Title: Hard Candy
Author: Amy Jo Cousins
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: March 22, 2016
Page Count: 133
Reviewed by: Vallie
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
How to get over someone? Get under someone else—as soon as possible.
Vincent Lim always assumed his best friend (and occasional hookup) Austin would be waiting for him—that eventually they’d end up together. But now that Austin’s in love with another man, Vinnie is at a loss.
After the world’s most awkward one-night stand with a dance major, Vinnie knows the drill. Minimize the embarrassment by pretending they’ve never met. Yet Bryan’s vibrant spirit and calm center lure Vinnie like a shelter from an emotional storm.
But Vinnie’s thrown off his game by the rest of Bryan’s total package. Vinnie’s a rowing jock with a single-minded focus on living up to his parents’ academic and social expectations. Bryan might as well be outfitted with glittery butterfly wings—with plenty of pride to match. Vinnie’s haphazard attention to a lover won’t cut it this time.
Physically, they can match each other stroke for booty pop. But for the lovers to meet on common ground, they’ll have to find a way to get moving in the same direction.
Warning: Contains one uptight rower, a dancer who can rock a skirt like nobody’s business, yoga lessons, and the benefits of being very bendy.
This book’s events occur right after Love Me Like a Rock ended. Vinnie is sort of reeling from the realisation that there will be no more Austin in a romantic way –Vinnie didn’t care much about the sexual parts of their relationship anyway. So Vinnie wakes up from the hangover from hell in a stranger’s dorm room. The stranger is funny and sarcastic, very generous with the endearments, and very kind to Vinnie. Bryan is also a student at Carlisle, a dancer, and yoga practitioner extraordinaire. And Vinnie is fascinated. Not just because Bryan is effeminate and flaunts it with pride, but because Vinnie didn’t much care for sexascapades and finds himself all of a sudden craving Bryan.
I have to say some themes from Love Me Like a Rock felt a bit repetitive in this book:The fact that Bryan and Vinnie’s interactions took place mainly in Bryan’ dorm room; the fixation on da sex; the fact that they start with a ”we’re only hooking up” attitude which then developed into more. However, the sex scenes are a lot more sensual and sweet. Bryan and Vinnie actually do a lot more relationship stuff together than Sean and Austin did at the beginning of Love Me Like a Rock. I especially loved Vinnie’s introduction to yoga and the fact that he didn’t do it to win points with Bryan but actually embraced it and sought it out as a relaxation strategy himself. I loved how unapologetic Bryan was and that Vinnie did not try to change him one single bit. My complaint is that Vinnie really came off as an @$$hole in Love Me Like a Rock whereas here it was significantly toned down. It felt as if the story did not stay true to the character. If Vinnie was like this in the beginning and mellowed out with Bryan, I would have bought it. But he didn’t come off like that at all –just slightly socially awkward and neurotic.
Nevertheless, I have to say I enjoyed Bryan and Vinnie’s story a lot more than I did Sean and Austin’s. There was more sweetness about it all and I caught myself smiling while reading several times –always a good sign! The little drama towards the end –again, a bit formulaic- wasn’t noteworthy and held the story back somewhat in my opinion. Yes, homophobia obviously very much exists but the way it was portrayed and resolved here was a little OTT.