Author: Tessa Cardenas
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: As a principal dancer for a contemporary New York ballet company, Sean has the privilege of working with student interns. The company’s newest intern, Lupe, is a talented dancer from Purchase College—but the man who picks her up from class really piques Sean’s interest.
Jaime is Lupe’s cousin, a photography and graphic design student at Purchase. Not long after Sean and Jaime start dating, their casual hookups evolve into something special, something neither wants to lose—no matter how a commitment will complicate their lives.
Lupe figures out the nature of their relationship and outs Jaime to his extremely religious Arizona family. Sean decides to support Jaime all the way, even though Jaime might choose pleasing his family over a life of love and freedom with Sean.
Review: I usually do a little story recap at the beginning of my reviews, but this time the blurb really does a great job and says any and everything I would have to say. I want to take as much time as possible to discuss this fantabulous book.
It is hard for me to believe that this is only the second book by Tessa Cardenas. This author has such a strong voice and such well rounded characters that I was sucked into the story almost immediately. There was no beating around the bush, there wasn’t any unnecessary angst, and the story just seemed to flow.
Sean was a pretty straight forward character. Not only is he a principal dancer in a ballet company, but he was also a silver spooner who had never really needed to take off the rose colored glasses. I liked that the author never made him seem arrogant with his money and he was also not one of those rich people who never left his McMansion long enough to see the real life everyday problems us “normal” people deal with. Sean just seems to have it pretty easy. His family embraces his sexuality as just another part of him, so he has never had to deal with disapproval first hand.
Jaime is a hard working Graphic Design student. He comes from a traditionally Catholic Hispanic family. They aren’t rich by any means, but they do okay. One thing Jaime knows for a fact is that he can never come out, EVER. This is the reason he goes to school in New York instead of closer to his family in Arizona. He figures what they don’t know won’t hurt either of them.
After a false start Jaime and Sean become a couple. When they begin to get serious, they are caught together by Lupe, Jaime’s cousin and a dancer in Sean’s ballet company, and all hell breaks loose. This is the point where Jaime and Sean have to pull up their big boy panties and decide if they mean enough to one another to fight for what they want.
When the Christmas holidays come around, Lupe outs Jaime to his entire family while he is visiting in Arizona. This prompts Jaime to make some serious, life altering decisions. His family throws around some harsh accusations, and he has to decide if he can live without his family, if being true to himself will be enough.
At the same time, Sean is starting to realize that life isn’t always sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns. Not all parents embrace every facet of their children, and not all families love you no matter what. Sean also has to find the strength to let Jaime make his own decisions and no matter how much he loves him, all he can do is be there for him, no matter his choice.
Another huge part of this story is the supporting characters. Tessa Cardenas gave both Sean and Jaime very strong female friends who always had their backs. These women would make them face the truths and consequences of their actions, and never give them any quarter. They also loved these men, unconditionally. Then there was Travis. The straight best friend to Sean. Travis had a subtle way of showing how much he cared. He pulled off overprotective with a dash of “I would walk through fire for you” all in the same breath.
All of these great characters came together to form a story that kept me turning pages until I hit The End, before I was ready for it. As I said before, there were no huge angsty moments, no knock down drag out fights, and the confrontations with most of Jaime’s family took place off page. This in no way took away from the reality of Jaime’s situation. I knew that Jaime had to make a decision that would either leave him as part of a family and miserable, or happy with himself and having to make his own family.
I can’t recommend this book enough and I am looking so forward to seeing more work from this author.