Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: October 10, 2012
Received From: Review copy from the author
Ashley Byrne only wants one thing in life: to finish his tattoo apprenticeship and fulfill his dream of owning his own shop. In the meantime, he spends his nights partying, flirting, and having sex. After all, what else is there for him to worry about? Aside from his hair and his clothes, not much. He’s hot, and rest assured no one knows it better than him. He’s also used to getting what he wants—until he meets Felipe Navarro.
Fee Navarro has everything he needs: a great IT job, a nice apartment, and all the high-tech toys his geeky heart could ever want. He doesn’t do casual, and he knows guys like Ash are nothing but. Ash may burn hot for Fee, but Fee isn’t willing to take a chance on a vain, little party boy with too many tats and an oversized ego. He wants someone to share his life with, and he won’t settle for anything less. Too bad Ash has never been the type to give up easily. He has a plan, and he’s not stopping until he proves he’s more than just a pretty face—he’s someone worthy of winning Fee’s heart.
TROPES: slow burn, popular kid + nerd, friends to lovers
TAGS: adult, contemporary, romance, queer romance, queer characters, queer author, interracial romance, interracial couple, Mexican character, Latinx character, POC character, Latinx author, POC author, tattoo artist
WARNINGS: ableism, homomisia, homomisic family, abuse, stalking
I received a copy of this book from one of the authors when they posted on Twitter offering to send them out in exchange for honest reviews, and I was super excited to read it because I love Piper Vaughn as a person and as an author.
Overall, the book was super cute! I loved seeing both Ash and Fee making an effort to find out about the other’s interests, and finding aspects that they didn’t know they’d be into, as well as finding some common ground that they didn’t imagine could exist since they belonged to such different social groups. Plus, the two of them were just super adorable together. I loved the slow burn aspect of the story because it worked so well for them–they were able to actually get to know each other and shake off their preconceptions before they fell into bed with each other, which was necessary considering Fee’s hesitations regarding Ash’s reputation. I loved that they actually dated and had fun together.
I also loved the different friend and family groups and liked seeing the characters interact with them. Also, it was so great to see the Latinx character be the geeky one!!!
There were, however, a few things I didn’t love.
While it was kind of fun to watch Ash struggle to put effort into chasing Fee when it’s all come so easy for him before, the situation did end up giving off stalker vibes. It’s mentioned a couple of times, both in the internal narration and one of Ash’s friends pointing it out, but it’s never really fully addressed. And then it continues to happen for a bit longer after these moments without any further comment on how the behavior is inappropriate.
Also, while I wish it hadn’t had to happen at all, I wish the incident with Fee’s family in the last 10-15% of the novel had come earlier instead of so near the end. Placed there, it just seemed like it was there to act as conflict to create a Big Misunderstanding between Ash and Fee, instead of showing that not all families (and cultures) are entirely accepting of queerness. It also felt rather abrupt and didn’t really fit in with the novel as a whole because there’s next to no mention of Fee’s family within the text. There’s one scene at his birthday party where Ash meets Fee’s mother, who makes vague comments about a man “coming around,” who you assume is Fee’s father, and then there’s one brief conversation about what their parents expected them to do with their lives, which comes fairly early in the novel. After that, there’s just…nothing, aside from brief mentions of a tattoo for Fee that’s dedicated to his mother. So if this had happened earlier in the story, I still wouldn’t have enjoyed the scene, but it would’ve potentially fit better and seemed less like using queer pain to cause drama. I would’ve much rather the Big Misunderstanding have something to do with Donovan, which is honestly where I was expecting it to go, considering the majority of the drama within the novel revolved around him chasing after Fee.
Finally, I would’ve liked to get Fee’s POV, if only because I think he’s the character I would’ve connected with best.
Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, sci-fi, she loves them all (and has an over-two-thousand-book library to prove it!). She’s an avid tea drinker, a hockey fanatic, a vintage typewriter collector, and loves to travel so much she has “wanderlust” tattooed on her ankle and dozens of countries on her bucket list. Recently, she discovered the world of nail art and realized she’s pretty handy with a paintbrush—as long as it’s a miniature one.
As a bisexual and Latinx person, Piper takes great pride in her heritage. She grew up in an ethnically diverse neighborhood and strives to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. She currently resides in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband, son, and a cat that has Piper wrapped around her little paw. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life … even if it’s only in a book.
Xara X. Xanakas decided years ago to embrace her weirdness. A friend first described her that way to the man who’s been her husband for over twenty years. That formula fits her, and she figures if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Being Texan, her crush on cowboys comes natural, but the techie in her loves to show nerds a good time. She relishes all things different, and brings saucy style to her writing. Whether wrangling a wayward ranch hand or adding another critter to her were-menagerie, Xara strives to make the outlandish appealing. She’ll make you quirk a brow and snort with laughter, and that’s all right by her. Xara believes that unique is best and happily ever after is the icing on the cookies.
She writes M/M Romances. You can probably tell by her initials (~xxx~) that her stories trend toward the very graphic, NSFW, not for minors category.
If that’s not your thing, you are excused. Otherwise, howdy! Come on in, put your feet up, and hang out for a while. There’s some excerpts of works in progress, and a few finished short stories under “My Writing”.