Ben & Gavin (NeRdyWYRM’s Review)


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Title: Ben & Gavin
Author: J.H. Knight
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: October 18, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 201 pages
Reviewed by: NeRdyWYRM
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Blurb:

For Ben Cartwright, having a twenty-one-year-old lover comes with a lot of responsibility and a lot of worry. Mostly he worries that Gavin is tying himself down without knowing what his options really are.
Gavin has his own baggage to deal with, including old wounds from a family who disowned him when he was only a teenager.
As they struggle to meet in the middle after a short but painful breakup, Gavin’s pregnant sister lands on their doorstep and spins their world off its axis. At the heart of the chaos, though, Ben and Gavin manage to fall in love all over again. This time for all the right reasons.


Me Likey, Me No Likey

Hmph. Where to start? Okay. Good stuff first. I luuuuurve J.H. Knight’s books. Love, Love, Love. Mm-hmm, like that freaky weird tree in The Last Unicorn. You know the one? Here, maybe this will refresh your memory:

the love tree last unicorn animated

Yep. Love. Love. Love. Ha! Anyway, now that I got that out of my system … moving on. One of my all-time favorite MM books is The Last Thing He Needs. And maybe I misunderstood somehow or other, but this book was pitched to me as a follow-on/sequel to Tommy and Bobby’s story, or, to make it so much more simple, I thought it was supposed to be: The Last Thing He Needs (Book, #2). However, that is not what I feel like we got here, and now that it’s been released, there’s no distinct link to a series on either Goodreads or Amazon, so … I don’t know. I’m whining about it because I had expectations based on what was implied and because of that, erroneous or not, I am slightly disgruntled.

Let me explain. Because I thought it was a series installment, I expected to revisit Tommy and Bobby. Obviously, I knew this one was going to be about Ben and Gavin because let’s face it, duh, the title. Unfortunately, we got only an honorable mention of Tommy and Bobby and what felt like a disconnected story about Ben and Gavin. If I try to remove my expectations from the reality of what we were given, the story itself was good as long as you don’t mind the fact that it was missing a beginning and an ending and had no true plot. The relationship development and some (at first) peripheral (and then) in your face family drama were the whole plot.

I was glad the miscommunication and misunderstanding crap between Ben and Gavin didn’t go overboard or continue for too long. I hate it when older MCs get all paternal. It’s icky. I also liked the personal and relationship growth both Ben and Gavin underwent throughout. It just didn’t seem like enough story to satisfy, not after reading The Last Thing He Needs.

~~~~~~~unsettled unsatisfied unfinished~~~~~~~

What I will say is this: I am in love with the realism in these stories, regardless of how I feel about a lack of overall story arc between related books. The stories consist of real-world problems and resolutions that make sense on- and off-page. Whatever Knight’s characters endure is something that is happening to someone in everyday life at the very same moment. Of that, I have no doubt. In my humble opinion, that is something a lot of contemporary romance lacks: a true sense of realism. Ordinarily, too much reality bores me. After all, what’s sexy about diaper changes or house-hunting? I read to escape boring stuff like that, but Knight makes it interesting and it somehow lives in a framework that allows the otherwise mundane to remain sexy and page-turning. That’s a gift and a definite sign of inspired writing.

I don’t know if Knight is going to circle the wagons and bring everything together or if these MCs are going to be living in isolated bubbles that occasionally brush one another like Cara Dee’s Camassia Cove stories. I just don’t know. I wish there had been more to this one and I wish there had been more of a connection between the related stories. Barring any of that, there’s not much more to say.

pouting disappointment

Ultimately, I don’t know where it all goes from here and that makes me a little sad. I felt like we missed out on a lot of potential in this one even though, objectively speaking, the end result was pretty good. So for that reason and the ones I already mentioned, I’m still a bit disappointed but I’m hopeful that what comes next will live up to what came before.

If you want to read a good story by a good writer and aren’t so much concerned with or invested in adjacent characters, then go for it. If you’re hoping for a series connection, you’ll be disappointed.

This review cross-posted at Goodreads.
Other reviews by NeRdyWYRM can be read here.

Images (when present) may be subject to copyright.


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Galley copy of Ben & Gavin provided by J.H. Knight in exchange of an honest review.

Author

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.

~~wink-wink~~

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.

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