Erica PikeA Life Without You (Boston Boys, #1)MLR Press, January 13, 2012 | 236 pages
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Jesse's like a bar of soap: the tighter Adam holds on, the faster Jesse slips away. Or that's how it feels to Adam. It doesn't help that Jesse has a girlfriend back home and claims to be straight, but there's no way with all the sparks and physical intimacy flying between the two roommates.
When Adam believes he has reached his ultimate happiness, the bedroom walls come crashing down with a visit from Jesse's girlfriend.
Now Jesse has to decide if he can come to terms with his sexuality, while Adam has to learn to accept that Jesse might never be able to crawl out of the closet.
Genre & Keywords: M/M Romance, Contemporary, GFY, Coming Out of the Closet, Cheating, Angst, College, Roommates
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2.5 out of 3 flames
This is one of the most intense coming out stories I've read in a while. The Gay For You theme is executed in a fabulous but heart-wrenching way. Told from the first person POV of college boy Adam, who is taking us for an emotional roller coaster ride that is his tale of falling in love with straight roommate Jesse. And what an unforgettable ride it was!
Adam's object of obsession is not only straight but engaged to be married as well. And let me warn you: Jesse is incredibly hardheaded and persistent to marry the girl back home (Anna aka Chirpy) for a long time into the story. In fact, he even sticks to this idea while he is starting to have mind numbing sex with Adam. So, he is a cheater with a capital C. That's part of what makes this story so intense, and if you can't handle that I advise you to stay away from this book. However, you'll be missing out on an incredible and fabulous love story with a HEA so realistic and heartfelt that I felt it in my little toe.
The GFY theme is one of my favorite themes when handled delicately, which is definitely the case here. With little steps at the time Adam and Jesse explore each other and Jesse’s curiosity of everything that is gay. The realization that he might be bisexual, or even gay, comes slowly but gradually and even started before he and Adam got physical. It's the coming to terms with that realization that takes him a lot more time. Jesse is a hero to love and to hate, and in my opinion the author managed to balance these contradicting feelings he evokes in me very well. His hurtful or stupid actions are not extenuated but shown as they are which makes you want to hit him hard, while in other moments we witness his excruciating inner turmoil which makes your heart go out to him too. Jesse is definitely a multi-layered character with actions that come across as painfully realistic.
Adam's character is at least as three-dimensional as Jesse's. Adam surely evolves throughout the story from an obsessed, love-sick puppy who is satisfied with each little bit of attention from Jesse he can get to a more mature, however equally faithful and devoted, man who stands up for himself and refuses to let Jesse use and hurt him again. Another character that stayed far from being a cardboard figure was Adam's friend Eric. He takes care of Adam when he falls apart and is a great friend. He shows Adam a different side of himself than his outgoing gayer-than-gay persona he presents the outside world. I'm curious to learn more about this flamboyant side-character in the second book of this series (titled Absolutely Eric).
I think it's safe to say that A Life Without You is a character driven story. There's not much of a plot outside college life and exams, apart from a few twists and turns, like the girlfriend coming to visit Jesse, which mainly function as a catalyst for the next step in Adam and Jesse's relationship. I love character driven stories, especially when there's a good dose of angst involved and I can truly feel an emotional connection with one or both MCs. And that certainly is the case with this novel. Add to that the lifelike backdrop of college life with classes, studying for exams and parties; the presence of a small group of colorful gay friends who can become the potential main character in one of the next installments of the Boston Boys series; and the author's skillful pen that has the ability to keep your eyes glued to the pages, willing to skip some sleep in order to finish her book. And you have me content and satisfied like a purring cat in front of a fireplace continuously crawled behind her ears for hours in a row. Oh, and did I mention the scorching hot sex scenes? How could I almost forget about that? It's not for lack of steam, because these two college boys definitely have electrifying hot chemistry. And not only that, the sex scenes also mark each new step on their emotional path of building a relationship on top of them being hot. It's not only sex for the sake of sex, so these scenes never get boring. I found them very well written and highly arousing.
So, although this might not be an easy read for everyone, I can certainly recommend it if you don't have issues with stories about cheaters and don't mind reading with a couple of tissues at hand. For me this was an incredible and delightful read which showed me a few corners of the emotional spectrum and which kept me up all night until I finished it.