Off Campus by Amy Jo Cousins

22857416
Grade: A
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, m/m, NA
Series: Bend or Break #1
Published: 12/30/14
Reviewed by Anne
260 ebook pages

Tom used to be the wealthy son of a wealthy man.  All of that changed when his father went to jail for fraud.  He’d stolen millions from people, leaving them, and his son broke.  Tom has just a few semesters left of college, so he sets to work driving a cab and sleeping in his car so he can earn money to afford the tuition it will take to finish college and have a chance at getting back on his feet.  He’s exhausted and happy to finally be admitted into the off campus dorm for older students, but when he enters the room he finds Reese, who is NOT happy to see Tom.  Reese had been promised a single occupancy dorm room and he’s not going to share the complicated story of how that came to happen.  When they can’t get the college to reassign them to different rooms, Reese sets out on a campaign to make straight man Tom uncomfortable enough to leave of his own accord.  So Tom finds himself coming home again and again to sit in the hall listening to his roommate having sex with other guys.  And he starts to wonder how straight he is and what’s going on with his new roommate anyway?

This book worked for me on every level.  It’s not a light book, but there was plenty of humor, especially with Tom and Reese’s best friends.  You’ve got Tom coming out to himself about his feelings toward Reese, but still struggling with all the crap life has dealt him and just having too much on his plate.  And you’ve got Reese, figuring out how to deal with his past.  The guys cause each other more pain, but it’s not intentional.  It actually made me cry, which I usually hate, but it was so sad and so sweet in parts that I had to cry.

All that makes it sound like it’s a downer of a book, but it’s NOT.  It’s full of hope.  There are no magic penises.  There’s no super-healing amateur sex therapy.  In fact there’s actual therapy with an actual therapist, and it’s helpful, but it’s not overnight.  So, no magic, but lots of hope, and Tom and Reese doing what they need to do to get better for each other.

Besides all that, there’s some super hot sex and sexual tension.  This author can write sex scenes! I can’t wait to read the next one in the series!

Note: the cover reminded me of Heidi Cullinan’s college series, which I loved.  I’d say if you liked that one you’ll like this one, and vice versa, though Cullinan’s series has a bit lighter feel to it.

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Fever Pitch by Heidi Cullinan

20625174
Grade: A
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, NA, m/m
Series: Love Lessons #2
Published: 9/30/14
Reviewed by Anne
297 ebook pages

Aaron isn’t really excited about starting college, in fact, he’s having a hard time even picking a college to go to.  He is excited about living on his own, though.  He won’t be under his father’s thumb any more, and there might even be room for him to come out.  Giles is excited to start college.  High school was hell for him, and he’s hoping college won’t have any of the bullying and cliques that left him feeling like he was the bottom of the barrel.  A chance encounter at a party neither one of them wants to be at leaves Aaron with a new sexual experience and a college t choice made.  Unfortunately the same encounter leaves Giles feeling rejected again.  So, when they get to college, where both are involved in the music program, Giles is not as happy to see Aaron as Aaron was hoping he would be.

I felt like this was a story written just for me.  One part Glee, one part Pitch Perfect, and one part Heidi Cullinan goodness was a perfect mix.  Heck, it even had a huge musical closing act!

Surprisingly, I felt like the romance, though it was good, wasn’t the strongest point of this story.  The real strength of the story was the coming of age that Aaron and Giles went through.  Some of that involved them being together, but a lot of it happened more in parallel, separate from their relationship.  It’s full of good messages, but they’re not shoved down your throat.  There’s acapella, unrequited love, just the right amount of angst, and some incredible parents.  I loved every single word of it!

The only thing I could even begin to complain about is how much Walter and Kelly (from the first book in the series) appeared in this one.  But, really, I can’t complain, because Walter and Kelly were awesome!  They also have an integral part in the story, they weren’t just reappearing for the good feels of it.

I highly recommend this book!  It’s going on my Best of 2014, and it’s in my top 5 right now!  I did read Love Lessons, the first book in this series, before reading this one.  I think you’d appreciate a couple of the secondary characters more if you read in order, but I also think you’d be fine if you read this one as a stand alone.  It’s a great read!

More Than Anything by T.T. Kove

22692567

Grade: A
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, m/m
Series: More Than Anything #1
Published: 9/24/14
Reviewed by Anne
238 pages

Jorgen sees a young man outside his home who looks a little off. When Jorgen approaches him, the young man falls to the sidewalk in a seizure.  Jorgen takes the sleeping man into his house after the seizure is over and looks after him.  The next morning he learns that the young man, Geir, is just 16, and living alone off an on when his single parent father works at an off shore job.  Though Jorgen is attracted to Geir, he feels it’s inappropriate, both because of Geir’s age and Jorgen’s inability to have a relationship.

After that night, Jorgen and Geir don’t expect to see each other again, but they do.  And this leads to Geir seeking out Jorgen’s friendship.  Geir turns 17, which is the age of consent in Norway, and he and Jorgen (22) start a platonic friendship.  Soon Geir learns he’s not the only one with problems.  Geir has a couple seizures per month, and Jorgen constantly battles anxiety attacks.

This story unfolds so deliciously slowly, I just loved it!  I wanted to have issues that Geir was so young, but I just couldn’t.  He was mature beyond his years, and only looking for a friend.  Jorgen came across as young for his age, and they truly have a long friendship before moving on to more.

Jorgen, who initially didn’t think he would be capable of even a friendship, finds himself wanting to do more and be more than he has been for the last several years.  He understands Geir’s loneliness because he feels it too, and he starts to realize his life is better with friends in it.  He and Geir also have bodies that betray them with seizures and panic attacks.  They have so much in common and you just root for them to get to a place where they can have a relationship!

On top of the wonderfulness that is Jorgen and Geir, the story is set in Norway, which was really interesting.  There were a lot of small differences from American life, but not so many that it was confusing.  I do really want to go to a theater that serves popcorn and bacon chips — that sounds awesome!  Jorgen and Geir also have make some fun friends who liven up the book.

I highly recommend this book!  It was a joy to read and I’ll be looking for more by this author.  I’m putting it on my Best of 2014 list!