Sibling Rivals

Title: Sibling Rivals
Author: Summer Devon
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Publisher: Self Published
Buy link: (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M contemporary
Length: Novella
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

A guest review by Leslie S

Review summary: Nice and undemanding but not particularly memorable

Meeting the family shouldn’t be this complicated.

As the designated slacker of the family, Peter Stevens was accustomed to being eclipsed by his “perfect” older brother, Mark. But when Mark came out to their parents one Christmas vacation, it was his turn to be the black sheep.

Even more surreal was Peter’s brief encounter with his brother’s boyfriend, Colin. The unmistakable sparks between them shook the foundations of his confirmed heterosexuality. Years later, when they meet again as graduate student and professor, that bone-deep attraction is still there.

Thanks to the emotional scars Mark left behind, Colin has had his fill of Stevens men. Having Peter at his university shouldn’t be a problem though, as he knows the younger man is straight. But when Colin realizes the electricity sizzles both ways, he can’t resist indulging in a passionate affair.

Yet some old flames stubbornly refuse to die. This time, Peter refuses to step aside—and when an emergency brings the family together again, Colin must decide if it’s worth the risk to trust another Stevens brother with his heart.

It’s Christmas, and nineteen-year-old Peter Stevens is being scolded by his parents for his latest misdemeanour when his perfect older brother Mark comes home, bringing his English college friend Colin with him. Mark wants to talk to his family. Pete knows what’s coming next, but when Mark outs himself and names Colin as his boyfriend, Mr and Mrs Stevens are less than supportive.

Due to the bad weather, Colin is forced to stay overnight – sleeping on the floor in Pete’s room. Pete, who’s always been bi-curious, finds Colin sweet and interesting. By next morning, Colin and Mark have left.

Over the next couple of years, Mark cuts himself off from his homophobic parents. He dumps Colin, drops his perfect son act, and goes a little crazy as he tries to make up for what he sees as lost time.

Meanwhile Pete keeps in touch with Colin with the occasional friendly email. Colin gets a teaching job at a college in Boston, but as someone who believes strongly in monogamy he doesn’t rush into a new relationship and broods a little over the way Mark treated him. Then Pete, who’s about to start a degree at another school in Boston, emails to ask if he can crash at Colin’s place for a while. Colin agrees, but has to face his ex again when Mark helps his brother move in.

Mark wants Colin back. Pete, concerned about the man he considers his friend, warns Colin that Mark is currently seeing someone else. But Colin soon realises that the Mark he carried a torch for all this time has disappeared. Instead of being happy to have the chance to reconnect, he finds Mark annoying and obnoxious. Pete, on the other hand – he’s different. Not just the sweet kid he exchanged emails with, but grown up and buff and surprisingly sexy.

Except Pete is straight – isn’t he?

Sibling Rivals was a nice and undemanding read. I like Summer Devon’s work precisely because she’s a competent author who writes well and you know exactly what you’re getting when you pick up one of her books. Having said that, I wish there’d been something a *bit* deeper in this one, because although I enjoyed reading it, I actually couldn’t remember anything about it the next day except for the one niggle I had!

Pete was refreshingly straightforward. I really liked the no-nonsense view he had of life, and it was nice to read a story that, at its heart, is about coming out and being accepted, that was angst-free. Possibly that’s where the story fell down in the memorability stakes, because although there *was* angst with Mr and Mrs Stevens rejecting Mark, Pete was an observer, and something of a passive one because of his easygoing personality.

Colin I liked less. He was a little neurotic at times, but I did enjoy the push-pull of his attraction to Pete and how he tried to deny it. Once he and Pete begin their relationship, there’s more drama when Mark finds out – but again Pete’s steady personality tempers the capacity for angst. I almost felt that Pete and Colin were too well-suited, too ordinary – not that there’s anything wrong with ordinary, but it makes for a slightly pedestrian read. In a way I wish we’d had Mark’s POV in the story because he’s the character who had the biggest personality shift, and although he came across as a bit of an arse, it’d have been more interesting to see his take on Pete and Colin’s relationship and also I’d like to have seen if Mark could find and redeem himself.

So I’m left with mixed feelings. I enjoyed reading it, it’s well written and flows smoothly, but for me it wasn’t one of Ms Devon’s more memorable works.

This book is available for pre-order

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