Title: Giving it a Name
Author: Elizabella Gold
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Buy Link Giving it a Name
Genre: M/M contemporary romance
Length: 166 pages
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
A Guest review by Jenre
Summary review: Two main characters who I couldn’t connect with, plus a jaw dropping (and not in a good way) ending made this a miss for me.
When his divorced father remarries, twenty-one-year-old Aaron Wood suddenly finds himself adjusting to living with a stepmom and younger sister. Then his smokin’ hot stepbrother moves in too. A recent college grad, Jordan seems adrift—but Aaron’s sure Jordan feels the same attraction toward Aaron as Aaron does toward him.
Aaron and Jordan begin with teasing, which turns to flirting, which leads to more. Jordan seems happy to fool around with him, but when Aaron insists they put a name to what they’re doing, Jordan pulls away: He’s not gay. He’s not bi. Why is Aaron being so pushy?
Aaron’s still in the closet, and he’s never had a real boyfriend. He knows they could be good together if Jordan could face the truth—but if he keeps pushing, he risks losing Jordan for good.
I picked this book because I’d read a really great short story from this author a while back and wanted to read more from her. I was also interested to see where the step-brother angle would go and how that conflict would impact on the romance. Unfortunately, several factors meant that I couldn’t connect well to this story or the characters.
The story opens with Aaron’s new step-mother and sister moving in with them after his Father has remarried. they are getting settled together when his step-brother, Jordan, arrives having finished College early and recently split up with his long-term girlfriend. Aaron gets the instant hots for Jordan but struggles with being in the closet to anyone but his closest friends, and feels unable to tell Jordan how he feels.
I knew I was going to struggle with this book from the start because the writing, especially in the internal dialogue of Aaron, was stilted. This meant that it took a little while to get into the head of Aaron, especially as he has a tendency to ramble about inconsequential things in his head. Another problem I had with Aaron is that he is supposed to be 21 and yet behaves like a 16 year old. When he and his friend Kenny get together it was like a scene out of Beavis and Butthead, and that pretty much set the tone for most of the book. Aaron develops this instant crush on Jordan and then behaves like a 13 year old girl trying to get his best friend to use his gaydar to decide whether Jordan is gay or not, even though Jordan has had a long term girlfriend and barely hints at the fact that he might be interested in Aaron. He then spends most of the first part of the book lusting after Jordan, and practically throwing himself at Jordan, which of course allows Jordan to manipulate and use Aaron.
Another aspect which didn’t work with Aaron was the way he viewed coming out of the closet. Aaron is out to his friends but in the closet to everyone else, but his reasons for staying in the closet were flimsy at best. He feels that his father will reject him, but his Dad seems very a accepting, liberal person, and he worries about being bashed but still hangs around with a gay best friend thus putting himself in a position where he could get involved in a violent incident through association anyway. It just didn’t seem realistic for me. If there had been pressing and serious reasons why he shouldn’t out himself, then I would have believed this part of the book more. Instead he whines on about being forced to remain in the closet whilst being completely paranoid that anyone will guess that he’s gay. This just reinforced my opinion that he’s immature for his age.
By the time I got into the middle of the book, I had started to get more into the swing of things. Aaron settled down a bit and wasn’t as annoying, and the story began to flow a bit better. Aaron’s relationship with Jordan proved to be an interesting dynamic. Basically Jordan’s a bastard to Aaron, and is obviously using him for companionship and hoping it will lead to sex. He blows so hot and cold that Aaron hasn’t a clue what to make of his behaviour. This confusion was shown well and there were even a couple of poignant scenes where Aaron tries to sort out his feelings for Jordan. This obviously meant that I didn’t like Jordan, he’s selfish and obnoxious, but I got the impression that I wasn’t supposed to like him so I was happy with that. The arrival of a rival to Jordan in the form of nice bloke, Chris, seemed to give a fair indication of where the story was heading and I was looking forward to a satisfying conclusion.
Unfortunately there was no satisfying conclusion. In fact the end was so out of left field that if I had been reading the book as a paperback, rather than my ebook reader, the book would have hit the wall. I ended the book feeling very disgruntled and that I had somehow been cheated out of a decent ending. Aaron ends up in a position where he’s open to being hurt or further manipulation and I couldn’t feel happy for him or the situation.
So, as you can probably tell, this book didn’t work for me. It gets a two star grade, rather than anything lower, because I spent time during the middle of the book warming to Aaron slightly and I wanted him to be happy. The wobbly beginning, Aaron’s immaturity and that ending all mean that I can’t recommend the book, which is a shame when I had such high hopes for this author.