Title: Hard Candy (Bend or Break #7)
Author Name & Publisher: Amy Jo Cousins (Samhain Publishing)
Publication Date & Length: March 22, 2016 — 133 pages
How to get over someone? Get under someone else—as soon as possible.
Vincent Lim always assumed his best friend (and occasional hookup) Austin would be waiting for him—that eventually they’d end up together. But now that Austin’s in love with another man, Vinnie is at a loss.
After the world’s most awkward one-night stand with a dance major, Vinnie knows the drill. Minimize the embarrassment by pretending they’ve never met. Yet Bryan’s vibrant spirit and calm center lure Vinnie like a shelter from an emotional storm.
But Vinnie’s thrown off his game by the rest of Bryan’s total package. Vinnie’s a rowing jock with a single-minded focus on living up to his parents’ academic and social expectations. Bryan might as well be outfitted with glittery butterfly wings—with plenty of pride to match. Vinnie’s haphazard attention to a lover won’t cut it this time.
Physically, they can match each other stroke for booty pop. But for the lovers to meet on common ground, they’ll have to find a way to get moving in the same direction.
Warning: Contains one uptight rower, a dancer who can rock a skirt like nobody’s business, yoga lessons, and the benefits of being very bendy.
I really enjoyed this story. There is more maturity and depth to this story than I expected from a college romance. Brian’s flamboyant confidence is a perfect matched for the buttoned-up, waspy Vincent and I loved watching the slightly unconventional relationship between the two young men build through the story.
I haven’t read the rest of the series, and this worked well as a stand-alone for me. While the story exists amidst all the college cliches – jocks, bullies and frat parties rub against the more unique, vulnerable students – the two central characters emerge as unique, well-crafted and immensely likeable young men.
I really enjoy the way more and more authors are putting aside traditional alpha male leading men and writing characters with more complex gender and sexual identities. Brian is a perfect example – an outwardly confident, flamboyant crossdresser, the author slowly makes readers fall in love with the much more complicated man beneath the hotpants. Vincent is the opposite. Burdened by family responsibilities, he does everything possible to meet parental and social expectations until Brian challenges his beliefs and practises.
I was expecting an easy, sexy new-adult romp, but while this is definitely sexy, it is much more sophisticated than I expected from a college m/m story.
Amy Jo Cousins lives in Chicago, where she writes contemporary romance, tweets more than she ought, and sometimes runs way too far. She loves her boy and the Cubs, who taught her that being awesome doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with winning.