Many thanks to Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews.
Here’s Mark’s Review
Can love reform one’s behaviour? Well, this is definitely the case for Benjamin when he meets Vinnie who turns his world upside down. Until he meets Vinnie Benjamin’s idea of a relationship was a blowjob in the backroom of the local gay night club. Yes, Benjamin’s young, free, single and a bit of a man whore to be honest. I just loved the way that his attitude and behaviour transforms once he meets Vinnie at Uni. He falls heavily in love which makes him reconsider his way of life, realising how empty and unfulfilling his life has actually been until now. This had me reminiscing of when I was in my early twenties which feels like another lifetime, but with youth comes the self-confidence of being independent and the thought of being tied to someone forever a frightening thought. Until you meet the right person and then everything looks completely different. After a while you start to long for that person to wake up to in the mornings, knowing someone is next to you all night, every night. It really is something special even after all these years. Benjamin goes through the whole gamut of emotions during this book but comes out the other end the better person for it.
“I craved a best friend, someone to talk to and share my life as well as my bed. One-night hook ups had inexplicably lost their appeal.”
Vinnie is an art student and is more the shy and retiring kind of guy. He has been admiring Benjamin from afar for a while but never plucked up the courage to speak to him, also thinking that he wouldn’t be interested in him especially knowing what Benjamin is like. Vinnie had already been hurt before when jilted in a previous relationship and obviously is guarded with his emotions. If he’s going to give his heart to anyone he wants to make sure that it isn’t for a quickie and then left on the side. I loved Vinnie, such a caring but as is the nature of artists a sensitive soul who takes everything to heart.
When these two meet it was so sweet and even though Benjamin has fallen head over heels for Vinnie he still has to prove to Vinnie that he isn’t in it for a one night stand. I just loved the way that Vinnie plays him along at the beginning, making Benjamin work and prove himself worthy of a relationship, but once Vinnie lets the final barriers down these two guys just make one hot couple. I loved the way that Vinnie’s feelings, emotions and moods can be seen and viewed through his painting. I guess like any talented artist there is always a piece of themselves that is worked into every picture they paint and this is definitely the case for Vinnie.
“We never moved much beyond this – aroused and hard and grinding. Anything more and he would back off. We hadn’t talked about it yet. I knew we should, but I let it pass each time, fearful of making him runaway.”
They leave Uni and the normal daily drudge of work, job, etc. starts to creep into their relationship and as with anyone once the honeymoon period is over this is then the real test of a relationship. It’s make or break time. I liked this part as it is honest, realistic, no fancy, dreamy frills that you only get in a Mills and Boon romance. It’s down to the hard facts of life.
Vinnie is working on a job at a children’s hospital with another artist called James and jealously raises it’s ugly head on Benjamin’s side. OK, James from the very beginning for me was smarmy and detestable, but Vinnie seemed to like him and I could only take Benjamin’s side on this one. Vinnie starts arriving home late, never phones Benjamin to say he’ll be home later which would be the considerate thing to do. Benjamin starts to get jealous, the chinks in their relationship start to appear, everything escalates out of control until it comes to the inevitable and Vinnie storms out on Benjamin in rage, leaving him high, dry and alone. My heart went out to Benjamin to be honest though for several reasons.
Maybe Benjamin was behaving a little bit like a drama queen and behaving all jealous, but to be honest Vinnie gave him every reason to and didn’t make things better. I think there is nothing worse than expecting you’re loved one home at a certain time and he doesn’t appear. However, when he doesn’t even bother to ring you either to let you know he’ll be late, considering you might be worried sick wondering where he is, this in my books is a really shitty thing and shows total lack of consideration. Yep, totally on Benjamin’s side there! Once mistrust starts to build up it’s a very difficult thing to get out of the way. Benjamin is now so alone it’s heart-breaking. Having experienced this myself, as probably many of us have too, it really is a crappy time for anyone. In my case my worst fears were confirmed and that was then end of a seven year relationship which I thought was still OK. Silly, naive me – lol! This is why my heart was aching for Benjamin at this point, even as time goes by he still can’t get Vinnie out of his mind. Well, this does take time for sure that’s true as anyone who has been through this kind of breakup will know.
Vinnie takes off and stays with James not making things better and through all this Vinnie’s brothers Theo and Finn provide the biggest support for Benjamin. They know Vinnie is still pining for Benjamin, but neither Benjamin nor Vinnie are giving any ground or prepared to approach the other. It just always amazes me how stubborn people can be at times.The support from Vinnie’s brothers however was so heart-warming, I could just feel the love these brothers have for each other. Of course we also mustn’t forget the big older sister either who I reckon keeps her brothers all in order quietly anyway – lol! So four siblings all told and Vinnie is the baby. Well, the way he acts at time I must say he did have some very younger sibling qualities for sure.
The only thing I felt for me that went a bit over the top was the fact that during this time Finn, Vinnie’s older brother, comes out of the closet. We already know that Theo is bi but I got the impression he’s possibly a little more into men than the other way round. This was the point to be honest where my imagination was just stretched a little too far beyond the realms of credibility. Three brothers and they are all gay? Ah sorry, but realistically I don’t think so somehow. I have one younger brother, happily married who has a wonderful daughter which means I get a gorgeous niece to spoil and adore. I only have the one brother, he is supportive, my best friend and confidante, we joke around, but he’s straight as they come. Maybe two brothers out of three being gay, or another cousin, nephew, etc. OK, believable. But three brothers from three are gay? Even as a gay man myself, for me it just felt there was a little too much of the gay – lol! It is probably only me that had a few problems with the plausibility of this situation or plot device and maybe there are real situations where all brothers are gay when there is more than two, however statistically speaking I’m afraid I’m not really convinced. I’m always willing to be proved wrong for the better though, so please if anyone can enlighten me with a real situation then I would be more than delighted to hear about it. Always willing to live and learn. It didn’t however detach me from the story too much and once I just accepted the idea was totally invested in the book.
Let me however not distract you from what is only for me a personal minor small point in a story that truly is an emotional ride with a beautiful HEA. Needless to say without giving too much away, Benjamin has to be patient and he is which pays off as Vinnie is seriously not happy with James. Well, in the end the family had to get him away from the piece of shit that James is and bring him home in a cloak and dagger operation. Poor Vinnie I just felt so sorry for him, hurting, alone and in another relationship which was poisoning him slowly but surely. However, I guess it was exactly this that showed him how much he had with Benjamin despite the fact that nobody is perfect and Benjamin is by no means an exception either.
There are some harrowing moments for Benjamin to pull through and I could just feel his loneliness without Vinnie. It was truly upsetting for me to read how he was suffering from missing Vinnie, but at the same time clutching on to every last straw thrown his way that might eventually bring Vinnie back to him. His patience pays off and I was only glad and relieved to see how they gradually got back together to form a relationship that is now possibly stronger than it ever was before. This meant the book ended on a beautiful high point and that did produced a warm, gooey feeling inside.
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Many thanks to Mark at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews for the review and the wonderful Paint the Sky banner.