Title: Dating Ryan Alback
Author: J.E. Birk
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Length: 255 Pages
At a Glance: I had fun with this one. The flow was good and the writing style easy-going. If you’re looking for something light but with enough substance to keep you engaged, I recommend giving this one a go.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Ryan Alback has almost everything he’s ever wanted: a successful acting career, a dog who adores him, great family and friends, and a life outside the closet. The only thing missing is a boyfriend—but Ryan’s been burned by Hollywood relationships before, and he’s not eager to try one again.
Jason Santos has almost everything he’s ever wanted: a fulfilling career teaching middle school, a house in a city he loves, and parents who support him in every way. Too bad he can’t seem to forget the ex-boyfriend who rejected his marriage proposal.
When a talk show host launches a dating contest to find Ryan a boyfriend and Jason accidentally wins, neither of them expect anything to come from it. Yet somewhere between a disastrous massage and a mud sinkhole, they both start to wonder if this date could be more than just a public relations stunt. But before they can move into the future, they’ll both have to learn to let go of the past.
Review: I’m in a place right now where cute, shmoopy books are what I need to mainly be reading. I know many of you feel me on that. The world is freaking me out at unhealthy levels –so, I need a little escape, ya know?!? Dating Ryan Alback by new-to-me author J.E. Birk fit the bill nicely. It was sweet, but with just the right amount of drama, so it wasn’t schmaltzy. Just a cute, feel-good romance, with an adorable cover!
Ryan has a fateful Valentine’s Day talk show appearance, wherein he gets teased about being single. Again. And, after which he agrees to be set up on a blind date with a man of the show’s choosing. The man the show picks is, of course, Jason, and a weekend getaway to Vermont is planned by the studio. The date is definitely awkward at times, not many blind dates aren’t, but mostly it’s obvious that they have more in common than either one realized, and that they really do have a connection.
Both guys are relatable and likeable from the get-go. Our title character is a former teen drama star, turned serious actor, who loves nothing more than hanging out at home with his neurotic rescue pup. And then we have Jason Santos who doesn’t just play a teacher on TV, he actually is a middle school teacher. Jason is amazing at his job, which he also truly loves, and works tirelessly to try to get his passion project, nonprofit program Family First, off the ground. Both characters were intelligent, caring, and hardworking, albeit each with a little bit of baggage.
Ryan was burned by a former boyfriend—a less successful fellow actor—who threatened to out him anyway when Ryan said he wasn’t ready to come out together. In a preemptive move, Ryan decided to come out on his own, on his own terms. But, as a result of everything that happened, he has extreme trust issues which cause him to unreasonably and mistakenly lash out at Jason during their weekend in Vermont when a tabloid story about them surfaces.
Luckily, Ryan’s best friend, Danny, who I completely loved, shows up in New York to talk some sense into him, and once his show goes on hiatus, Ryan takes the time to travel to Colorado to try for another shot with Jason. Though initially still angry, Jason does give Ryan another chance, and things get back on track for our guys. There were some nice moments in this second half of the book. They learn a lot about each other’s character, and about the old hurts they are both holding on to. I also loved the scene where Ryan spends time in Jason’s classroom and reaches out to one of the students. All of the interactions seem very genuine.
I had fun with this one. The flow was good and the writing style easy-going. If you’re looking for something light but with enough substance to keep you engaged, I recommend giving this one a go. I look forward to checking out more from this author.
You can buy Dating Ryan Alback here: