Title: After the Romance Novel (Before … and After #1)
Author: Susan Laine
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: February 22, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 65
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Romance novels always end with a happy ever after. Right?
Evan and Adam are best friends, but they don’t know everything about each other. For one thing, Adam doesn’t know Evan writes and publishes gay romance novels until he discovers one while snooping on Evan’s laptop.
This revelation changes their relationship in ways neither could’ve imagined. Adam’s reaction to reading Evan’s stories is not what he expected, nor is the new way he’s looking at his lifelong pal. After all, Adam is straight, or so he’s always thought, and that is what Evan believes about Adam as well.
When Evan admits he might be bisexual, Adam suggests he try dating girls to find out for sure, but when Evan follows his advice, Adam is caught off guard by his feelings of jealousy. And when the date proves Evan isn’t bisexual, but gay, Evan’s request that Adam find him a guy might be the last straw.
How can Adam admit he wants that guy to be him? His epiphany will either end their relationship—or change it into something wonderful in their very own friends-to-lovers romance.
While only 65 pages, this novella does an admirable job of portraying young / first love, in all its glory and just plain awfulness and angst. Adam and Evan have been friends forever, but when Adam learns that Evan has been publishing M/M romance novels and identifies as gay, he’s really stunned. It’s a slow difficult process for Adam, but he finds himself questioning his own sexuality:
“No! I’m not fucking gay! I’m not even bi or pan, or whatever else is out there. I’m just… confused. Yeah, that’s it. I’m just confused. That’s all. Simple as that.”
Only it wasn’t simple in the slightest. Adam’s head hurt from all the weirdness, denial, and excuses. When the truth was his world had irrevocably changed.
Laine captures that feeling of heartbreak when you put your heart out there and it’s not accepted, or the gesture is misunderstood.
“What, Evan? What? Why can’t you trust me? I mean, why can’t you believe me, just this once? Why can’t you… love me? Even just a little? Am I that unlovable?”
And the last chapter’s sex scene really shows the chemistry and the possibilities this relationship holds as it moves from best friends to real love with trust, honesty and acceptance. A solid 4 stars for After the Romance Novel.