Better by Jaime Samms
Published by: Dreamspinner Press on January 26, 2012
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)
Jesse Turbul has tried hard to put the traumatic events of his last relationship behind him. The experience left him unable to trust–not just someone else but even himself–and as much as he wants to move on, it seems like the reminders just keep coming back to haunt him. When he meets Aadon in the library, he finds himself wanting to get past his issues more than ever, but he learns that you can’t rush things that shouldn’t be rushed. What Jesse doesn’t know is that Aadon is dealing with some issues of his own. His brother, Ricky, experienced some trauma of his own in his youth, and after turning to drugs to cope, is in a facility–and Aadon is the only member of his family who is willing to support and stand by him. It is a lot for one person to take on, and while it might make him uniquely suited to understand where Jesse is coming from, it might also mean that Aadon is much closer to his own breaking point than anyone realizes. Can the two find the right balance between love, support, and space to deal?
There is a lot of backstory here that reveals itself as the book goes on and brings out the characters’ pasts (especially Jesse’s) in layers. This works to help readers understand the complexity of the issues at play without throwing everyone our way all at once. There are some details that are never revealed, but this is balanced with enough information to get the picture and a recognition that those details aren’t necessary to engage with the plot and the characters and understand what they are going through. I found this to be an enjoyable and interesting read, and although it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, there is a bit of an uplifting feel to it overall.
Bound to Fall by Jaime Samms
Published by: Dreamspinner Press on June 26, 2015
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)
Actor Eddie Crane has been plagued with guilt and in mourning for almost a decade. Ever since the love of his life died in a car accident, while Eddie was driving, he’s felt responsible for the death and exhibits a recklessness that could only be described as dangerous. But his manager and best friend always does the best she can to keep him on track. And she’s hoping that some time out of the spotlight learning to ride horses for an upcoming role can help–at least for a little while.
Arthur Pike has mixed feelings about having to teach Eddie to ride. Eddie doesn’t make a good first impression. But Pike can’t deny that the actor has played a role in more than one of his fantasies over the years. And even though it might be easy just to dismiss Eddie as a piece of work, Pike can’t deny that he comes with enough of his own baggage to fill a storage locker.
When it becomes clear the spark of attraction is mutual, they both need to make some decisions. Can Eddie find a way to open up to someone else, knowing that it could all be over in a flash? Can Pike put his own bruised heart aside and trust that love is possible? And can the two of them stay out of trouble long enough to not find themselves on the cover of every tabloid magazine?
These two guys… They’ve both been through so much, and I just had to feel for them. Now that’s not to say there weren’t moments when I wanted to reach through the pages and shake them. But the author approaches their hesitations, their reservations, and their choices in what I feel is a very organic, respectful, and realistic way. And despite some of the heavy baggage they both bring to the story, there are moments of humor to get you through. This isn’t a tear-jerker, but it’s a good reflection on love, loss, and trust–not only for another person but also for yourself.
Not As Easy As It Looks by Jaime Samms
Published by: Dreamspinner Press on November 1, 2013
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)
Don Jenkins has been in what most people would see as an unconventional relationship since his early teens. In fact, it’s so unconventional that those around him seemed to identify it even before Don did. Don’s best friend, Griffith McAllister, has been there for him since they first met. And Howard Campbell provided Don with his first sexual experience. But can a relationship really work with three people? It’s one or the other, right? People have to choose, don’t they? Or, when the heart wants what the heart wants, is there a way to make it all work?
Oh. My. Angst. Seriously, this is one of the most angst-filled books I’ve read in a long time. But it’s that good kind of angst that gently rumbles in the pit of your stomach just to make sure you don’t forget it is there. And there’s a lot here about trust. Not just trusting another person, but trusting yourself and trusting your heart. Basically don’t get in your own way when love presents itself, even if it doesn’t look like love in the way society has told you love should be…