The Crush

Title: The Crush
Author: Elizabeth Lister
Cover Artist: Winterheart Designs
Publisher: MLR Press
Buy Link:
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: 119 pages, 32K Words
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Summary Review: This book could have been a lot better with more plot and less sex.



Jack Claridge’s sister, Amy, has a big crush on her English professor, Michael Donovan. When Jack agrees to accompany her on an outing with the object of her affection, the last thing he expects is the professor’s reaction to him. One surreptitious hand-job later and Michael is hooked. But will Jack ‘use him and lose him’ or does Jack care for the professor more than he thinks? And what will he tell Amy?


The blurb pretty well covers the plot of this story. Normally this type of book would not interest me but I had read and reviewed Elizabeth Lister’s first book Exposure which I liked a lot, so I wanted to try The Crush to see if there was a new twist that would make the story unusual, but there wasn’t.

Jack Claridge was a freelance writer who worked in the Chapters bookstore in Ottawa and Michael Donovan was the youngest Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa. Jack’s sister Amy who  sang in a local band had returned to university to complete her degree and Michael was her professor. She had a huge crush on him because he was good looking and charming, and she persuaded Jack to go to a movie with her and Michael so he wouldn’t feel it was a date, since obviously that would be a conflict as he was her prof. When Jack saw Michael he was immediately attracted to him and Michael seemed to return his interest, which begged the question – was he straight or gay? That question was soon answered when they met in the public washroom a few minutes later and kissed. Amy, not knowing about the kiss, asked Michael out on another “date,” a concert by her band, and she made Jack tag along. However the guys left to go to Michael’s apartment while she was on stage.

Michael was falling for Jack who was a typical hot, young, twink. Jack appeared to be only interested in a good time and one night stands while Michael, who was 10 years older, was sick of the singles scene and was looking for a relationship. I had difficulty understanding what Michael saw in Jack because he was a bit of an air head. It wasn’t that his character was two dimensional,  he was just juvenile for a 25 year old, but I suppose this was a case of “opposites attract.”

Several things bothered me about Jack and one was he was a size queen. The first time he and Michael had sex he measured Michael’s dick. I thought this was somewhat crass in a romance. Here’s part of the dialogue:

“Michael, it’s the goddamn Holy Grail…”
“Oh, for God’s sake, Jack, it’s just a cock,” he muttered and moved away from me. “Sometimes I wish it wasn’t so big.”
“Blasphemy, Michael. Don’t ever say that.”
He sat against the headboard, drawing one knee up. “Is that all I am? Just a guy with a nice ass and a big cock?”
“Well, no. You’ve got a great apartment and an impressive literature and music collection.”
He didn’t laugh. He gazed down at the sheets and shook his head slightly. Then he looked at me. “Jack, I don’t know if I can do this.”
“Do what? Fuck me crazy? I’m pretty sure you can. With a weapon like that…”
“I thought I could do this with no strings. I want to do it. But I…can’t.”
“That’s really too bad, Michael.” I looked at his cock once more,imagining how great it would feel inside me.
“That’s it then?” he said.

The Crush is told from Jack’s first person POV. As I indicated above, initially I thought he was very superficial and not very likeable and it took me a while to warm up to him. Amy was also selfish, something that I suppose had to do with their history when they were teenagers; for Jack some of his teenage experiences still rankled which probably made it easier for him not to feel too guilty about stealing Michael.

My other concern about this book was the amount of sex in it. I would say that 60% of the book was Jack and Michael having sex, leading up to having sex, playing with each other before and after sex, talking about sex, buying sex toys, and on and on, at the expense of the story. After a while I just skipped a lot of the action because the sex was boring. I know that some readers love books with lots of sex so those readers will enjoy The Crush. I would have preferred more plot so this book will not be high on my list of re-reads.

One scene really surprised me – Jack and Michael gave each other hand jobs in the movie theatre with Amy sitting next to Michael. This made her appear to be totally clueless and not very observant. On the surface she seemed bright enough but it took her a while to catch on to what her brother and her crush were up to, and then all hell broke loose because she thought Jack should have kept his hands off Michael, which I thought was ingenuous since Michael was gay and was never hers.

To summarize: I liked Michael’s character but I’m still on the fence about Jack and Amy who were playing juvenile games with each other in adulthood. The story would have been more enjoyable for me if the MCs had spent less time having sex and got to know each other better before declaring love everlasting. Conversely, the writing was good and it’s obvious that Elizabeth Lister has the potential to develop into a much better author. Towards the end the book improved marginally but not enough for me to recommend it, and if you want to read a better book by this author you should pick up Exposure if you haven’t read it



    • Hey Larissa
      Somehow Jack managed to annoy a few people but there are those readers who will probably “get” him. He just wasn’t to my taste in a MC, and if I don’t love the protag it’s hard for me to love the book.

      • That’s my problem too. Sometimes an MC doesn’t turn out the way you think, but you stick with him because you understand him. However sometimes you just don’t want too. There are too many good books out there to waste time on a book you don’t like. Do I make sense?

        • There are so many M/M books that I will never read 1/10th of them, so why should I waste my time with a protag that annoys the hell out of me. You make a great deal of sense Larissa.

  • I thought this was reasonably OK (though I did like Exposure better). I actually kind of dig the size queen stuff. Out of the hundreds of m/m books I’ve read, this was the first where they just whipped it out and measured. So, if nothing else, it is memorable for that.

    • I’m sorry Natalie, I just couldn’t like this book any more. WAY too much sex for what’s supposed to be a romance. Whipping out the tape measure reminded me of porn. 🙁 Yes, it was memorable but not in the way I wanted it to be. However, everyone tastes is different and I’m glad you enjoyed The Crush.

  • I read the extract for this and rarely have I disliked 2 characters so instantly as I did Amy and Jack.

    Your great review reinforces my decision to leave this alone. Thanks Wave.

    • I wish I could have liked this book more Raine but there was too much wrong with the characterizations. I love a well plotted story and this one was short on plot.

      Michael was the only shining star and I wish that Jack deserved him. 🙁

  • I was going to pick this up for the reasons you did, I loved Exposure. Thanks for the review as now I’ll probably wait.

    • Well Lasha if you want a book that’s almost three quarters sex you don’t have to look much further. Not only that but the characterizations didn’t work for me except for Michael.

  • I really really disliked this one, which was even more dissappointing because I loved Exposure so much. I thought that Jake’s not willing to tell Amy was a bizzarre artificial conflict, if that makes sense. I thought that it made no sense (not that I enjoyed her much as a character either). Yes, what you said actually, playing juvenile games with each other.

    And I had an impression that the only thing James and Michael did together was sex and sex and more sex. Oy.

    Thanks for the review Wave.

    • Like you, one of the reasons I wanted to read this book was because I enjoyed Exposure. This was really disappointing, and I thought initially it was just me but now you and Raine have the same reaction to it.

      You’re right on the sex. 😆 They must have great stamina.

      • HAHA, yes indeed great stamina. I wish there was more of a plot though. And shows you how much I disliked Jack’s character that I misspelled his name twice in one short paragraph – I called him James and Jake, but not Jack lol.

        • I think part of the problem is that Jack and Michael were mismatched. I like “opposites attract” themes but I couldn’t see how any HEA would work for them. Jack was a piece of work – I couldn’t find any likeable traits to make up for his characterization.


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