Title: Ben & Gavin
Author: J.H. Knight
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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