The Straight Boyfriend (Belen’s Review)

the-straight-boyfriendTitle: The Straight Boyfriend (Loving You #3)
Author: Renae Kaye
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: November 21st 2016
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 220 pages
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Blurb:

Aaron Hall has never been able to remain faithful to a single woman, and for most of his life, he’s dated two women at once. Recently his girlfriend tracked him down and knocked on his door—and his live-in girlfriend answered. Now he has no girlfriend and a mortgage he can’t pay by himself.

Vinnie Rosello needs to change his life—get a better job, stop drinking all his money away, find himself a serious boyfriend… and move out of his parents’ house. Aaron needs help with his expenses, so they become housemates.

Even though Aaron harbors some misconceptions about gay men and Vinnie misses his large Italian family, both men find comfort in their friendship. It’s a good arrangement until everything between them changes

Vinnie falls in love with Aaron, and Aaron is shocked to realize he feels the same. There’s only one problem—he’s still straight. He’ll have to overcome his fear of labels in order to love the man who’s captured his heart.


If you completely ignore that the story goes specifically out of the way to pretend to acknowledge bisexuality while supporting the narrative that erases it and only look at this from a GFY kink story premise…it’s a fun, cute read with likable characters, low angst, lots of sweetness, and an absolutely wonderful HEA.

Told from both main character’s POV, The Straight Boyfriend is a friends-to-lovers story set in the same world as Loving Jay. Liam is Aaron’s best friend, so Liam and Jay appear quite often in the story, as well as, on a lighter scale, Kee and Tate from Don’t Twunk With My Heart.

Aaron Hall loves women and sex, it’s why he’s been a serial cheater his entire dating life – because no one woman has had a sex drive high enough to satisfy him so he looks elsewhere to help fill the gap. Unfortunately, it’s never with his current partner’s permission, which leads to him getting broken up with a lot. This last time it’s left him with an expensive mortgage and the need for a housemate.

Vinnie Rosello is one of nine kids who grew up in an unconventional household, but he’s realized that it’s time to get his life together and it comes in four parts.

I had a vague idea of a plan. There were four parts to the equation. Employment, living circumstances, financial savings, and boyfriend. I needed to find a new job—one with career prospects—move out of my father’s house, stop drinking my pay each weekend, and find a boyfriend.

So when Vinnie hears Aaron is looking for a housemate it seems like the perfect solution for them both. They get along well together, which can easily translate into living well together. What Vinnie doesn’t foresee is falling in love with Aaron.

Who is straight. Straight, straight, straight, straight.

I’m not gay. I don’t mind if you think I am. But just so we’re clear? I’m not gay.
I have no problem with being gay. My best friend, Liam, admitted he liked guys—and boy, it took him years to realize that—and I have no difficulty with it. However, just because I don’t have a problem with gay, that doesn’t mean that I am. It’s fine to be gay.
I mean, I respect LGBT people’s sexuality, so they can respect mine. And my sexuality is straight. 100 percent of the time.
Or maybe 99 percent.

im_straight

The running theme through the story is how Aaron is undeniably, indubitably, inarguably, incontestably, incontrovertibly, plainly…straight.

Regardless of the fact he lets Vinnie sleep in his bed almost nightly because Vinnie is unused to having a room to himself.

Regardless of how often Vinnie pressures coerces needles persuades Aaron into participating in sexual situations like hand jobs and blow jobs.

Regardless of Aaron falling just as hard in love with Vinnie, as Vinnie is with him.

Because Aaron is straight. He even looked up the Kinsey scale after his best friend Liam started dating his boyfriend, Jay, to confirm it.

Yes. I was such a good friend that I even researched what the Kinsey Scale was. Mr. Kinsey was a pretty progressive guy, for his time. He published most of his work before my parents were born, but his studies helped me understand my best friend, Liam. Until the previous year, I’d always thought Liam was like me—completely straight. What Kinsey called a zero.

So, you see? Aaron is straight. Totally. Except for the sexual and romantic parts of being in love with Vinnie.

The biggest problem was that it didn’t feel gay. When Vinnie was blowing me, or when we were rubbing together, it was just me and Vinnie. It wasn’t two guys. It wasn’t gay. It was just me and Vinnie. Like watching TV together was me and Vinnie. Taking turns in cooking and then cleaning up the kitchen together was me and Vinnie. Arguing about my obsession with my lawn was me and Vinnie.
It seemed like a natural extension of our platonic relationship.

But it’s okay, you see, because Vinnie is more femme and smaller than Aaron. So he can still feel manly and straight, even while being sexually active with Vinnie.

I reached down to cup Vinnie’s balls and dick. Despite the fact that I wasn’t gay and that Vinnie wouldn’t be winning any size championships with his dick, I enjoyed what he had. The women’s magazines had been spouting headlines like “Size doesn’t matter, it’s what he does with it” for years. But somehow men didn’t get the message. I was finally appreciating the smaller things in life.

ignore-it

Because, ultimately, labels don’t matter. That’s the prevailing theme through the story – labels don’t matter. Except where they label almost everything.

“Yeah,” I said. “That’s when it started. He’s not bothering with the girls at the moment. He’s taking a break.”
“So is he gay, then? Bi? Pan?” Shane asked.
I shook my head. “No. Definitely still straight.”

Especially with the “straight” label.

“I don’t have a label that fits, Vinnie. I’m not gay. If I could honesty say that I’m gay, or even bi, then it would be so much easier. But I can’t. I don’t know what I am. But I’m hot for you. I’m horny for you.”
“So you’re going to be gay for me?” he asked with a smile.

There was an opportunity here to be inclusive. To give voice to a very marginalized, often persecuted, group…and it wasn’t taken. Not only wasn’t it taken, but I felt like the story took every opportunity to shut bisexuality down as hard as it possibly could be at every mention. And that’s disheartening.

Like I said before, if you can completely ignore the bi-erasure there’s a lot of warmth and love in this book. The friendship between Liam and Aaron is very sweet, the interactions between Vinnie and Aaron are, for the most part, lovely, and it’s a fun, cute read with likable characters, low angst, lots of sweetness, and an absolutely wonderful HEA.

Loving You Series


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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of The Straight Boyfriend (Loving You #3) provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange of an honest review.

Author

I am an unapologetic book addict/lover. I’m happiest when reading and I spend most of my time with my Kindle, which is never far from my hand.
I love to be told a good story! I mostly read fiction: Romance, Erotica, Young Adult, New Adult, Paranormal (shifters? Yes, please!), a little BDSM when I’m in the mood, and I love a good ménage story. I DEFINITELY PREFER A HFN/HEA!

My biggest no-no’s are cheating, miscommunication / misunderstanding plots, unnecessary angst, and cliffhangers.

A sampling of my “Favorite M/M” stories:

Carry the Ocean The Half of Us Red Dirt Heart Adulting 101 Tied Up In Knots
Shelter the Sea Manties in a Twist David, Renewed Ethan who Loved Carter Perfect Imperfections
Wolfsong Fight the Tide How to Walk Like A Man The Lightning-Struck Heart Forging the Future

3 comments

  • Great review, Belen. Although The Shearing Gun and You Are The Reason are two of my favorite books, I have stopped reading this author,

    Reply
  • You know, with all the controversy surrounding this book, I was wondering if anyone on our team would review it. Thanks, Belen. Doesn’t seem like my cuppa. The quotes alone, yikes.

    Reply
    • Even thought the author wrote one of my favorite books of all time, The Shearing Gun, I have decided not to read this one either. I’m not comfortable with the blurb. Belen, your review is wonderful. I think it will help readers make a decision on reading this or not. Which is really why we are all here! 🙂

      Reply

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