Author: Amy Jo Cousins
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 249 Pages
At a Glance: One of the strengths of this author is her character development skills; the guys are real, I could relate to them, and I loved joining them in this story.
Reviewed By: Janet
Blurb: Humble pie wasn’t supposed to taste this sweet.
Jack Tarkington’s life is in the toilet. He was supposed to be spending his junior year studying someplace cool like Paris or Rome. Instead, after taking out his anger on the campus “golden boy”, whose dad ripped off his parents, Jack is facing possible expulsion.
Sure, it’s all his own fault, but coming back to the small Iowa town he thought he’d escaped, after crowing about his admission to a prestigious school, has been a humbling experience.
When he runs into Miguel, Jack braces for backlash over the way he lorded it over his old friend and flame. Instead, Miguel offers him friendship—and a job at his growing farm-to-table store and café.
Against the odds, both guys bond over broken dreams and find common ground in music. But when Jack’s college gives him a second chance, he’s torn between achieving a dream that will take him far from home, and a love that strikes a chord he’ll never find anywhere else.
Review: This is the second story in the Bend or Break universe, written by a fairly new author. It delivered quite the punch, and Amy Jo Cousins should be very proud of her work, as I found the book to be gripping from start to finish, and couldn’t put it down. I had the good fortune to not have read the first book which meant that I had another book to dive into as soon as I finished this one, because I just had to see for myself the wrong that Jack had done.
What a novel concept to have an MC I was sure I shouldn’t like or feel sorry for, but liking him anyway. Really! I don’t usually have only one side of a story, as I am pretty careful to read related stories in order, so this was a totally new experience for me. Jack is quite the character too, and totally worth the mixed emotions I felt as I read this book. I also loved the fact that although these are college age guys, they are not boys fresh out of high school, so there was no squick factor for me as I read. The ritual of being a grown up and owning your actions is given a fresh look with these MCs. Jack and Mike are each from difficult families, difficult for very different reasons, and the way they achieve their independence is a powerful plot of the story. The relationship that was theirs all through high school, and where it will go in the future, is another. The steps they take in their dance towards a relationship again are equal parts sweet and tentative, with a good dash of hot thrown in.
I really enjoyed the pace and flow of this story. There were many storylines going on all the time, but nothing felt jumbled or off track. The love story and hope for the future built up throughout the story and really kept my focus for the entire book. The sex scenes were hot but not gratuitous, and really helped the reader to be more invested in the MCs’ lives. I really liked the humor the author has in her tone of voice while narrating this story; it invites the reader in as a sympathetic witness to the MCs’ struggles, while letting us giggle at some of the shenanigans they get up to.
This story is a standalone novel, even though it is based on events from the prior book. I had no issues with a lack of understanding, as the POVs are totally separate and the link between the novels is simply the college and crossover characters. One of the strengths of this author is her character development skills; the guys are real, I could relate to them, and I loved joining them in this story. The HEA the MCs earned, as well as the hope and excitement for their future, means this book will be a favorite reread for me – although I hope it won’t be too long of a wait for another book from this author. I really enjoy her work.
You can buy Nothing Like Paris here: