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How can you be twenty-five and not know you’re gay? Billy Ballew runs from that question. A high school dropout, barely able to read until he taught himself, Billy’s life is driven by his need to help support his parents as a construction worker, put his sisters through college, coach his Little League team, and not think about being a three-time loser in the engagement department. Being terrified of taking tests keeps Billy from getting the contractor’s license he so desires, and fear of his mother’s judgement blinds Billy to what could make him truly happy.
Then, in preparation for his sister’s big wedding, Billy meets Shaz—Chase Phillips—a rising star, celebrity stylist who defines the word gay. To Shaz, Billy embodies everything he’s ever wanted—stalwart, honest, brave—but even if Billy turns out to be gay, he could never endure the censure he’d get for being with a queen like Shaz. How can two men with so little in common find a way to be together? Can the Stylist of the Year end up with the Knight of Ocean Avenue?
Now, here’s the deal with me. I love fluff, but it has to be certain kind of fluff. I also need to be in a very specific mood for fluff, happy, cute stories. Well, to be fairly honest I need to be in a certain mood for every subgenre. Long story short: Last Thursday was a pathetic Thursday, and it sort of kept all through the darn weekend. What saved the day was this book. It’s fluffy in the perfect way, which, in Gaby’s world means just sweet and cute enough that it won’t send you directly to a sugar coma.
Now, let’s talk about the narrator, shall we? The guy’s name is K.C Kelly. For the most part I liked him a lot. I enjoyed how he inserted sounds and different things into his narration. The voice he used for Billy was great, and the voice he used for Shaz was kinda mesmerizing, in a way. I had only one tiny problem though… The sex scenes. Holy mother or god! The man literally moaned, gasped, groaned, and other sounds.. Now, this could be cool, yes? Ok, yeah, maybe… but it was SO LOUD!… I was listening to the audiobook close to midnight – earphones and all – and all of the sudden my husband touches my arm and literally asks me “Jesus! who’s MOANING and grunting like that! OMG! Are you listening to gay porn?”… How did he assume it could’ve been gay porn, I don’t know. I mean, it’s clear I have zero knowledge in the subject! HA! So, yes. If you like your sex scenes very, very, vivid, this book’s narrator may rock your world. In my very personal case, it either startled me or made me giggle like an idiot.
Now, on to the story!
Billy is a 25 year old man who has zero idea that he’s gay. The only thing he knows is that, for some reason, his relationships with women keep failing. Time after time.
When Billy meets Shaz turns out that there is something about the guy but he can’t quite put a finger on it… Shaz is this super flamboyant stylist. With his red hair, piercing green eyes, and flirty attitude, he manages to make our Billy blush more than once… and well, eventually, he makes him question his sexuality too.
This story falls in the Out For You category (once the gay man who doesn’t know he’s gay, realises that he is gay, anyway). And the thing is, that even if a sort of typical trope, this worked for me very well… And I think that the reason for this is that the author made me buy it, completely. So, really, this was a pretty good work. This is why this book stands out. Well, that, and that both MC’s seem to be well shaped.
I liked both MC’s but I fell head over hells for Shaz. The sassy guy who is absolutely wonderful, who is loyal, sweet, patient and very understanding. He’s not a selfish dude, and he’s amazingly talented. Billy is the one who has more “demons” to fight. He has to find himself, and reconcile with who he is after 25 years. He has to confront his family and friends and show them his true self, and of course, it gets confusing.
I enjoyed that Shaz stood by him all the time, holding his hand and encouraging him to be better. To show the world the best of himself. I also enjoyed that once Billy caught up and realized who he was and that maybe he’d made a mistake… or five… He did all he could to be honest, and speak the truth. Even if the truth wasn’t always… well, pretty.
The story goes at a good pace. The UST is great, and the chemistry between the MC’s is wonderful, too. You can totally feel it from the moment they met. I liked that they were good for each other, they made each other grow, individually, and of course, that growth reflected in their relationship later on.
The story has nice secondary characters. I loved Teresa. I also liked Rhonda. I was not a fan of Billy’s mom, though. Not at all. Billy’s friends, especially Jim, were pretty awesome. And I liked Shaz’s crew a lot, too.
So, why not a higher rating? … Ah… You see. In the story we meet Giles. Giles is Shaz’s rich boyfriend, once things go… awry with Giles, the rich guy just disappears. We don’t learn anything about him, and the “closure” of that chapter of Shaz’s life, feels nothing like a closure. Then there’s the situation involving said rich boyfriend, Rhonda (Billy’s sister) and her husband to be that also felt like it was a bit floating in the air. I loved the idea of all going so smoothly, but it seemed waaay too smooth for me. The last thing, and possibly the most important of the three was.. the.. sex talk. Oh dear lord. Was it odd. I struggled with it because the scenes were going so well and all of the sudden one of the MCs would blurt out a phrase that made it a bit weird. I think that without that wording the sex scenes would have been way better.
So, all in all, this was a nice book. If not for those tiny details this would have been a super solid 4 stars for me, because I truly enjoyed it.