Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Rory Graeble is a returning college sophomore and a new man. Or at least he’s trying to be a new man. Outed last year when a gay bashing turned the campus upside down, the former “Lawrence” Graeble, a geeky introverted guy who sucked men off in the steam tunnels off-campus, is now out-and-proud Rory, the sole leader of the Queer Alliance. Showing up early for orientation with other student leaders, Rory meets Danny Smits at a party, and the two literally make sparks fly together.
Contrary to his past introverted behavior, Rory decides to pursue Danny, who is the leader of the Young Entrepreneurs on campus. A skater, Danny and his group have designed a new board and are trying to find funding to move their ideas into reality. In the meantime, Rory’s RA, Barry, is becoming a close friend and is pursuing a relationship with Rory’s BFF, Stacie. Getting the support of his friends while he pursues Danny, who is sometimes like quicksilver, is important to Rory. But catching Danny, and defining their relationship is very difficult, and when he finds out why, Rory allows self-doubt to cloud the picture.
Danny suffers from a <spoiler> that has led to some very destructive behaviors in the past, including drug addiction and a criminal record. When the bank turns down the loan application to get the skateboard business up and running, he nosedives into a deep depression, knowing the cause is his criminal record. Rory has seen this disorder up close in a family member in the past, so he decides to find out more about it before he makes any commitment to his volatile lover. Will he go or stay? Will Danny’s moods even allow him to recognize his own feelings toward Rory? And what about Danny’s friends, his crew as he calls them; will they allow him enough slack to decide for himself about Rory? After all, they’ve been his rock and been his only stabilizing influence in the past. Will they now allow that role to be held by Rory?
There’s so much to this story that it’s difficult to sift through all the facts, emotions, and drama. There’s also a subplot surrounding Barry and Stacie, and there are references to the past gay bashing on campus and to the characters involved. I suspect these were featured in previous stories by this author and it was difficult to get them all straight, so this story should be labeled as part of a series. It can still be read as a standalone, but readers like me may be confused and long to have that backstory filled. I liked the basic premise of this story, however it felt too long. And there was a lot of sex, very rough sex, bordering on abusive sex. By the latter part of the book, I glossed over the sex scenes to get back to the rest of the action.
The disorder wasn’t revealed until later in the book, and it was treated with so much gravity that if I happened to suffer from it, I would have definitely tipped into depression. I don’t mean to make light of it, not at all. It’s just that it was treated like something insurmountable and fatal, and yet I’ve known many people with the disorder who have stabilized with treatment. But in this book it felt quite hopeless.
One other thing, perhaps minor, perhaps not—there was a concurrent romance between Barry and Stacie that I felt that would have been okay as a quick mention, but quite a bit of time was spent on it and I didn’t particularly care for what happened or the time spent on them in the story.
Overall, the storyline felt very dark and depressing. I honestly don’t recommend it if you are looking for a sweet young adult romance, but if you like hurt-comfort stories and don’t mind some dark angst mixed in, you might want to consider this one.
Cover Art by Kris Norris fits the story quite well as it features a headshot of a young man with a skateboarder jumping in the background.
Sales Links: Torquere Press | ARe | Amazon
Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published June 8th 2016 by Torquere Press LLC
SeriesCollege Rose Romance