Title: I’ve Got This
Series: A Joy Universe Novel
Author: Louisa Masters
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 223
Reviewed by: Bob-O-Link
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Derek Bryer loves his life. His job as an assistant director at Joy Universe, the second-largest theme park complex on the planet, makes him indirectly responsible for bringing joy (pun intended) to millions of people. So what if none of his relationships are that close? Everyone he meets loves him.
Except Trav Jones. For some reason, the visiting Broadway performer would rather Derek just go away. He appreciates Derek’s work ethic, though, and after Trav steps up when Derek desperately needs someone to fill in for his sick staff, Derek seizes the chance to convince Trav he’s not such a bad guy.
Falling in love while distracted by a murder at the park, food poisoning, and colleagues placing bets on their relationship won’t be easy, but between the two of them and with the magic of Joy Universe, they’ve got this.
I admit that it’s not often one favorably reviews a “gay” novel in which descriptive sex
plays only a light part. Perhaps not too many such books are offered up! Against that
populist trend, I’ve Got This is a really good read. We are returned to fiction beautifully
integrating the evolving facts (Yeah! It’s called plot.) and concurrently matching them
with character development. Still, no fear – as there is some nicely portrayed sex.
(“Man can he kiss.” and “I’ve got my hands in his pants . . . and can I just say wow?”
One of the tools quite well employed by Ms Masters is the internal dialog. Our main
characters regularly talk to themselves, or, breaking a “fourth wall,” directly to the
reader. It works – giving us deeper insight into them.
Derek, at 37, is a successful and controlling business executive. In actuality, he may be
all facade, as he has perfected a protective carapace for himself, sealing his inner person
from those around him. For example, while genuinely tending to a traumatized
employee, his never loses sight of the need to avoid a possible lawsuit. That is Derek,
functioning in his world. Breaking that “fourth wall,” at one point Derek sharply advises
the reader that his own boss is quite capable of conversational “routine boss douchery.”
Our heroes are particularly diverse, and, despite the commonality of employment, start
out only marginally knowing each other. Oddly, the initial effect on Derek’s first seeing
Trav is quite the trompe d’oeil. He notes the effect of Trav’s charisma on those orbiting
around Trav, making “me envision him as a sun. I dislike him on sight.” Note to reader:
carapace at work!
Trav, a seemingly relaxed and outgoing stage performer, is the product of a stressful,
bullied youth, which has now left him incapable of fully exercising the potential of his
talents. To him, Derek’s physicality and character emit a “center of the universe
aura, . . . reminds me of every jock who made my life miserable in high school . . .”
Ready or not, these two are destined for each other. Ms Masters successfully grabs and
retains our interest from their meeting to their HEA. Along the way, by being allowed to
look backstage, we readers are educated to the operations of a theme park – perhaps in
more detail than we ever wanted.
The plot starts with a bang, followed up with challenging reverses and personality
confrontations. The heroes recognize that they may be experiencing a wonderful but late
onset adolescence. Can they change? Can they become open with each other? Will the
surrounding crises overwhelm them? As Derek recognizes: “Oh crap. I’m living quite a
sappy rom-com.” To assuage any doubts as to why immersion into rom-com is a worthy
endeavor, read and enjoy Ms Masters’ I’ve Got This.