Rating: 4 stars out of 5
When his friends bet cynical Jerry that he can’t turn sweet Arlo into a player, Jerry might win the bet but lose his heart.
College senior Jerry Helstrom survived a gay childhood in Texas by being fierce and fabulous. At school he’s known as a player and has kept his heart so guarded that he’s forgotten he has one. When his friends bet him he can’t teach inexperienced Arlo Barnes to become a stud like him, Jerry takes on the challenge and quickly finds himself drawn to his enticing trainee.
Arlo kicks butt as a Tae Kwon Do black belt, but his sexual game is lacking. He’s been dumped by his only boyfriend and needs help getting himself out there. Enter Jerry Helstrom, player extraordinaire and happy to provide Arlo with some hands-on coaching. Jerry encourages Arlo to ask for what he wants in sex and in life, something Arlo struggles with. The struggle deepens when Arlo discovers that what he truly wants is the seemingly unattainable Jerry Helstrom.
Jerry can teach Arlo to play the field, but can Arlo teach Jerry to play for keeps?
The Player’s Protégé by CJane Elliott is the second story in the author’s Campus Connections series and another winner in my estimation. I forget how much great characterizations and story plot this author can cram into a novettle but here again in 93 pages Elliot manages it again.
We have several familiar tropes here, a bet, an almost Pygmalion theme of a makeover with Jerry the jaded, rich player (and the one with the bet) tasked with the makeover of the almost innocent, sweet farmboy Arlo (who is unaware of the bet) into a player like himself. Almost every reader who has reads romances knows that it”s almost written in stone that the jaded teacher will fall for the pupil. The fun is seeing how they fall, how the pupil reacts during the teaching sessions and, well, how does the relationship develop and the story end?
The Player’s Protégé works so well because the characters have so many unsuspecting aspects to their personalities. Jerry isn’t just a jaded rich playboy, no, he’s a set and costume designer for a children’s theatre, loves his older sister, and deep parental issues and has the high emotional walls because if it. And Arlo? Another heartwarming surprise with a couple of kinks thrown in. He is such a lovely surprise that I won’t go into him here, just let the reader discover him as Jerry does.
We get to see both young men’s families, for better and worse, so each has a firm foundation to stand on. Also from the beginning of the story, Arlo and Jerry are surrounded by the couple, Will and Eric as well as Tyrone (from the first story,The Kinsey Scale. So you get a feel for the universe the author continues to build with each story and couple as they head past graduation and into their future together and possibly as a group in a theatre.
My only complaint that these are terrific characters and I felt the ending could have been a little longer. I would have been happy fleshing out their resolution and epilogue. However Im sure I will be seeing more of them in Tyrone’s story next. I can’t wait.
Campur Connections is a joy of a series, a heartwarming series of contemporary romances. Pick them all up and enjoy! I recommend them all , including this one.
Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas. I like the cover, more somber than would have predicted but it works.
Kindle Edition, 93 pages
Expected publication: June 7th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language English
SeriesCampus Connections #2