A MelanieM Review: Always Forward! Never Straight by Charley Descoteaux (revised 1/10)

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Baxter Bryan is the nerdy half of BaxCo, a start-up in Portland’s Silicon Forest creating cutting-edge high-tech toys. He’s also a hermit. When BaxCo sponsors the Portland Rock and Roll Half Marathon, Bryan decides to break out of his comfort zone and do more than listen to the music with a beer in hand. The race has barely started when he bumps into a fit, handsome man, causing sparks to fly. But the long hours needed to make BaxCo a success aren’t the only reason Bryan spends most of his time alone in his apartment.

Cay Nissen runs every day to stay in shape. He would love to run away from his job in a Silicon Forest cube farm, but keeps returning to support his teenaged daughter. His true love is music. Cay writes songs for the band he helped form in high school but doesn’t see any way to turn music into a career. The half marathon seemed like a decent way to pass a Saturday, make his boss happy, and catch a performance of his old band all at the same time. When he meets a man who sparks his interest, the safety of his cubicle isn’t the only part of his life that’s in jeopardy of changing.

I’m going to do something I don’t remember doing before and that’s revising a review.  In this case downward.  Whem originally wrote this review, I knew there were things that were bothering me about this story. I thought I has mentioned them, sort of and pushed this story away.  But the funny thing is this book and its red flags kept bothering me.  They popped up at night, during the day to the point I even discussed the elements with another reviewer to see if I was making too much of what this story included so nonchalantly.  The consensus was no, I wasn’t.

So back to this review I went and out came the revisions and comments that should have been there to begin with.

One of the things that bothered me?  The body issues here.  Cay was originally overweight.  How much overweight, it’s never said.Now Cay runs, not out of any enjoyment, but as a means to keep in shape.  His ex wife is there to make sure he doesn’t “backslide”.  That includes making her disapproval known that he’s dating Bryan who is slightly pudgy and who would rather watch the race with a glass of wine than run it.  Cay’s reaction to that disapproval?  Reassuring her that Baxter must be ok because he was at least running in the marathon.  So please don’t be nasty ok?  Wow.  So many wrong things there, so many red flags.

In my original review, I skirted the issue of domestic violence, a central issue here with the character of Baxter/Bryan.  It was plain from all the cues from Baxter’s body language that he had been beaten in the past. And indeed it comes out that it’s the reason he’s been hiding in his home for so many years. A long term abusive relationship that left him deeply depressed and unable to function until his cousin “saved” him. Another problem I had.  No mention of therapy,  Or the police?  Just the cousin intervention.  As he stayed in his home for years that was not the correct approach. Is that brought up? Apparently not.

There is also serious flaws within this relationship or within the characters as constructed.  Each reader will have to be the judge.  Cay either does a completely weird turn about in behavior in one horrifying scene with Bryan or their relationship is on shaky, twisted ground from the start.   And spoilers….after intentionally physically threatening a man who has been so physically abused to the point he wants to die (and one you say you love), that same guy then runs back to you, apologizes, buys farm you can all live in together? You say yes no problem. Hell no.

Flag, flag, flag, flag!  Doesn’t matter that you’re sad and say you’re sorry too.  What’s wrong with this picture?  Everything!!!!!\

What was I thinking with my earlier review?  Honestly I don’t know.  That story started off fine and then took a turn downward.  And it’s been bothering me ever since.

So here it is.  The revised review.  I guess I’m not recommending this story.

Cover Artist: Rainbow Danger Designs.  Eye catching and the hard torso does play to a certain part of the story. However, it could also be any other story as well. 

Sales Links:  Amazon Universal Link:  mybook.to/AlwaysForward

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 84 pages
Published January 1st 2019 by CeeTwo Publications
Original Title Always Forward! Never Straight
ASIN B07L6P9NTV
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Always Forward, Never Straight by Charley Descoteaux

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Baxter Bryan, who goes by the name of Bryan in this story, is a nerd who created a drone butler named Alfred to get his new company started.  As part of their marketing strategy, BaxCo is sponsoring the Rock and Roll half marathon in the Portland area and the over forty, out of shape tech guru has trained so he can participate.  Embarrassed about his age and body shape, and a poster child for low self-esteem, he has to think twice when a cute older guy flirts with him and then runs with him for the completion of the race.

The other man is Cay Nissen, former band member of Always Forward, Never Straight, father of a precocious teen named Mac, bisexual, also in his forties, and strikingly taken with Bryan.  The first part of the story moved along really well.  Everything was set up nicely for this romance between older guys, something I love.  Neither man shared their place of employment with the other, and though they talked about most things, work wasn’t one. Cay was embarrassed by his customer service job, and Bryan didn’t want to sound like he was bragging about being a CEO.  And though they dated quite a few times, they usually ended up at Cay’s place because Bryan had a history of abuse with his ex and, before pushing himself to participate in the race, had spent years isolated and often simply staying in his apartment.

So what could happen to cause these two distress? <spoiler>Why their jobs, of course. And here’s where the story took a nosedive for me. Cay’s boss finds out who he’s seeing and fires him. Why? Well his company is Bryan’s competitor. But, not only does he fire him, he accuses him of what amounts to corporate espionage. Now, the author has already established that the guy does customer service in a cube farm and never completed high school. But instead of realizing how bogus the accusation is and acknowledging it, he goes to Bryan’s home and rants at him about his job, and how could he have used Cay to get information, etc. etc. etc. Really?  This was so against the personality the author had built for Cay, I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t read it myself. He was deliberately cruel to Bryan, even knowing Bryan’s fear of being bullied and physically hurt, and he totally ignored the fact that he knows nothing about the tech other than how to sell it, whereas Bryan uses his knowledge and abilities to create the drones.  And this went on for a while. 

And then Bryan decides to fight for his man because he loves him. And after Cay calmed down he realized he loves Bryan too. Really?  So this was me through the whole second half: Really?  WTF? Love? Ugh. No. </spoiler> Too bad because they seemed to be going somewhere and the initial setup was sweet. 

I also need to note that there were several awkward scenes including one in which Cay held back on offering a kiss to his ex wife because he’d just given a blow job to Bryan and another in which Bryan, a blow job, thinks back about how he never showered the day before. What was the point to these two gross statements?  They totally removed any residual enjoyment of the story and dropped my rating lower.

Cover Artist: Rainbow Danger Designs. 

Sales Links:  Amazon Universal Link:  mybook.to/AlwaysForward

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 84 pages
Published January 1st 2019 by CeeTwo Publications
Original Title Always Forward! Never Straight
ASIN B07L6P9NTV
Edition Language English

Love Contemporary Romance? Check out Always Forward! Never Straight by Charley Descoteaux (exclusive excerpt and giveaway)

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Always Forward! Never Straight

by

Publisher: CeeTwo Publications

Release Date: January 1, 2019

Cover Artist: Rainbow Danger Designs

 

Blurb:

Love isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.

 

Baxter Bryan is the nerdy half of BaxCo, a start-up in Portland’s Silicon Forest creating cutting-edge high-tech toys. He’s also a hermit. When BaxCo sponsors the Portland Rock and Roll Half Marathon, Bryan decides to break out of his comfort zone and do more than listen to the music with a beer in hand. The race has barely started when he bumps into a fit, handsome man, causing sparks to fly. But the long hours needed to make BaxCo a success aren’t the only reason Bryan spends most of his time alone in his apartment.

 

Cay Nissen runs every day to stay in shape. He would love to run away from his job in a Silicon Forest cube farm, but keeps returning to support his teenaged daughter. His true love is music. Cay writes songs for the band he helped form in high school but doesn’t see any way to turn music into a career. The half marathon seemed like a decent way to pass a Saturday, make his boss happy, and catch a performance of his old band all at the same time. When he meets a man who sparks his interest, the safety of his cubicle isn’t the only part of his life that’s in jeopardy of changing.

Pages:  86

Exclusive Excerpt:

The final stage held a jazz combo playing something smooth, but not too smooth, and we veered toward it as though it had been scripted. Or maybe agreed upon, but I wasn’t in any condition to speak. I didn’t want to wheeze when Cay didn’t seem to be having any trouble, so I kept my mouth shut.

In front of the stage, a bunch of tables and chairs had been arranged, along with a booth to buy water and fruit. I frowned at the recycling bins there—adorned with the swish, of course—but before we reached them, I had decided if he made any kind of move, it was on. Without much thought, I realized I didn’t care if he had a kink for bearish men or if he wanted to have revenge sex or even if he’d never been with a man before (all things that had been no-brainers in my youth, automatic no-thank-yous)—I’d do anything he let me.

By the way he’d subtly directed our route, I thought it might turn out to be “anything he told me to do” and was surprisingly okay with that, even though vanilla should be my middle name. We stopped and grabbed water, and I almost sighed aloud when I saw the way his shirt clung to his body. Damn, never had a man with a six-pack before.

I reminded myself I might not get this one—probably wouldn’t—and he invited me to sit on a bench with a gesture. Both sitting—close enough to feel the heat coming off him in waves—I noticed he was breathing heavily, and smelled amazing. His large hands worried at the bottle of water between sips. Maybe he’s a little wound up from more than the race too?

Cay leaned his forearms on his thighs and glanced my way before asking, “You like jazz?”

I tore my gaze away from his hands and didn’t let myself linger on his eyes before checking out the band. Safer. “Yeah. I collect vinyl. Jazz records.” Duh, idiot.

“So, a redhead named Bryan. Are you Irish?”

Damn, he has a sexy voice. Even if I am more gray than red now.

“Sort of. I mean, a little. How’d you get a name like Cayman? I mean, it’s unusual.”

“Mom. Dude. Island.” I glanced over, and he had one eyebrow raised.

I got it. I opened my mouth to apologize for prying but instead out came a smartass comment, “Grand Cayman?”

A grin bloomed on his lips, and he turned away and laughed, as though he’d tried to contain it but failed. He sipped his water and then said, in a low rumbling voice meant only for me, “You’ll have to be the judge of that.”

I sprayed a mouthful of water onto the pavement in front of us. A few people moved away and made comments regarding my rudeness, but when I dared a look, Cay was grinning and shaking his head as he patted my back.

 

Buy Always Forward! Never Straight or read free on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon Universal Link:  mybook.to/AlwaysForward

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About the Author:

Charley Descoteaux is the author of the Buchanan House Love Stories. Book One was a USA Today Must-Read Romance.

Charley has always heard voices. She was relieved to learn they were fictional characters, and started writing when they insisted daydreaming just wasn’t good enough. In exchange, they’ve agreed to let her sleep once in a while. Charley has survived earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods, but couldn’t make it through a single day without stories.

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