Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Can friends turned occasional lovers move beyond past mistakes and wrong assumptions to build something that can last?
Quiet bookworm Shane has a big secret—one he’s kept for fifteen years. AFL superstar Ambrose Jakoby grew up next door to Shane. They were close friends, and Shane supported Ambrose through school.
One night, everything changed.
Before Ambrose left Perth as a scared eighteen-year-old to head to Melbourne and take up his new footy career, Ambrose and Shane slept together.
For the next nine years, they continued a secret friends-with-benefits situation whenever Ambrose was in town. Shane never knew exactly where he stood or how to define Ambrose’s sexuality—and Ambrose didn’t know either. Then last Christmas, everything changed again, and a disagreement strained their friendship. Shane vowed to get over his unrequited love.
But Ambrose is back, recovering from an injury and hoping to make amends. He claims he’s ready for a real relationship. But Shane has to decide whether Ambrose means it and whether his Hufflepuff soul can take the chance.
Knowing Me, Knowing You by Renae Kaye is another enjoyable, sweet romance in her Loving You series. This series, built around a group of friends and couples has had its share of unusual pairings. For some it’s been in exploration of each man’s sexuality, a finding of their identity, an acceptance and self knowledge before they can acknowledge their love for the man that’s their HEA and full time partner in life.
And that has come with some controversy over labels and descriptions.
Thankfully, we seem to have vanquished the “gay for you” trope, at least from most books I’ve read lately for some realistic and honest look at sexuality. Kaye does so here with Ambrose and demisexuality. The fact that he just couldn’t understand his own lack of sexual drive in general as a youth or that it was only oriented towards one or a couple of people seems realistic. There was no one he could speak to, no one to as questions to. The talks he later had, years later, with Shane felt believable and sort of sad, while being ground in a factual reality.
That Shane didn’t understand more of the LGBTQIA spectrum? Maybe not so much. I would have expected more knowledge and understanding from him, less density. That was my frustration as a reader. Shane is surrounded by friends who have gone through a myriad of experiences, he regularly does to Pride Parades. Isn’t he picking up the literature and education as well?
Of course, all of this is mixed in with years of boyhood friendship, kisses and hookups, then miscommunication or no communication, and just dealing with years apart. All done through Renae Kaye’s layered well rounded characters going through believable situations in life. Ambrose is hurt in what might be a career ending injury, and wants to reconnect with Shane. Shane’s needs to see if he is ready to examine their relationship and his life in general. It’s all messy, painful, loving, and real.
And yes, maybe it sometimes even needs to come with some labels if that’s what someone needs. Or doesn’t. Feeling pressured into sex feels pretty believable and understandable these days no matter the gender. So I get that element too. I think most readers will. That it has taken Ambrose all this time to start to figure out why he feels the way he does is no mystery. Some people take much longer. That rings true as well.
I loved bringing the search for Ambrose’s family into this. Such a heartwarming part of this story. I just loved that.
Without heading into spoiler territory, I do feel some ambivalence about that ending. Kaye keeps it real there too. It’s the only way it can happen without a epilogue years into the future. I’m hoping that we keep having a peek at this couple into the next stories and updates as to what their current status is. Maybe even a new story down the line. That would be wonderful.
Cover Artist: Maria Fannin. Love that cover. Light hearted, bright and happy. It draws the reader to it. Love it.
Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 255 pages
Expected publication: October 30th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language English
Series Loving You