Zac Mitchell and Bryce Tellier were best friends for the first two years of college, but things got complicated their junior year. Their senior year isn’t looking to get any easier. Zac is out with a bang, featured in a magazine article on queer college athletes. Bryce didn’t have a clue, but now Zac’s revelation is shattering his world, making him question everything he thinks he knows, making him wonder if he’ll manage to keep things together. Bryce’s father wants him out of the house he shares with Zac and two other friends, doesn’t want him around someone like Zac.
Bryce has spent years ducking his brothers’ accusations about his sexuality. Now, Bryce has to decide where he stands, and he has to face how Zac makes him feel. Zac spent years working up the courage to come out and now he might have to go back in the closet to be with the person he wants most. Nothing seems right when Zac and Bryce part, so can these boys make their relationship work?
The story is fairly straightforward. Zac and his friend Perry had come out spectacularly in a magazine article on gay college athletes at the end of the previous school year. As a result they and their best friend Bryce had become estranged, since Bryce felt betrayed that they had not trusted him enough to confide in him before the news became public. Flash forward to the new school year and Bryce is still struggling with the fact that he lost his friends. He really misses Zac and in addition he is conflicted about his sexuality, because even though he always thought he was straight he had had sexual feelings towards other males since his early teens and he couldn’t stop thinking about Zac his former best friend in a sexual way.
When they met again Bryce is still hurt about being left out of the loop, but his sexual feelings for Zac kept coming to the fore. To make matters worse Bryce’s entire family is homophobic and his father, who was paying the freight for his tuition and accommodation, had demanded as soon as the magazine article hit the stands that he move out of the house he shared with his three friends because of Zac’s sexual orientation. To put it mildly, Bryce was a mess on all fronts.
As I kept reading the story, I was drawn to Bryce and Zac as a moth to a flame and kept asking myself how could I like these characters, especially Bryce who represented everything I hated – then it hit me – he was vulnerable and oh so likable. There was no way I wanted this story to end with anything other than a HEA because I knew that Bryce’s heart would break if he couldn’t have Zac. When there was no longer any ambiguity about his feelings for Zac, Bryce was initially in a state of denial but he gradually embraced what he knew was his love for another man. There were many emotional highs and lows as his personality changed from the frightened young man that he was into the man he would become. Bryce knew that he wanted Zac in his life and it was clear that even though he had sex with women before, he never felt it was something to be savoured, but rather something he wanted to be over as quickly as possible. There was one scene in the beginning of the story where he had pity sex with an ex who had just broken up with her new boyfriend, and for him the sex was mechanical, not an act in which he took a lot of pleasure. This scene was not on page sex but it was evident they had been to bed together.
Zac was a wonderful character who was much stronger emotionally and he loved Bryce despite his flaws since he understood what coming out would mean to him in terms of losing his family when/if he told them he was gay. He was prepared to wait until Bryce made a decision about their future and not pressure him, even though that meant he was technically back in the closet because he could not tell anyone that Bryce was his boyfriend.
Bryce could hardly keep it together as his emotions controlled his life, but there was one thing he knew he wanted above all and that was to have Zac as his boyfriend. I watched him evolve from the weak character he was in the beginning of the book to someone anyone would proud of, as he was determined to show Zac that even though he was concerned about public scrutiny and his family’s reactions he was prepared to show the world that Zac was his man. The sex was unbelievably erotic and tender as Bryce progressed through every stage of gay sex and each time was a milestone for him which he approached with a sense of wonder.
What didn’t work for me
There were a few things that bothered me and some of them had to do with what I considered Crow’s and Fox’s overarching sense of cleanliness which they couldn’t contain at times. I’m not sure that college guys living together would care about “smoothing the coffee filter down so it wouldn’t collapse and get grounds everywhere.” There were other occasions when the authors’ tidy gene would not be denied, but thankfully there weren’t too many.
The other more important aspect of the book that didn’t quite ring true was that Bryce’s and Zac’s roommates never suspected anything even though they were sleeping together every night and were always with each other, with no girlfriend in sight. Either they were dense or stupid or didn’t care – I couldn’t decide which. Also, Bryce’s big reveal was because of Perry who made him see the light, and I thought it was rather strange to have the important light bulb moment happen in this fashion. I also felt that the authors came really close to the line in making Bryce a caricature, but managed to stay just ahead of the curve.
I was drawn to the love Zac and Bryce had for each other and the emotional roller coaster that I could not get off. I loved Becoming Us because it showed Bryce’s evolution from someone who was deathly afraid of what others thought of him, to a man who was proud to be with his boyfriend Zac and acknowledge him in public in full view of others. Both characters were three dimensional but I related to Bryce a bit more even though his was not the typical characterization that normally appeals to me. The authors showed skill in creating both protagonists with all their flaws and emotional baggage, while avoiding the trap of making them caricatures.
Becoming Us represents everything I hate about M/M romance and the characterizations – lots of crying, indecision, emotional overload and angst, and at least half of the book is sex, yet I loved the protagonists and the story, both of which triumphed over what I considered to be negatives.
You will either love or hate this book – there is no middle ground, but I’m betting that more of you will love it. Definitely recommended.