Rating: 4 stars
Vincent Wade is more than tired these days. He is absolutely exhausted. Between his college classes (Vince plans on solving world hunger) and working full time at Ace Graphics to pay his rent, he barely has time to eat and sleep. So when a jock comes barging in at the end of an extra shift at the store and demands that he drop everything and run a guy’s poster project now and for free no less? Well, it was lucky for the football player that all Vince did was throw the thumb drive into the nearest trash can. Again and again, the staff and Vince tell the jocks, now two, that the machines were already running, the store was closing, and if they wanted their project done, they had to go elsewhere, which they finally did but not without a veiled threat or two.
But some people just end up pushing into your life and who does Vince see on his way home from work but the two jocks in another Ace Graphics store trying to get their project printed. The store manager sees Vince and pulls him into the store to fix the printing machine so their project can be run. That’s when Vincent realizes that one of the two football players is none other than Carson Cress, the college’s superstar quarterback who is all but guaranteed to go pro at the end of the school year. Carson Cress is gorgeous, and all but worshiped by everyone on campus. Everyone but Vincent that is.
Vincent is small, gay and a bit of a loner so why is Carson Cress pursuing him? Vince can’t wrap his mind around the fact that the biggest man on campus seems to want him, bio nerd that he is. Especially when Vince thought along with everyone else on campus that Carson Cress was straight. Then one night turns into a date and Carson makes it plain he wants a relationship with Vince but he can’t be out. What is Vince to do when the man of his dreams comes with secrets and different goals in life?
In Vincent Wade Mary Calmes has once again given her readers a character to love and cheer for. Vincent Wade has overcome many obstacles in his young life. Small in stature and pretty features made him an easy target in a high school that let bullies have their way. When Vincent came out in school, his mother and ultra conservative step father threw him out of the house. Only his best friend’s parents kept him from being homeless. Vincent is uber smart, sarcastic and a little bit edgy. I just loved him. Mary Calmes has paired him up with a god of the football field in the form of Carson Cress, Emerson’s golden boy. On the surface, Carson Cress is that superficial jockstar we have seen time and again. But Mary Calmes gives Carson hidden depths and problems not readily apparent. It’s not just the university that has high expectation but his family as well. His father expects his son to turn pro and lives out his own football dreams through his son’s talents. No one has ever asked Carson what he would like to do with his life and he has gone along with his family’s expectations without an argument. If Carson Cress is the steamroller of the title, Vincent Wade is no pushover to my utter delight. His hormones may be saying “go” but Vince still manages to listen to his brain before committing to a relationship with someone who is closeted and will remain there to play in the NFL.
There are plenty of other characters to dwell on and revel in. Matt Cooksey, Vincent’s best friend and his family are at the top. Matt is so adorable that you forgive him just as Vincent does when Matt comes strolling back after a year’s absence to the apartment that should have been his and Vincent’s all along. And honestly? There is this friend of Vince’s, Kurt Butler. Every year Vince spends hours cooking for Kurt’s birthday party and Kurt has been his friend since their first semester at college. I don’t know what it is about Kurt but he really intrigued me and Mary Calmes has him looking at Vince in that “bend you over the counter” sort of way. Sooooo by the end of the book, I am thinking I would rather see Vince end up with Kurt than with the golden boy. I know, I know, sacrilege right? But that’s what happens with you populate your stories with people who make you sit up and take notice, even if they aren’t the main characters.
There is some angst and a traumatic event to get through. It is, after all, a Mary Calmes story. But that ending, well like I said. Vince seems so anchored in Lubbock with his job, and wonderful friends (Kurt, Kurt, Kurt) and degrees to finish that I found it a little difficult to get behind the ending. That is my quibble with this story, Vincent is just too darn stubborn and interesting for his own good. He is also as complicated as a Rubik’s Cube and deserves someone of that same intensity. And Carson for all his gorgeousness and nice personality seems like someone more to be steamrolled by Vince than the other way around.
So here I sit wondering how Mary Calmes feels about bribes. I could see a sequel to this, really I could. One where Kurt makes a reappearance. Do you think she would go for that? If you see her, just put a whisper in her ear. I will thank you for it, yes I will. In the meantime, pick up this book and make Vince Wade’s acquaintance. I just love that boy and you will too.