Rockets and Romance (CrabbyPatty’s Review)

Title: Rockets and Romance (States of Love)
Author: Wendy Qualls
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: August 2, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 97
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5


Love isn’t rocket science… or is it?

Julian Barlow has finally landed his dream job working for NASA. The catch? He has to move to Huntsville, Alabama—a daunting prospect for a gay pescetarian from Los Angeles who’s never been south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Fellow engineer Cody Ewing is an Alabama boy through and through, and Julian’s casual assumptions about the South in general and Southern homophobia in particular makes it dislike at first sight. Then NASA throws them together on a months-long project, and they have to make it work.

Forced to rely on each other, the two men develop a tentative friendship that becomes something more as Cody shows Julian Alabama’s good side. Julian’s insistence on secrecy and Cody’s hot-and-cold act could scuttle their chances before they ever get off the ground, though.

Julian Barlows gets his dream job at NASA, but Huntsville, Alabama is definitely NOT his dream location. Julian brings with him a boatload of preconceptions and ideas about living as a gay man in the south. The beauty of this short novella is how the author goes about changing those stereotypes and giving us a sweet romance.

Julian’s initial work assignment is deciphering programming code developed by a retired programmer, or as Julian says “deciphering it is like trying to translate Sanskrit into Java” and that the code “reads like the bastard love child of Perl and that mumbling homeless guy who panhandles outside Whole Foods.” (Love the geek snark)

After a bit of a rocky start, Julian and Cody soon have a comfortable work relationship, as well as one outside of the office as Cody decides to show Julian there is a strong LGBTQ presence in Huntsville. In the process of attending concerts, events, going out to dinner, they come to realize they can have a future together. I could have done without Julian and Cody’s last minute miscommunication angst, which seemed somewhat out of character with their easy-going relationship, but on the whole I liked their chemistry.

I especially like the way Qualls shows us Huntsville and its various events, businesses and nightlife. This book exemplifies why I love the Dreamspinner States of Love series, with authors giving us wonderful little portrayals of the United States they love. 4 stars.

States of Love series

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of Rockets and Romance provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange of an honest review.


Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.  Frederick Douglas I distinctly remember that day in school when, all of a sudden, those squiggles on the page made sense and I could read. It has changed my life in ways I still cannot comprehend. My favorite M/M tropes are friends-to-lovers, murder/mysteries, amnesia, hurt/healing and historicals. Shifters, vampires, paranormal? Meh ... not in my wheelhouse, but I'm a sucker for a well-written well-plotted book, no matter the genre. Favorite authors includes Brandon Witt, Rick R. Reed, Abigail Roux, Jay Northcote, JL Merrow, KJ Charles, Lane Hayes, Marshall Thornton and so many more. A few "badges" from NetGalley: 100 Book Reviews Reviews Published Professional Reader