4.5 stars for Taking Him On (Checking Him Out #2) by Debbie McGowan @writerdebmcg #MM #family


Title: Taking Him On (Checking Him Out #2)
Author Name & Publisher: Debbie McGowan (Beaten Track)
Publication Date & Length: September 9th, 2015 — 250


It’s almost a year since Noah told Matty they needed to cool it, believing it was the sensible thing to do. After all, they were too intense, and they were both failing uni.

Now, with Matty just weeks away from taking up his place at a prestigious London dance academy, Noah is desperate to make the most of the little time they have left. It’s only a temporary separation, and they are forever. Or so he’d thought.

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It’s not really a secret that I’m a huge fan of Debbie McGowan’s work. I leave every book wishing I had a book club and several weeks to discuss the details. This is no exception.

There’s not a lot of dense plot, nor does it read like a traditional romance. Noah and Matty are an established couple, and the emphasis is on their development as characters and within their relationship. Even though this is part of a series, it can be read pretty well as a stand-alone.

I struggled a lot to like Noah, even though the story is in his (first-person) point of view. He seemed incredibly immature to me, and I kept thinking that if he couldn’t be realistic about the kind of relationship he was in, he probably wasn’t ready for it–and certainly not as a “forever love” thing. He kept talking about having “real” sex with Matty (and referring to everything else as “fooling around”). Plus, he wasn’t really able to let Matty lean on him in a grown-up, mature way because Matty’s issues were too intense for him to deal with. It was incredibly frustrating.

That said, I felt like Noah experienced a lot of growth. His unlikeablility was not a deterrent from enjoying the story–instead, it made me even more invested. I wanted to see if he developed into a healthier version of himself, and I wasn’t disappointed. By the end of the book, I felt like he’d changed for the better, and I really liked the way the whole thing wrapped up.

If you like a book to be heavy on character development with less emphasis on action or romance, this is a good choice.



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Author, publisher, social scientist. My academic specialism is gender and sexual politics and identity, so you can expect this to crop up now and then in my writing too! Not in an “in your face” kind of way – subtlety wins hearts and minds.

I live in Lancashire, UK, with family and rescued dogs. It’s green and pleasant, and we get long, long, lovely perfumed days in late spring / early summer. My favourite place in the world is Watergate Bay, Cornwall, but I haven’t travelled much. The most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced is the call to prayer at 11 p.m. on a terrace in Istanbul. Goosebumps+ and I’m an atheist!

I write character-based/driven fiction – mostly general/contemporary, some (M/M & F/M) romance and a bit of sci-fi fantasy (light). Basically, I write about life. I’ve written a few stand alone novels and short stories, but my main work is the Hiding Behind The Couch series, which these days I’m referring to as a literary soap opera. Each novel/novella concludes, but there are always a few loose ends to be picked up and threaded on to the next instalment. There are longer threads and shorter threads.


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