Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Swiftly Dusted: Review of One Real Thing by Anah Crow and Dianne Fox

Author: Anah Crow and Dianne Fox
Title: One Real Thing
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Carina Press
Release date: January 3, 2011
Length: 65200 words

Backblurb/Goodreads link | Anah Crow's website | Dianne Fox's website | buy link

Genre & keywords:
M/M, Romance, Contemporary, Friends to Lovers, Gay For You-ish, Infidelity, Addiction, Hitting rock bottom, D/s-ish elements

Synopsis in short:
Nick and Holly have been friends forever but live in different parts of the country and have lost sight from each other. Until Holly makes the tabloids thanks to some celebrity, and it becomes apparent that his bad habits are making him hit rock bottom hard. Nick comes to his rescue, once more, and takes him with him to New York. Slowly it becomes clear that their feelings for each other go beyond friendship. But Nick is married.

Setting: A great part of the story takes place in New York, in the apartment Nick has rented for Holly. After Holly's recovery he moves to a different city and travels a lot for his new job, but even then the New York apartment is still an important part of the setting.

POV: The point of view, in third person, alternates between Nick and Holly, per chapter.

H/H & characterization: Talk about heroes with flaws: these guys have tons of them. Especially Holly is rather self-destructive and his attitude at the beginning of the story is difficult to like. Nick’s most important flaw is his infidelity towards his wife and towards his own feelings. However their characterization is done wonderfully: We get a detailed and thorough view on these heroes and we are made a close witness to their emotions, thoughts and feelings. This makes them well-rounded characters who become more and more irresistible and loveable. I loved the stilled moments between them where it seemed no outside world existed and where they grew closer and closer to each other. Nick’s lies to his wife didn’t bother me very much thanks to the way his behavior was explained via his perspective. Maybe his wife was a bit too conveniently cold-hearted, but what mattered to me were Nick’s feelings toward her and his marriage. Those were shown clearly and gave an insight in his choices.

Empathy level: Thanks to the alternating perspectives and the very close look we get, it’s really easy to empathize with both Holly and Nick. We’re there every step it takes them to come to the realization they’re meant for each other. This is something that takes Nick more time than Holly, because he’s the one with another (female!) partner. I had a little more difficulty with understanding the whole D/s thing that starts to develop between them once they become a couple. From Holly’s point of view it’s explained a little bit better than it’s from Nick’s, but this aspect of their relationship left me in riddles altogether.

Heat level: It takes Nick and Holly two thirds of the pages to share a first kiss. By then, months have passed since the beginning of the book. The first two thirds of the book consist of a long slow build-up with a lot of tension and then the hot stuff takes place - finally, but well-timed. The smexy scenes were well-written, with emotional depth, and were definitely hot, but all the foot kissing was I bit too much for me. Also, I was a little confused to learn during a bed scene that Nick apparently had gay sex before (years ago in college). Until then I was under the impression that this was a ‘gay for you’ themed story. This made me instantly wonder why Nick and Holly hadn’t hooked up earlier on in their friendship. I think it was unnecessary to mention this, because it didn’t add anything to the story, except confusion. 2 out of 3 flames

Angst level: This is an intense story. First we get a lot of heaviness when the focus is on Holly’s addiction problems and later we get more when Nick experiences his own break-down. But this book also has some lighter moments and once Holly is recovered he’s a delightful character. Especially when he’s together with Danner, his new boss and friend, with whom he has a lot in common, like their sense of humor. Those scenes are joyful. But these are definitely outnumbered by the more heart-squeezing, emotional moments. 2 out of 3 hankies

Overall entertainment level: The writing style of this author duo has a way of drawing you in their story real deep and very fast. I started reading the book in the late evening and I couldn’t put it down until early in the morning. And I happily gave up those few hours of sleep. It’s a character-driven story, just how I like them. Nick and Holly kept me engrossed from beginning to end, even when they made me lightly frown a few times during the last part of the book. I regretted finishing their story because I didn’t want to leave them yet. So yeah, this was definitely a highly entertaining and enjoyable read for me.

Final judgment:
Best friends have to hit rock bottom before finding happiness together in an emotional, enthralling story that could’ve done with less foot kissing.
4.75 out of 5 stars

Holly cupped Nick’s face with slick hands as he met Nick partway. There was nothing tentative or teasing about the way Holly kissed. It was sweet and tender and open with the gentle brush of Holly’s tongue over Nick’s lips.
It wasn’t anything Nick had expected—it was better. He met Holly’s tongue with his own, tasting him. Holly was every bit as delicious as Nick had ever imagined him to be and more. He teased at Holly’s tongue and then slowly pulled back to press light kisses to Holly’s lips.


  1. Oh looks like a good one! Nice review as always. xoxo

  2. On my list somewhere - this storyline normally works for me, so will probably enjoy it..

    Still reading my back list now though


  3. I loved this one! I think I got sniffly more than once.

  4. @FV: It is a good one! Thanks. :)

    @EH: I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did, once you'll get to it! :D

    @Chris: Me too, me too. :d

  5. Me likes the sound of the emotional progress between these guys! You know me and intense stories, I haz to get them ;)

  6. I keep thinking it's f/m when his name is Holly

  7. @Leontine: This one delivers in the intense department, that's for sure. :)

    @Blodeuedd: Holly is short for Hollister (or something - I'm too lazy to look it up), but yeah, I had the same trouble at first, but you'll get used to it. ;)

  8. I've had my eye on this one forever! I neeeeed to read it :)

  9. Awesome review, Janna! The book sounds fab. Loved the little excerpt, too :)

  10. Lovely review Janna. I adored this book - I just completely fell in love with Holly (I love it when I can connect to a character so completely). And the emotional connection between him and Nick... *swoon*

  11. Another great review, Janna!

    I loved this story too. :)

  12. @Mandy: What are you waiting for then? ;)

    @Ava: It is fab! I'm definitely going to read more by this author duo. :)

    @orannia: I fell in love with Holly too, he's such a delight! :) I'm glad you like this book as much as I did!

    @Lily: Thank you, Lily! :D It was easy to love, wasn't it?

  13. Gotta say, even though the book looks pretty good, I think it's one I'm going to have to pass on.

    First, his name is Holly. That seems like it's too convenient... trying to make it more like a m/f even though it's m/m. Feels like the they're trying to trick more readers into reading.

    Second, while I love friends become lovers, I'm never ok with cheating. The wife may be a cold fish or a bitch, but she's still the wife.

    Third, I hate when they randomly throw D/s into a story just because it seems like the thing to do.

    But I do love character-driven stories with a lot of angst. Hmm... maybe I'll give it a chance after all. I mean, 2/3 hankies? That's almost a guarantee that I'm in. LOL

  14. @Mama Kitty: I can assure you that, even with the feminine name, there's nothing feminine about these characters or this story. ;)

    About the cheating, I hope you don't find this too spoilerish, but it's actually the wife who's cheating on Nick...

    On the D/s thing I totally agree with you, even though this wasn't the chains and leather kind of D/s at all. (thank goodness ;))

    Character-driven angsty stories are definitely me favorite! :)
    Let me know if/when you give it a chance after all, because I'm very curious if you'll still think the same about the above points when you finished it.

    Thanks for commenting! :)


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