Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Rating: 3 stars
Type: Novel in a Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Matt Lancaster is the star quarterback at Bodine College, a small Southern Division II school with an ultra-conservative Dean of Athletics. Matt is also very much in the closet, and he thinks he’s kept his secret well hidden. Until his best friends take him to a happy endings massage parlor and request a male masseuse for him.
Review: Matt Lancaster has liked Trevor Kim since he was a freshman at Bodine college. Unfortunately, Matt is deeply closeted. It has left him lonely. Matt’s friends know Matt isn’t happy, but they sort of go over the line when they arrange to pay for a “massage.” Eventually, Matt goes back for a massage then not long after he finds himself dating Trevor. Things are not exactly easy. Being the star quarterback in a small school in Alabama isn’t the safest place for a gay man. On top of that, Matt’s father is homophobic, abusive, and an alcoholic who will forbid Matt from seeing his sisters. Matt and Trevor have a lot of challenges to negotiate before they find their way to an HEA.
Tropes and clichés are both defined as recurring literary themes, but tropes are fun to read while clichés make me groan and roll my eyes. It’s all about connotation. Here we have Evangelical Christians and ethnic minority parents as the bad guys. I can’t help but feel I’ve read this book. I want to make it very clear I believe the things shown in this book are still very true for a great many people. So I do have some reluctance when I complain about these subjects showing up again, but I’ve read this book before. I also think I’ve read better versions of this book.
I am a middle-aged, white, cis, het woman. I cannot comment on whether or not Trevor Kim was a well written Korean American character. I can say Trevor did not at all feel foreign to me. That’s not to say I expected descriptions of galbi on every other page, but I do think it’s realistic to expect a character from a foreign culture to occasionally be foreign. The instances where the reader is reminded of Trevor’s ethnicity are all describing his beauty.
Matt had a more complicated family than Trevor. Matt’s dad is an alcoholic and a con man. Trevor’s parents found out he was gay and the whole family shunned him. Not that Matt’s dad was overly nuanced. He didn’t exactly have any positive qualities. Matt’s uncle was the most complex character. The lack of complexity in Matt and Trevor’s families is mostly likely the reason I feel I’ve read better examples of these tropes.
I’ve spent a whole bunch of words complaining and now I’d like to finish by saying even though I was disappointed in the overall story, I enjoyed reading this book. I read it in mostly one sitting. It’s not exactly a short book, I really was sitting there for a long time reading. Matt and Trevor are a charming couple. I just needed more than evil Christians, an alcoholic con man, and reactionary immigrant parents. It’s the little things that would have made these still germane themes feel like engaging tropes instead of boring clichés.