Author: M.J. O’Shea
Publisher: Self Published
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary YA Romance
Length: Novella (123 pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn
One Sentence Review: A wonderful story about finding love in unexpected places.
Taylor Quinn is in love. He never meant to fall for the hottest guy in school… or any guy at all for that matter. But he did.
Alex Stewart is in love. He took one look at the adorable skater boy with the big lost eyes and was gone.
They’re both happier than they’ve ever been, but can their fragile new love possibly survive?
Unintended is the first book by this relatively new (commercially published, at least) author that I’ve read, and I’m glad I picked it up. This is a very sweet tale of two teens who fall in love against every expectation.
The story opens with husbands Alex and Taylor in the present day moving into the house they’ve renovated. A decade has passed since they first met. Jump back ten years to that fateful day when the beautiful and rich new kid in town, Alex, reluctantly has a party at his house at the encouragement of his mother. They were going to be in Seattle for a while — the nature of his dad’s work has them moving around a lot — and he needs to make some friends in his senior class. He has had his eye on classmate Taylor for the short while he’s been there, though he is way too shy to say anything. At the party and looking for a bathroom, Taylor gets lost in the mansion Alex lives in and stumbles upon him hiding out in his room. They end up spending the night discovering that they have a lot in common and forging a bond that will change their lives. An easy, fast friendship develops, and though Alex — long self-aware that he is gay — wants it to be more, he understands that Taylor may not know what it is that he is feeling and is willing to wait. Soon Taylor gets a clue and the two take their relationship to the next level. In love and wanting to spend forever together, there is only one problem: though Taylor is completely at ease with Alex when they are alone, he is terrified to take it public, and this causes some big problems along the way that threaten their happiness and future together.
Switching back and forth between periods of time ten years apart, the story is presented in a way where in the current time Alex or Taylor would think of or do something that takes them back to something significant in the early days and that part of the tale is told. Ultimately, we get their first year complete that way, with glimpses of what they are like ten years later. It worked well for me and there is no confusion as the sections are marked.
I loved both protags, who felt very real to me, and my guess is that there are both Alexes and Taylors out there. Surprisingly and refreshingly there is very little angst in these teens getting together considering one of them has never been with a same-sex partner before (angst does rear its head later in the story, but not for the majority of the book). Lonely Alex, who longs for real friends, would trade his wealth for friendship and the chance to stay in one place, and is willing to be patient and wait until Taylor realizes what he is feeling:
He had felt it about a million times that wonderful insane night that they’d spent bonding in his room. He knew Taylor felt it too, could see it in his eyes. He also knew Taylor hadn’t realized what was happening between them and was still calling it friendship in his mind.
Laid-back Taylor pretty much just accepts that he is attracted to Alex and wants to be with him in every possible way. There is very little of this “but he’s a boy!” stuff that some males would fret about; it crosses his mind initially, but that’s it.
What the hell is going on here? I’m not… But Taylor couldn’t finish the thought. He didn’t know what he was. What he did know was that he had never felt anything so strong in his life…He guessed he’d worry about what it meant later.
Additionally, there are no problems in their circle of friends and only some external conflict that ultimately causes issues for our heroes.
I found the chemistry to be scorching hot and palpable. I remember the time when a touch meant everything and caused my whole body to tingle, and reading those parts were nostalgic for me.
The secondary cast of characters is rather small — the story focuses mostly on the protags and their interaction — and includes some friends, some of them life-long, such as Taylor’s insightful best friend Beth and Taylor’s new friend at college, Katie. We also get some glimpses of Alex’s accepting parents and a few homophobic classmates.
I highly recommend Unintended to those looking for a sweet YA (and late-twenties thrown in) romance, and I look forward to future releases by this author.