A Caryn Review: Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

What is family?  For the queer community, that has always been a fraught question, because redefining family as something other than shared history and DNA is something that too many of them have been unwillingly (and sometimes tragically) forced to do.  Friends are the family we choose – but letting go of the family of your childhood and choosing a new one is never going to be easy.  And that’s what this book is all about.

Isaac is a gay man who never came out to his family, though he is openly gay otherwise and has a close network of friends.  He knows his parents are homophobic, but hasn’t even told his sister, although she has her suspicions about him.  His parents are annoying, belittling, and exceedingly negative, and his relationship with them is distant and mainly involves showing up at their house for holidays to get another helping of guilt about why he hasn’t settled down to give them grandchildren.  It was mentioned that his childhood wasn’t much better.  He’s fairly close to his sister though, so was surprised when she showed up for Christmas dinner with a multiply pierced, heavily tatted, non-white man who kept hinting about past incarcerations.  He was even more surprised when that man started hitting on him!  After a very uncomfortable dinner, his sister came clean to him, admitted she brought Logan just to piss off their parents, and also told Isaac she assumed he was gay – and would be interested in Logan.  Which he was, once he found out that all the hints about a criminal past were also fabricated.

Over the course of the the following year, Isaac finds that Logan is exactly who he’s been looking for all his life.  Logan feels the same way.  Their main point of contention is that Isaac is not out to his family, and Logan doesn’t want to be a dirty secret.  Keeping Logan secret from his family is also increasingly uncomfortable for Isaac, but the fallout from coming out is more painful than either of them suspected….

The plot was predictable, as outlined in the blurb, so nothing I’ve mentioned above is a spoiler.  I really do like stories like this, but where there isn’t a lot of plot you end up with a lot of filler.  Which can be good, but here it started being a little repetitive.  The sex scenes got boring, which they inevitably do when there are too many.  And if I read one more time about licking the taste of coffee, or dessert, or wine, or other food out of Logan’s mouth to get to the taste of “uniquely him” or whatever, I was going to scream.  Mention it once and it’s a little sexy, but over and over and I start thinking of dental hygiene, which is the opposite of sexy 😦

Cover art by L.C. Chase is really well laid out, with a great looking model that is perfect for Logan.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 248 pages
Published October 1st 2018 by Riptide Publishing (first published September 29th 2018)
Original Title Hard Truths
ISBN139781626498464
Edition Language English

Spotlight Blog Tour and Giveaway for Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall

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Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall

Riptide Publishing
Cover Art: L.C. Chase

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Hello, everybody! I’m Alex Whitehall, and I’m here today touring for my contemporary m/m romance, Hard Truths, which is about Isaac and Logan’s whirlwind romance, as well as coming out and what family means. But it’s not all angst and drama. In fact, I hope you’ll have as much fun watching these guys fool around as I had making them be goofs.

 

About Hard Truths

He can’t have the family he wants, but he may get the love he deserves.

Isaac didn’t expect to find love at his family’s Christmas dinner, but that was before he met his sister’s new fake boyfriend. Tall, muscular, and tattooed, Logan is what Isaac would love in a partner—and also everything his parents would hate in one. Not that they know Isaac’s gay.

That doesn’t stop him from dating Logan—unbeknownst to his parents, and with his sister’s approval after she fake dumps him. The pair dive into a whirlwind romance of motorcycle rides, cheesy puns, and hot sex. They meet each other’s friends and fill their time with happiness and laughter. It’s all perfect.

Until Isaac suggests they move in together, and Logan asks Isaac to come out to his parents. Isaac wants to, but he’s scared; he doesn’t want to lose his family. Unfortunately, he can’t see that his real family has been right beside him all along.

Available from Riptide Publishing.

 

About Alex Whitehall

If there are two types of people in the world, Alex Whitehall probably isn’t one of them, despite being a person. Their favorite pastimes include reading, horseback riding, sleeping, watching geek-tastic television, knitting, eating, and running. And wasting time on the internet. And spending glorious evenings laughing with friends.

While Alex prefers sleeping over doing anything else (except maybe eating), sometimes they emerge from the cave to be social and to hunt for food at the local market. They can be found blogging, reading, and tending after their aloe plants.

Connect with Alex:

Giveaway

Commenting below will give you a chance to win this mug:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/573454042/oh-for-fox-sake-coffee-mug-custom-fox

This mug appears in Hard Truths as one of the first presents that Isaac buys Logan. It’s similar to a mug I have myself (that my friend bought me and that might have inspired the gift)! The order will be shipped directly from the buyer, so you have to be willing to share your physical address with the buyer and myself. You can choose either size and any of the fox images.

Due to prohibitive shipping costs, this prize is only open to within the US. For international readers, indicate as such and you’ll have a chance to win a digital copy of your choice from my backlist.

Contest closes October 6. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave a means of contact!

 

A Lucy Review: Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Isaac really drew the short straw in the family lottery.  He has a wonderful sister, Sue, and bigoted, selfish and homophobic parents.  They constantly barrage Isaac and Sue with demands to get a partner, marry and produce grandchildren.  Since they don’t appreciate or really seem to love their own children, the odds of them being any better with grandchildren is low. Isaac always tries to see the best of them.  “They lived in a closed-off little world, but they weren’t bad people.  Or rather, I liked to think they weren’t.”  Isaac is very firmly in the closet with his parents, not wanting to lose  his family. Luckily Isaac has an amazing group of friends who support and love him.

To combat this parental nightmare one Christmas, Sue brings a fake boyfriend, Logan.  Logan is tattooed, pierced and definitely puts on a bad-boy wastrel attitude.  Of course, Isaac is seriously attracted but doesn’t realize the boyfriend is fake.  So when Logan hits on him in the hallway, he is aroused and appalled.  Being a good brother, he hides in the bathroom to text Sue a warning, which Sue pushes off.  In a phone call, Sue tells Isaac about the fake, and gives her go-ahead for Issac to date Logan.  Since Isaac didn’t realize Sue even knew he was gay, he is shocked.  “So, Isaac, I love you and it doesn’t matter if you’re gay.  If you are, I want you to know that I’m a safe space.”  Sue is a great sister.

So Isaac does call Logan and off on a date they go.  Isaac is less the buttoned down prep he presents for his parents and more his hoodie and jeans wearing, tattooed and pierced real self.  Logan is also his real self, a graphic designer who owns his own company.  Since Logan was at Christmas he knows Isaac isn’t out and asks, “So no plans to tell them?”  Isaac replies that he won’t tell them until there is a significant other important enough to come out for.

As Logan and Isaac begin dating, they get to know each other, they take things pretty slow and talk.  I liked that about them.  Isaac meets Logan’s chosen family of friends (and this concept is a big one through the story).  Isaac doesn’t warm up to Logan’s friends, he always feels like an outsider and as if they don’t like him.  He takes this as proof that friends aren’t your family, because they could leave at any time.  He believes you only get one shot at family, even if they are horrible, and they are connected to you in a way no one else can be, “They’ve been with you from the beginning, for better or worse.”  Get a clue, Isaac!  When his amazing friends try to remind him they love him and they are his family, he upsets them.  “You have us.” “Yeah, but you’re not family.”  He hurts his friends so much with that, and he continues to do so, not understanding their point at all.  He won’t even accept the term “chosen family”, instead repeatedly saying they are friends.  “I wanted my family, blemishes and all.”  I wanted to smack him for being so obtuse.  I couldn’t for the life of me understand his view on this.  It irked me because the things he was throwing out there weren’t true even for him.  “Family wouldn’t break apart over something as small as this.  Because family loves you no matter what, because you’re bound by blood.”  Except that wasn’t true.  “Well, no matter what, unless you’re gay and your parents are homophobes.”

Logan really is patient with Isaac but he also knows his own self worth.  He is badly hurt when Isaac repeatedly won’t even mention Logan to his parents, pretending he is seeing no one and going to see them alone.  When Isaac suggests they move in together, Logan is so happy.  Except Isaac still doesn’t want to tell his parents.  So Logan would be the “roommate” or the “good friend”, or some other lie to explain away why they were living together.  But it’s been six months.  What happened to ‘I’ll tell them when it’s serious’?”  I couldn’t blame him for thinking Isaac wasn’t as invested as he was. Even Isaac knows.  “It’s not like that.”  But it was like that.  Exactly like that.”  And yet he still puts his nasty parents ahead of the man he claims to love, as well as his friends.

His parents, particularly his father, are so loathsome.  Racist, bigots, homophobes all, but also just rude and nasty.  I hated them even more knowing that way too many real life parents are just like this.  Made me angry and so sad.  Isaac has a lot of growing to do and I didn’t understand his willingness to put up with everything they spewed at him but I also could see the steps he was slowly trying to take.  And there is a point where he and Logan are fighting, and it is Logan who uses the, “Isaac, it’s not like that”, and this time I could see Isaac’s point.  He is made to feel he over-reacted but I could see how it would hurt.

I liked this story even as Isaac made me want to scream at times.  There are solid positive secondary characters in Sue and Isaac’s friends, Jackson, Emmett, Roe, Jenna, Marc and Laura.  I’d love to say Isaac’s parents were over the top but unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, there are too many families that are just like this.  I would love to know what happens to Logan and Isaac in in the future and I was so happy when Isaac finally, finally got the true meaning of family. 

Cover Art: L.C. Chase.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 248 pages
Expected publication: October 1st 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleHard Truths
ISBN139781626498464
Edition LanguageEnglish