Title: Knobs
Author: Scotty Cade
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: April 22, 2016
Genre(s): Romance, Contemporary
Page Count:  200
Reviewed by: PrinCkhera
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.17 stars out of 5

Angus Conrad (Gus) McRae is a privileged Charlestonian following family tradition and attending the Citadel, harboring big dreams of a military career. With the infamous Hell Week behind him, he quickly realizes being a Knob (a freshman cadet) is just as tough—especially for a man like Gus who must keep his sexuality a secret. Then a sudden dorm reassignment lands him with a roommate in the form of one of the football team’s top players—working-class jock Stewart Adam (Sam) Morley—and life gets increasingly complicated.

Gus can’t imagine a man like Sam as gay, yet there’s something between them—exchanged glances, the occasional innuendo. Sexual tensions rise, leaving them more than friends but less than lovers. Gus and Sam know there’s too much to lose and they must keep their attraction hidden. If they fail, they risk destroying their hopes and dreams for a prosperous future in a military world that’s not yet ready to accommodate masculine gay men.

This is a HFN and I want more.

I love the pacing of this. The first 60 pages they don’t do more than look into each others’ eyes twice before they actually talk.  But in that time we actually get to know Sam and Gus. Who they are, why they’re there, what makes them tick and what they’re afraid of. Their hopes and dreams.

What I like when reading books is my characters getting to know one another. Insta-love, is very hard to make believable and more often than not quite ridiculously manufactured. Instant attraction on the other hand is understandable. The hesitancy to start something in a school with the fear that if you get found you will get kicked out of school for it. Daunting.

There’s the hesitancy present that what you’re feeling is reciprocated or not and also the worry that your future is something you should not willingly risk for just a fling.

This is so important. At least, I feel it is.

My friend recently told me that apparently I read a lot of “flimsy” books that don’t have much substance.  I think she’s right. Which is why from now on I want to try and see if I can find something to take with me from the books I read, except just the enjoyment of a good book that I liked.

For Knobs it would be to keep your priorities straight, well figuratively speaking of course. Both of them have dreams they want to pursue which is why they joined the rigorous school that first takes you apart to build you up again. They are willing to work for their future and endure which is why they go through all the crap that their seniors put the Knobs through.

In the beginning, you see one of the Knobs leave, Greg. This is basically taking out the weak, the undecided and it works.  It sucks but those that just aren’t motivated or are there for the wrong reasons wouldn’t remain if it means having to put up with such abuse. It also means growing a pair. Whether it’s remaining there or leaving. Both equally difficult. You quit and some might think you’re basically saying I don’t have it in me but you would have come to the realization that This isn’t for me. You stay and you’re thinking I will get through this one way or another. Leaving means having to face those that sent you as a “failure” but one that now knows what they can and can’t handle, and what they’re willing to endure for reasons not their own. It forces you to bring things into perspective. Military school, duh!

Now, more towards the plot:

Character wise I quite liked both Sam and Gus.

He knew he’s have to work harder than most to prove he belonged here. So was it too much to ask that he be given a boring, ugly, and completely unappealing roommate?

At that particular time I just thought: Awww, poor Sam. Having to keep it in his pants because his roommate’s too hot. But then he says stuff like this:

What reason will I give my Academic Officer? … Gus is a living Adonis, and since I’ll be jerking off to him every fifteen minutes, I’ll be so exhausted I won’t be able to play football and therefore won’t be able to fulfil my scholarship.

When they finally got together, Sam being the more experienced one, was willing to take it slow so that was a plus for him, because he was a complete jerk at first.  I get why, you don’t want to risk your future but there were better ways to go about it and he makes up for it… Well, he tries. Though, Gus shows what he’s made of when he doesn’t go down. Stands up for himself – love it.

I loved the time the author took to draw us into the story, as well as its two MCS

The choice for showing us both Sam and Gus’s POV was also good because it added so much to the story. Otherwise I’m pretty sure I’d be sort of confused on what exactly was going on.

There was also this one scene where Gus does this striptease and all I could think was Didn’t think he had it in him. Surprising me, making the MCs surprise me like that- Love it.

Gus’s Family. Wow. It was such a stereotype.

The society mom, the “my way or the high way” dad and the sweet sister. But I felt proud of Gus. The guy has a dream, a clear goal he wants to work for and he goes for it regardless of his parents’ support or not. To have something like that is admirable and to bide your time is wise. Still need them to pay for your education before they disown you. Using your brain like that, is not done enough in MM books I think. Usually the MC sees a problem and there is only one way. Life isn’t like that and Gus didn’t treat it as though it was.

It did sometimes feel as though he was getting too many lucky breaks. For example:

The girl he’d been using as his beard (when he only thought he was gay) confesses to him in tears she’s pretty sure she’s gay. In one swoop, that responsibility and years of guilt went bye bye just like that? He got lucky. Then the first guy he’s attracted to, becomes his roommate, is gay and also into you promptly becoming your first everything? Wow. Okay. When you look at it like that – unrealistic. Did I care a lot? Not really.

Once they got together though… It kind of went downhill.

I don’t know why or I know exactly why. I liked reading this book, a lot. But at the last 20 pages my interest flagged so badly, it was like it jumped ship or something.

I started noticing stuff. Like the over usage of “Sam” and “Gus”. Since the author had this in the last 20 pages so much I wondered whether it was like that throughout the book and whether I was blind or just so into the book I didn’t notice.

The sad thing is that it was during their sex scene. I kept frowning because it was so distracting. And all of a sudden the way their dialogue flowed between them made me go “Huh? Seriously?”. All that I liked started falling apart in front of my eyes. Not a nice feeling.

It was great to hold you, but God that was surely a test of will.

Gus didn’t close his eyes for fear this encounter was all a dream. And if it was a dream, it would become a nightmare quickly if he woke up before he saw it to and end.

Gus looked at Sam and smiles. Sam was literally weak in the knees at how handsome Gus looked, but he did his best to mask his awe and admiration as Gus began to speak.

This is how it started. But this was the worst:

When Sam ran his hands over Gus‘s chest, Gus shivered in anticipation. Sam brushed over his nipples with his thumbs, and Gus closed his eyes at the odd but wonderful sensation.

It goes on like that. Just… no.

Honestly, it was kind of like I was riding a high for the first 80%, then after they got together and the sex came up it went down fast. Seriously fast. Or, was it that after they were together the author no longer felt the need to choose his words? I don’t know what happened, but it ruined the buzz. The dialogue, the Sam/Gus thing and just the overall Let’s just get this over with feeling I got. *sigh*

So, if the author could just fix the last few pages, we’re all good.

And regardless of that particular WHY??? I want more. This book was written in such a way that there has to be another one, right? Right?

I loved the time the author took to draw us into the story, as well as its two MCS and I feel emotionally invested in their journey of getting through the Citadel and graduating in one piece.

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of Knobs provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange of an honest review.

First 80% I was in love, then me and this book had a "What are we doing here? How did it come to this? Wish you hadn't changed. Wish I hadn't grown." period until the very end where we ended things on a somewhat tentatively positive note.

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