Author: Scotty Cade
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: April 22, 2016
Page Count: 200
Reviewed by: Vallie
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 1.5 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.
I am a huge fan of military themed books –and movies, for that matter. I have a special weakness for books and/or movies that deal with boot camp/training. There is something that gets me going about the process. And so, I was looking forward to reading this book, especially because I had never before read anything about cadets or the Citadel. Plus, the cover is gorgeous. Sadly, I was disappointed.
Why I did not enjoy reading this:
I can appreciate a well-researched book and this was very obviously well researched. As I said, I knew nothing about the Citadel but the first 30% provided very in depth information about its history, traditions, and operations. The physical descriptions of the campus were super detailed as well. My complaint is that it felt as if I was reading a brochure advertising the citadel. The descriptions did not blend into the story. Rather, the descriptions became the story. And as much as I liked reading about Hell Week and everything Sam and Gus went through (separately) during it, it got boring.
Sam was a very obnoxious character and I could not sympathise with him one single bit. He was ignorant and discriminatory, often making assumptions without having or being interested in getting the facts. He judged people based on stereotypes and later apologised when he was called out on it. What’s worse, he did it again later. Basically, he’d misinterpret people’s intentions and circumstances and act like an @$$hole because of it.
Gus was a more likeable character and I thought he had a more level head on his shoulders. He was the voice of reason in many of the arguments between them. However, he too threw tantrums and acted like a spoilt brat half the time –mainly when it came to his family. Yes, his family were pretty awful. Yes, he could not relate to them. But then, knowing all of that, he would blow up in anger and storm off in the middle of a conversation or a meal.
I found the writing to be quite dry and repetitive. The plot was dominated by what the characters did. It was all telling instead of showing and it became quite monotonous. I could see the intention –awkwardness and tension build-up before the attraction leads to something. But it was not executed well. They went from Sam disliking Gus, to Gus obsessing over why Sam dislikes him (like there was some unspoken requirement that they needed to be friends), to revealing their attraction to each other, to every conversation being about how they might get caught and how much they want each other. The romance fell completely flat for me. As for the sex scene, it came really late and was not inspiring.
Sam’s attitude towards women was very offensive and I found it very difficult to keep reading the book. Sam was not directly rude towards a female character but his inner monologue painted a nasty picture. A few examples:
”Thanks to you I didn’t have to be alone,” Sam replied coquettishly. Jesus, Sam! Stop this mushy talk. You sound like a girl.”
”Just get through the night, Sam. No! Not just the night. You’ve got to get through the semester. Gus is apparently not gay. Man up and stop crushing like a silly schoolgirl.”
Of course, it should be noted that Sam had all but painted his own mother as a saint, so I guess it’s not all women that he thinks about in a negative way. But still. It’s been said over and over. It doesn’t do the book or the story any favours when manly men act like ”girls.” It’s gotten old already, come on.
The ending was a HFN. If there is a sequel, I don’t think I will read it. All in all, this was a miss.