Living Out Loud (NeRdyWYRM’s Review)

Title: Living Out Loud
Author: Christina Lee and Nyrae Dawn
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: September 8, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count:
Reviewed by:
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Ben Emerson has lived by his minister father’s rules most of his life. Born into an ultra-conservative church community, he’s finally brave enough to break free and move to San Francisco. Distancing himself certainly helps create a new mindset, but living as an openly gay man takes some getting used to. When he reaches out to Xavier, a childhood friend who lives in the city, Ben isn’t sure how he’ll respond given their thorny history. Ben hopes the familiar connection will help him right some wrongs as well as provide the solace he’s been craving.

Xavier Ramos is who he is, and he doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks. Whether it’s eyeliner, nail polish, tattoos or his love of hooking up, he uses his body as a form of self-expression but doesn’t let anyone get too close. When Ben reenters his life, Xavier helps him experience the city and feel comfortable in his own skin. Seeing the world through Ben’s eyes, he begins to wonder if he’s also not living as freely as he thought.

When Xavier challenges Ben’s beliefs about sex, it becomes explosive—for both of them. Xavier breaks apart Ben’s sheltered world and shows him what it’s like to live out loud. The more time they spend together, the more Xavier begins to long for Ben in a different way—one that both surprises and scares him. But real life doesn’t fade into the background, so when Ben’s past comes knocking, old habits are hard to break. Testing the foundation of their deepening connection will take a trust that will either bind them…or tear them apart.

Holy Hotness!

This was a story, for one of the MCs, about self-discovery and sexual discovery. Ben escaped his fanatically religious family for the second time and moved to San Francisco where he looked up his ‘living out loud’ gay childhood best friend—and first kiss—Xavier. And. It. Was. ON!

From nude beaches to gay bars, Muir woods to small-town USA, Ben learned about life, and eventually love, with Xavier, who is out and proud but has his own baggage. Friends-with-benefits gradually turned into something more, though I get the feeling they were both in that head space long before they actually realized it.

This book was well-written, the heat factor was smokin’, and the relationship-development was sensible and well done. The conflicts were real and possible in real life. I will say that I want to start a crusade to put an end to anything resembling conversion therapy. Ben’s parents should be in jail. That shit is just wrong.

Characters from prior titles by these authors also made cameo appearances, so if you liked Toby and Levi, Dae and Ezra, etc. you get to see them again. I can already hear the Negative Nellies saying this book had too much sex and not enough story. On the face of it, I can agree. I had a couple, “Hmm … this is kinda porn-y,” moments myself. HOWEVER, the book began with Ben asking Xavier to help him get past his sexual hangups. There were things he wanted to do and explore without shame derailing everything and he trusted Xavier to show him. Sooo.

The sex was germane to the plot, and while plentiful, the characters had enough history and enough of a connection already that I don’t feel it took too much away from the romance. I’m not overly invested in Ben-ier? Xavi-en? after reading this though, so while I believed in the couple on-page, I think the sex might have robbed readers of falling in love with these guys. I needed more feels.

I wasn’t blown away by this title, but it was one of the best books I’ve read this week. It was a solid 4-star read, simply because I enjoyed it, I liked the characters, and the plot was believable. Would I read it again? Probably not. Would I read a sequel with these characters in it? Maybe. Am I going to backtrack and read about the other couples? Well, I already read Touch the Sky and Chase the Sun, so maybe I’ll go back for Free Fall #3, who knows? What’s important here is: would I recommend Living Out Loud? The answer to that is, absolutely YES!

Cross-posted at: Goodreads. Read other Goodreads reviews by NeRdyWYRM here.

Buy Link Amazon Global Author Link GoodReads More Author Reviews

Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of Living Out Loud provided by Christina Lee and Nyrae Dawn in exchange of an honest review.


I am a life-long reader and an avid learner. I remember reading books without pictures when I was about four, and raided every title on my parents’ full and intimidating book shelves—well, the ones they would let me read, anyway—from then on. Characters written by authors like Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Raymond E. Feist, Mercedes Lackey, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, and Anne McCaffrey were my childhood playmates.

Back then, I went nowhere unless I had a book in my hand. While the rest of my generation was shifting from cassettes to CDs and from Atari to Nintendo, Sega, and Playstation, I spent my allowance on Myth & Magic pewter figurines and on books at the Stars and Stripes bookstore. These days I don’t have a book in my hand anymore, at least not the printed variety. Instead, it’s any device with a Kindle app.

I stubbornly held on to the printed page until a military move weighed my book collection in at over a ton. Oops. Sorry-not-sorry, but I did have to exercise some pragmatism in that area, unfortunately. Now I only buy hardbacks from my favorite authors, the classics, or long-running series. Otherwise, I’ve surrendered to the times and our weight allowance and have gone all digital.

I stay strictly on the fiction side of the fence because non-fiction is generally too dry to hold my interest. I was always a scholar, and so have read enough textbook-like titles and required reading for school and college to last me a lifetime, thank you very much. So, non-fiction? No, thanks. However, barring non-fiction and biographies (ewww people), there’s not much out there I won’t read.

I have loved romance novels since I was prepubescent. Something about historicals and anything with horses, i.e., Native American inspired romances just did it for me. My grandmother was appalled that my parents let me read that ‘smut’ as she called it. I’d already justified my position on being allowed to read those controversial titles with a logical argument that there were a lot of historical facts in those books that couldn’t be learned in the classroom alone. And to this day, I maintain that stance. I have learned more from books, specifically romance and fantasy novels, than I ever did in a classroom.


My dad always said I was too smart for my own good. Looking back, he was probably right! I could logically talk my way into and out of just about anything. It’s served me well, but caused me no end of problems, too. That said, despite my love for the romance genre in general and the m/m romance genre in particular, there is little chance that a decent book of any kind will fail to catch my interest, and there’s nothing at all I’m unwilling to learn. So bring it on. I hope you enjoy my reviews.

Please comment! We'd love to hear from you.