Author: S.J.D. Peterson
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: novella/37.5K words/180 PDF pages
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Review Summary: I liked the characters some of the time but thought they were frustrating because they constantly questioned their self worth.
The moment when the world tilts on its axis, completely changing everything. The instant when suddenly everything just falls into place. The second when a heart shatters into a million tiny pieces, only to settle back into place, complete for the first time. When an all-encompassing light surrounds a soul, touching it so deeply a permanent imprint is left behind. The first time true love is felt.
For Brycen Anderson, it didn’t happen as it does on TV or on the Hollywood screen. There was no fancy movie set or a multi-million dollar budget. No director taking control. No rehearsals, costumes or media fanfare. It was…
A passing glance…
A casual touch…
Brycen was 25 years old and John was 28. They had both been disappointed by their lovers so their affair started without any expectations of forever. Brycen’s last boyfriend had dumped him after he had supported him financially for some time in addition to being the little homemaker while Elijah figured out what he wanted to do when he grew up, or got his singing career going, whichever came first. He moved out one day leaving a note which said basically that things weren’t working for him.
John had no boyfriend since the last one left him because he felt that John was beneath him. John was always self conscious that he never got a college degree and Jacob made him feel that he was ignorant, even though he had a motorcycle custom paint business. He was so insecure about his lack of a formal education that he worried constantly the shop wouldn’t be a success and he would have nothing to fall back on.
Dance clubs were not John’s thing but he let his friend Luke drag him out one evening to Jester’s, a local club rather than stay at home watching a game on television. The same evening Brycen’s friends Nat and Jen persuaded him to go out with them and have some fun at Jester’s. He and Brycen bumped into each other, literally, when Brycen spilled his drink all over John who wasn’t having fun anyway so decided to call it a night.
A few days later they met unexpectedly at Nat’s coffee bar, and after Brycen apologized again they hit it off and found out that they had a lot in common. They went out on a date and things were going really well until John got a call from Luke that someone had tried to break into his shop. He promised Brycen that he would return as soon as he was finished with the Police, but he didn’t. Without finding out why, Brycen believed that he was being dumped again – for him love meant hurt and betrayal. This pattern continued throughout the book. Every time they made a step forward, one or both of them would remember past slights from their previous boyfriend and make the other one pay for it. It got so bad I felt like slapping them because their attitude overshadowed the budding relationship.
Have you read a book where you were constantly frustrated because it seemed that the MCs were too complicated for their own good? The story is called Simple and the blurb was intriguing. I really wanted to read a simple romance with a bit of complexity to make it interesting, but Simple was anything but. Every time John and Brycen seemed to have a chance at happiness all of their self doubt from their previous relationships crept in, to the point where I felt like abandoning the story altogether. I know that characters have to work for their HEA, but there are many ways to do so without making them out to be so incredibly indecisive and angst ridden that the reader wants to pull her/his hair out. To make matters worse, the plot got lost in all the make-up sex that became predictable and boring.
Brycen was the typical doormat for Elijah, always apologising to him and rationalizing when he stood him up countless times, until he was dumped. Now he was judging John by Elijah and not giving him or their relationship a chance. John also suffered from self doubt because he was never good enough for his ex. He hated dating because he didn’t know how to make normal conversation like most people so he used sex as a substitute for his feelings of inadequacy. These two guys seriously needed a therapist.
One of the best characters in the book was Brycen’s nosy friend Nat whose cheery presence made me continue reading so it wasn’t a complete loss.
This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I’m not sure I want to try another one if this book is indicative of her regular fare. However if you love lots and lots of angst and indecisiveness on the part of your MCs then you will enjoy Simple.