The Boy Next Door


Title: The Boy Next Door
Author: Kate McMurray
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (147 PDF pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

A guest review by Tj

Summary Review: A well written and moving story about a second chance at love with a childhood friend and teenage crush.

The Blurb: When Lowell moves back to his hometown to take care of his ailing mother, the last person he expects to see living in the house next door is his childhood friend Jase, grown up now and more attractive than ever. Jase had starred in many of Lowell’s teenage fantasies, but Lowell is convinced Jase is straight. And yet, as they rekindle their friendship, it begins to look like Jase might not be so straight after all.

Jase has problems of his own: his troubled ex-wife has allowed him full custody of their daughter on one condition: he never exposes her to his affairs with other men. The arrangement works just fine until he starts falling for Lowell and a whole new world of possibilities opens up for him. But how can he have a relationship with a man and still keep his daughter?

The Review: Kate McMurray has penned quite a well done story here. We start off by meeting Lowell as he is closing on a house in his hometown of Greenbriar, CT – a place from which he ran as a teenager, never planning to return. We quickly learn that Lowell has inadvertently (or perhaps unconsciously?) bought a house next door to his childhood friend and teenage crush Jase. I really liked this part, as we get to feel Lowell’s discomfort at having to possibly see Jase again. It seems that Lowell and Jase had been inseparable as children, but as teenagers drifted apart. But that didn’t stop Lowell from fantasizing about Jase who became  a jock baseball player, while Lowell became a self described “art fag”, who came out in high school and unfortunately became somewhat of a pariah.

Of course living next door, there’s no way that Lowell could avoid Jase, and soon the guys meet again. It was heart warming to watch as Lowell and Jase slowly get reacquainted – initially as just friends since Lowell thinks Jase is straight. Having not seen each other in many years they are virtual strangers, yet they are both familiar to the other, having shared so much as boys. Ms. McMurray did a wonderful job of making the reader feel that connection, that indescribable something that you have with someone who has known you for your whole life – with the added layer of getting acquainted with the men that they had become.

The characters of Lowell and Jase really came to life for me and their revived friendship and budding romance felt very real. But the road to love is not an easy one. Jase has a troubled ex-wife Karen, who is understandably hurt from Jase’s rejection of her, and tries to control his life by threatening his custody of their daughter. As much as I wanted to hate Karen, and at times I felt that she was a bit of a harpy, I could also understand her pain, a pain that anyone who has had an unrequited love will understand. Although the reader can deduce a lot from her actions, I would’ve actually loved to learn what was going on in Karen’s head.

Because of Karen’s interference, there is a roller-coaster ride of emotions as Jase both embraces his relationship with Lowell and pushes him away to keep his daughter with him and his rather sterile life unchanged. The author handled this realistically, rendering emotions that rang true for me, while not succumbing to the overdramatic. Jase has to keep his daughter’s well being upmost in his mind, and at times sacrifices his budding relationship with Lowell to do this. You will feel both Jase’s struggle and Lowell’s pain, and understand them both. Although you may get angry by Jase’s treatment of Lowell – it did seem very much in character. But don’t fret fellow readers, our boys get a very realistic HFN – that leaves us hope that they will work on their HEA. As Jase says in the end “One step at a time”.

I can highly recommend this beautifully moving story. Enjoy!

29 comments

  • This sounds great Tj, definitely a book that I’m in the mood to read right now. Thanks for such an insightful review, I’m going to go out and get this one right away 🙂

    Reply
  • Tj

    The characters of Lowell and Jase really came to life for me and their revived friendship and budding romance felt very real

    This part I know I will definitely like but it’s all the angst that makes me hesitate having just finished a book with a lot of the aforementioned angst.

    Whenever you review a book Tj you make it come alive and even when I’m hesitating I still want to get it. I know that I’m going to hate Jase for the way he treats Lowell.

    I loved another book that I reviewed by Kate, Kindling Fire with Snow so I’m going to take a chance with this one. Thanks for this wonderful review Teej.

    Reply
    • That’s very nice of you to say Wave. Thank you. Personally, I didn’t feel like there was a lot of angst, but Jase struggles with his attraction to Lowell and is trying to placate his ex-wife, so he waffles a bit. There’s really only one part where I wanted to smack him upside the head, but it’s pretty quick like pulling off a bandage. I think the payoff of experiencing their growing love is well worth the angsty parts.

      Think of it this way, if that angst-fest of a book that we discussed is a 10, this is maybe a 5 – kind of angst-lite. It’s got all the drama, but 50% fewer throw the book across the room moments. Honestly, it was really good. And you’ll love the guys and Lowell’s friend Joanie and Jase’s daughter, who is so cute and just loves Lowell.

      Reply
  • Ms. McMurray did a wonderful job of making the reader feel that connection, that indescribable something that you have with someone who has known you for your whole life – with the added layer of getting acquainted with the men that they had become.

    Nice insight here, TJ! This does sound unique and intriguing. Plus, I’ve enjoyed the two other ones I’ve read by her, so I should probably pick it up.

    Reply
    • Thanks Val! I liked how Kate wove their past and present together, and showed how the 2 men had changed, but still were the boys they had known inside. As much as they knew about each other, there was a lot to learn. If you’ve enjoyed Kate’s writing, then this won’t disappoint you.

      Reply
    • My pleasure Pea! This was really well written and you will like the boys a lot. Come back and let me know how you liked it.

      Reply
      • Hi Tj, In the end, while I liked Lowell – and especially enjoyed how the author depicted his relationship with Layla – I found Jase just a touch too unsympathetic. Sigh. I thought it was well-written though and will check out more of Kate McMurray’s work. Thanks again!

        Reply
        • Hi Pea – I’m glad you dropped back to let me know what you thought. I completely understand not really liking Jase so much with his issues. There were times that I didn’t like him so much either. What helped me with his character was keeping in mind that he was protecting his daughter at all costs. But that doesn’t mean that I liked what he did, only that saw the reason why. I’m just glad that he redeemed himself in the end. Thanks again for coming back!

          Reply
  • I’m so glad you liked this. I have this on my Nook waiting to be read. I hate when I get a wild hair and buy something and live to regret it. Thanks for the review, Tj.

    Reply
    • You’re welcome Marilyn. You should definitely try “The Boy Next Door”. If the blurb appealed to you, I think you won’t be disappointed. Let me know what you think after you finish reading.

      Reply
      • I finished reading this and really enjoyed it, though I wanted to whomp Jase up against the head with a 2×4 from time to time. But then, that’s not such an unusual thing in the books I read. LOL

        Reply
        • Hi Marilyn – I’m with you on wanting to bop Jase on the head! LOL But I think Kate did a good job of showing how torn a parent is when is child’s best interests conflict with his attempts to have a love life. And the ending made up for Jase’s craziness. I’m so glad that you enjoyed it and thanks so much for coming back to let me know what you thought.

          Reply
  • Great review TJ. I read this one a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it – for all the reasons you mention. I did get a little miffed at Jase but this story was written so well that the feeling didn’t last long. Both Jase and Lowell were very likeable and believable and they had a strong set of friends as secondary characters helping them out too.

    Reply
    • Hi Diane – thank you. I’m so happy that you enjoyed Jase and Lowell’s story too. I think it’s impossible not to get mad at Jase, but I kept reminding myself that he was on a journey and had to work through his issues before he could be with Lowell. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply

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