continue. Since the book is told from Shane's POV, and Derek was a bit aloof, I wasn't so convinced of his attraction to Shane. And besides, Derek loves to smoke. Honestly, he was like a chimney. Shane loved it, loved to smell the tobacco in him, but I hated it. I much rather have him with that annoying toothpick than a cigarette.
On Derek's side, it is a g4u thing. On Shane's side, I am not sure. He says that he never felt this horny/happy/excited with a girl before, so he may just be a "late" out-of-the-closet guy. There weren't any inner struggles, any anxiety to realize he liked a guy, and instead of bothering me that (cuz I love to read them in my g4u books) I liked it and consider it to be part of Shane's personality. Derek doesn't have any issues about liking a guy for the first time, but that was also part of his aloof personality.
In fact, I did not mind the lack of drama in their coming out (to family and friends). It was all easy and quick (although in Shane's case, his mother was more difficult to handle), but I was OK with all of that. It just felt like a rom-com or something.
Despite Shane and Derek living together, and testing the bondage kinks Derek made, this wasn't a PWP at all. Most of all, they liked to snog (I am not British but I like this expression ;) ). They snog and talk, or talk and have phone sex, and talk and hang out, or talk with lots of touching involve. They make the reader sure they are friends, buddies, that they trust each other and like each others company. That is one of the highlights of the book: that it is more talk than action. The BDSM is super light, more like, nada. Shane likes to be cuffed, and is absolutely thrilled when he uses the harness, and he also uses the cuffs once on Derek, but that's it.
The conclusion to Shane's dilemma was rushed, and I would have preferred to have AT LEAST, 10 pages more. I could not believe it when I was on 97% on my Kindle and there wasn't a solution to his problem yet. So yeah, it ended pretty quickly. I wish there was a novella or something :(.. that is my only concern.
It was better than I thought. I don't know why, but I did not have high expectations. Maybe because when I see that a book is on the gay-for-you shelf I am pretty sure that it is misleading, that it will all be an out-for-you and I will be disappointed again.
Not this book. Wes is gay and has been in love with his BFF since they were teenagers. Years ago, him and Jamie made a bet, Wes lost (on purpose or not) and they had a thing. A thing that made me not-like Wes so much. I think he manipulated Jamie somehow. Sure, Jamie did not say no, was willing in fact, but... Don't know why, but I see it as a manipulation instead of seduction.
So this "thing" **spoiler** [Wes giving Jamie his best BJ experience] made Wes "fire" his bff; meaning, he purposely lost contact with Jamie. Fours years later, they meet again in a hockey convention, and restart their friendship. Since Wes is still in love with Jamie, he volunteers to coach later in the same camp where they had their best moments together, and where Jamie is currently coaching.
Their sexual tension in the camp was very hot. My, that first kiss! All of these scenes -in the pub, playing pool, Jamie being jealous because Wes was flirting with a guy- reminded me of Collide. Best friends that grew apart, one gay, the other straight. The gay one has always been in love with the straight one. Once the straight one knows his friend's sexuality, he has all these confusing thoughts about them.
What can I say, I love this kind of premise. It may be predictable but it still works for me. I love that both were very manly-looking, that they were a bit rough in bed. I love that Wes has a tongue ring -not sure if hockey players, or any kind of athlete, is allowed to have this kind of piercing- because it made their kiss a lot hotter.
What I did not like, though, was the OW (a slang I learned yesterday). I mean, it is good to show that Jamie has been straight all his life until he falls for Wes (after all, I am a fan of g4u) and both Jamie and Holly made it clear from the start that they were friends-with-benefits, but even so, I think he was a jerk with her. And I just dislike that there were scenes between them, especially that one at the beginning after they had sex. No, BOTH times really; after and before they had sex. Sorry but it was a big turn off for me. If authors are going to put M/F in a MM romance, make it behind curtains please.
Also, this is the first time when I think that the "straight" one will eventually miss to be with a girl. Sure, all is nice and romantic and hot at first, being in love with a guy, but there is something in Jamie that made me think he will miss the "soft curves" of a lady. Even when he was with Wes he liked to peek at girls. Yeah it is something that guys do in general, but in my books (in my MM books), I don't want that. He constantly thinks about girls and their curves, he checks them out, he compares being with Wes and being with girls, he even gets horny a couple of times for some girl.
For almost all the book they lived in a bubble of fantasy, in their own room. They were crazy for each other, they had the most awesome steamy scenes, but that was it, like Jamie was living in a bubble. In spite of being friends, they did not talk about their issues, feelings, thoughts. All was based on sex. Jamie did not struggle so much with his new sexuality, something that I wanted. And when he realizes he is bi, he is all "my family will love me anyway" which was too easy. I wanted more conflict, more inner struggles, more mixed feelings. All in all, it was just too easy (also the coming out of Wes) so it was a bit hard for me to root for them, since they did not have any battle to win.
The whole Wes with a mess family + Jamie with an awesome family has been made so many times. A big MEH.
To make this book better, I would take out all scenes with Holly and Jamie, remove that awful statement of Wes of "this will end after 4 weeks", make Jamie and Wes communicate (I don't have much patience with miscommunication) and made them work for their love. On the other hand, I would not change one bit of all the sex scenes; they were spectacular XD
My conclusion: this has a HFN. Sorry Wes, for now Jamie is in love with you, but in time, he will end up with a girl anyway.