Title: The Backup Boyfriend (The Boyfriend Chronicles – Book 1)
Author: River Jaymes
Cover Artist: The Killion Group
Publisher: self published
Amazon: Buy Link The Backup Boyfriend (The Boyfriend Chronicles)
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel/69K words/225 pages
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5
Review Summary: A heartwarming, moving story with two MCs who overcame personal demons and hangups to fall in love and stay together.
Professionally, Dr. Alec Johnson has almost reached his goals. As this year’s recipient of a humanitarian award with his ex, Dr. Tyler Hall, Alec’s work with the homeless is about to be recognized. Unfortunately, his personal life sucks because now he has to attend several events alongside Tyler—with his ex’s new boyfriend in tow. In an attempt to lift his mood and break out of his rut, Alec purchases a motorcycle he has no idea how to start.
Dylan Booth doesn’t have time for Dr. Clueless and his fickle 1964 Harley, but the cocky mechanic can’t say no to the request for help. Having spent his teen years on the streets, and losing his best friend to HIV, Dylan decides teaching the do-gooder how to ride is the least he can do. But watching Alec flounder in his ex’s company throws Dylan into protector mode, and the confirmed hetero introduces himself as Alec’s new boyfriend.
The ex suspects Dylan is lying.
Alec claims Dylan’s plan is insane.
And Dylan’s not sure he can fake being gay.
But he’s a master bullshitter, and the phony PDA soon turns ultra-hot. Alec can’t afford to get attached, and Dylan’s learned everyone eventually leaves. Unfortunately, playing the backup boyfriend is starting to feel way too real…
If you like books with a wounded hero who refuses to accept his bisexuality even though he is having mind blowing sex with a man and loving it, and his partner in crime who grows incredibly throughout the book from a serious geek who knew nothing about love although he thought he did but really just wanted to be part of a couple, you will adore this book. The Backup Boyfriend is so much more than a romance – the characters are wonderfully crafted and flawed, the dialogue is fresh and crisp, the prose is funny and sometimes poignant with so much depth and warmth that I couldn’t put this book down when it ended and started reading it again immediately after as I didn’t want to leave the characters.
Alec Johnson and Tyler Hall are both doctors who worked and lived together until Tyler suddenly dumped Alec 2 years into their relationship just as he was planning a wedding after Prop 8 in California was overturned. Getting married was not in Tyler’s plans; he found their life together and the marriage plans suffocating. Less than 2 months later he’s sporting a new boyfriend, which devastated Alec who still believes he loves Tyler.
Alec was so upset at the breakup he decided to buy an old Harley-Davidson motorbike on a whim, against the advice of an expert, and he got into trouble immediately when it refused to start and he had to visit said expert and garage owner, Dylan Booth, to ask for help as he knew nothing about bikes other than theory. He was a walking encyclopedia and if you love motorcycles his research and statistics will astound and amaze.you. 😀 Because he felt sorry for him and also he owed their mutual close friend Noah who had referred Alec to him, Dylan offered to teach him about the bike. One afternoon when Dylan was at Alec’s place Tyler showed up to move the rest of his stuff, accompanied by his new boyfriend. Alec was visibly upset and Dylan felt surprisingly protective, even though they didn’t know each other well. Dylan hated how devastated Alec looked so he pretended he was his new boyfriend and that they were having wild, kick-ass sex, which got them in a whole lot of trouble as events moved faster than they anticipated.
Dylan’s background was tough as he had lived on the streets for years since he was fifteen because of an abusive father who was also a drunk and he had to survive the same way most homeless teens did, until he met Rick Adams another teen who also lived on the streets. They became best friends and this is when his protective instincts kicked in as Rick was very vulnerable and needed him in order to survive. There was no romance between them, although it was obvious that Dylan felt more for Rick than friendship, but he denied it because then he would have had to admit that he wasn’t entirely straight. Long story short, despite his efforts Rick died of HIV five years ago and every year since then Dylan held a fundraiser in his memory.
Alec was emotionally fragile and although his relationship with Tyler hadn’t been exciting it was comfortable, but he really wanted to be with someone who loved him as much as he loved them. I got the feeling that his mother was more into the marriage than he was, because although she accepted the fact that he was gay it was obvious she wanted him to have the white picket fence and 2.5 children which would signify to her that he was “normal” – her version of the perfect gay male and therefore more “acceptable”. Now he no longer wanted to just settle for someone, despite his mother trying to get him to make up with Tyler. He knew he deserved better but was Dylan the man to give him what he wanted?
Dylan was a lot more complicated than Alec and I really “got” him when I saw how different his apartment was (sparse, hardly lived in, with “start-up” second hand furniture) compared to his garage where he obviously poured out his heart and soul. He had no idea how to live in an apartment – all he knew was living on the streets. His mother had abandoned him to a father who was a drunk and a bully and he lived by the philosophy that everyone leaves and “gone is gone;” even Rick had left him and in the process left a huge hole in his heart. He didn’t over-think anything. He only did one night stands, didn’t believe in PDAs, was brash, bold and cocky but he wanted Alec badly and the fact that he was sleeping with a man for more than a couple nights in a row didn’t seem to bother him. He didn’t know the meaning of the word “commitment” but his rough edges appealed to Alec. Could they move beyond the sex, these two men, one from a privileged background with the best education and countless letters after his name, and the street tough, smart-ass who had so many hangups and refused to show his vulnerable side? Dylan didn’t believe in labels so he wasn’t going to examine his sexuality too closely because then he might have to admit he was bi. Opening up to Alec was the toughest thing he had ever done but I wondered how their relationship could ever be more than something fleeting and an experiment for Dylan.
These characters were intricately drawn, cleverly layered, and just when I thought I knew them, a new and unexpected aspect of their personalities would emerge making them even more nuanced. I really love River James’s writing and her characters, even Tyler who turned out not to be the callous jerk I initially believed he was. But Alec surprised me when he showed his mettle and took charge of bad boy Dylan in a Da Vinci inspired filthy sex scene in the garage that was so hot the pages were probably on fire. Alec showed Dylan who was “the man” and that scene blew my socks off because the sex was explosive and mind blowing, and even if Dylan didn’t want to have feelings for Alec he was falling off a cliff into no man’s land while Alec was screwing with his mind. This scene has to be experienced to be believed and I’ll never think of axle grease the same way again. 😀
I thought that the author wrote a thoughtful, creative story with pathos and two MCs who couldn’t have been more different and complex. The story was packed with emotion but wasn’t draining as there was a lot of humour throughout, with Noah providing some of it but Alec and Dylan were no slouches.
The MCs and all of the supporting characters were three dimensional and I really liked Noah, despite his personality which made me want to slap him, 🙂 because he was Dylan’s and Alex’s friend and conscience.
If you like complex stories that make you feel the heroes’ hurt, love and rage, this book should be on your “to buy” list. The Backup Boyfriend will be on my Top Ten Books this year – it’s that good.