"Rob never broke down. He never needed help. He was the rock, and Matty was the bird who flew. It was the way it worked. But as it turned out, Matty was the bird that broke the rock's back."
This book exhausted me, and I so wanted to like it.
I loved the first book in this series, Training Season, so very much. In fact, I even rated it 5 stars and added it to my "favorites" shelf.
For me, it was the perfect mixture of funny and light-hearted in the first half and heartbreaking and moving in the second. Throw in some BDSM light elements for an amazing hurt/comfort and I was perfectly happy. Looking back, I should have been satisfied that it ended on such a perfect note and left it at that.
This book though? Well, let's just say that it's never a good sign when the best part of a book for me are the secondary characters because they bring a much needed comic relief.
This book was angst-fest galore! Everything that was going on between Matty and Rob was so dark and painful to read. Basically, it was hurt/hurt/hurt/hurt/a little comfort/hurt/hurt/hurt.
The story takes place 5 years after the first book, and Matty's eating disorder (or disordered eating) has become worse than ever. Gone is the bratty and flamboyant twink from the first book. Now, all that's left of Matty are his insecureness and his self-loathing. He's insecure about his job, his talent, his relationship, even about his looks.
And this went on and on and on ALL THE TIME. It was so stressful to be in his head that at around the 30% mark, I was just SO OVER IT! I was over his constant self-loathing and selfishness and his endless needs and demands from Rob. The worst thing for me was that he took Rob along with him in his downward spiral.
"Matty, when it came to sex, was the very definition of greedy - more, more, more, and me, me, me was pretty much his chant."
Yeah, that's Matty, the annoying bird, in a nutshell.
I was also this close to be over Rob too, who should have kicked Matty's selfish and demanding ass to therapy, no matter the money. But instead, he tried to help Matty and his illness with sex. Lots and lots of sex. Because the cure to an eating disorder lies in BDSM, obviously. Lovesick doormat is lovesick.
The BDSM scenes that worked so well in the first book became much more extreme and disturbing here. In the first book, they were a means to an end to establish and strengthen the relationship between Matty and Rob, and to give them both what they needed from each other.
Here, the BDSM went from light to very extreme and it was a cry for help on Matty's part and an expression of helplessness on Rob's. Which made for some VERY uncomfortable scenes that I had to skip over most of the parts.
The end made up for most of the frustration, but I was past the point where I cared anymore.
It's not that this is a bad book. Far from it. It's just that I hardly recognized the characters from the first book anymore which I so fell in love with.
And it's also one of those cases where I wished I would have stopped at a certain point in a series and let the MCs just have their HEA. Because I couldn't care less what happens after that. I know that real life is about physical and emotional struggles and financial problems and juggling work with free time. But I just don't want to read about it.
"Was it possible for your dick to be gay, even if the rest of you wasn't?"
Guyyys, this book was BLOODY FANTASTIC and full of surprises!
First, let me tell you that I'm a total wuss when it comes down to those hardcore kinks in my books. I can handle the common BDSM scenes (spanking, flogging, even fisting when it's well-written), but I have a hard time when it comes to the really extreme stuff, like sounding, needle play or blood play.
So when I found out that the MCs, Jeff and Eddie, defined themselves as being a "sadist" and a "painslut", I was a little bit worried. But thankfully the humiliation kink and pain play were kept at a quite tolerable level. Nothing of the above-mentioned extremes to be found here, just your BDSM 101 basics.
The other thing that I wasn't expecting was how very romantic the story would turn out to be in the last 20%. Jeff was such a wonderful character. Stubborn and completely in denial at first about his attraction towards Eddie, and yet his "I'm not gay" shtick never once became annoying or frustrating, which is owed to the superb writing from Josephine Myles. I couldn't help but smile at how much attention he paid to the little things to woo Eddie and how he - once he finally admitted to himself that he really and truly fell for a man and that he absolutely wanted to be with Eddie - completely turned his life around.
So this book took one of my favorite tropes, the "fuck buddies to lovers" trope, and completely delivered. It was such a perfect mixture of funny, kinky, filthy, emotional, romantic, sweet and sexy. I'm a happy camper.
Thanks to Marte for the BR!