Other Reviewers: Goodreads
What makes a good book? I ask myself this often as I try to grade a book for Goodreads. For example, I gave a two star for this book, yet the average was 3.72 (N=449). Take a look at the breakdown on Goodreads:
The median is closer to 4 stars, but we can see that most score the book between 3 and 4 stars, with a smaller number giving a 2 and 1 star. So what does this mean? Well, at first glance it means that I rated this book lower than most folks who read it. I believe that it simply means that more people have access to a book that they might normally not read. So in this example, I probably would not have read this book without Goodreads and my friends there to recommend it. The advent of eBooks and self-publishing gives us access to a wider selection of books. However, with this increased number of available books means a wider range of qualities. Not every author is going to be a Fitzgerald and some authors who do make the millions of books (think 50 Shades) we shake our heads and wonder what the hell Americans are thinking.
As I have written before, erotica can mean many things; some with complex plots others just pages and pages of sexual positions. If you try to read a book of an unfamiliar author, you run the risk of reading porn rather than a novel. (Note: Sometimes you are in the mood for porn, don’t get me wrong), and if you want to read porn and the book hits the mark, why not give it 5 stars if that was all that it was aiming? But, hey, that’s not the purpose of this review.
So, that brings me to this week’s book review, But My Boyfriend Is, by K.A. Mitchell. Using the same type of screenshot as before, the average score is 4.03 (N=109) and I gave it a 4 star. So we could say that I was the target audience. It falls under erotica because of the subject matter of gay contemporary romance, yet I find the series (and this book) much more complex than a series of sex scenes connected by dialog. So, what did I think of this book?
I anxiously waited for the fourth installment of the series Florida Books by K.A. Mitchell for months. I was late in finding the books so I got to just catch up on the series and waited drooling for this.
This is book Four, and the focus is on Dylan Williams (one of the twin brothers of Aaron Chase from Book #2), while in Texas with his twin Darryl at school. Mistaken for Dylan, he is assaulted in a park at night. Mike Aurietta happens on the attack and saves Darryl. Dylan has been hiding the fact that he is gay (actually denying it to himself) and is still attracted to Mike. But can he forget his fears and take that jump into a lasting relationship with Mike or will he continue to be shadowed by his past and what he thinks his family believes him to be?
Face it; I am just attracted to arrogant assholes, so I am probably not a good judge of “hero” characteristics. Confused abrasive men just make me want to force them into great big cuddles and show them how beautiful love can be. What we find in Dylan is someone whose life has been hard and one of the few people he has been able to depend on is his twin brother Darryl. We see a lot of backstory in Book #2 of the series, Collision Course, and it is important to note that Aaron is only half brother to the twins and Aaron is more of a father figure than brother. So when his brother is mistakenly assaulted, Dylan is devastated and filled with guilt. To top it off, Aaron takes Darryl away to recover to Jacksonville, and if you know Aaron it is not all love and flowers when he arrives. A quote as we begin the book:
He swallowed back the questions, the panicked guilt telling him this had to be his fault, the terror at the idea of losing the better piece of himself—everything that had been screaming through him since that phone call. He’d held it together in the cab, even while he’d struggled for breath when it seemed the air conditioner was blowing out every bit of the hot dry air of Central Texas in late April. Now, he just needed to make it through a few more seconds.
We begin the book with Dylan at the point of an identity crisis, always the “fucked up” twin, relying on Darryl to make the decisions and fix things when they go wrong. After all, Darryl is the “smart one”. Enter Mike, who is the first person to really get to know Dylan without the shadow of Darryl and finds something about Dylan that is of value, his heart.
Mike is the man who saves Darryl’s life and is not perfect either. Mike has compartmentalized his life: “straight” at work as a sports trainer at UT, and out as a gay man in his private life. He has had issues with relationships as well, so we cannot say he is exactly a perfect example of “out and proud”.
He is loving and strong, a good man who feels compelled to help Dylan with finding Dare’s attackers. Early on in the novel Dylan’s notices Mike’s strengths:
“Why hasn’t anyone been in the check on him?”
“It hasn’t been that long.”
Mike was the complete opposite of Aaron, calm and reassuring instead of barking orders and assigning blame.
And that is the key to Mike’s character, he is someone who observes and helps, stepping into the situation when needed, but understanding when little is better than more. He is opposite in many ways to Dylan, but is such a good complement.
On the surface, I think the theme is easy to read, one about acceptance. Often we allow ourselves to take on a mantle that is not ours to carry, but it is easier to accept the label of “fuck up” rather than to assert ourselves and risk alienation. After all, if our friends and family at least tolerates us as we are, what happens when you are honest with them and yourself about a hidden aspect? It’s better to just duck and cover than have an honest conversation.
But what happens when we do have an honest dialogue is something called freedom of spirit. Sure, the results might not be expected but being able to be honest with yourself is the most important thing that you can do. To be able to be the other half to another, you first must be honest with yourself.
Overall, the strength of this series is in the broken or bent character. K.A. Mitchell has the ability for us to be drawn into their character and see how they make the steps of self-improvement. In this case, we see such a dramatic change in Dylan and it is quite honestly partly done because of the support of a good man named Mike.
Another strong point for the book is the inclusion of the family: Joey and Aaron (and the rest). There is a scene at the end of the book between Aaron, Dylan, and Mike that just had me crying and cheering at the same time. So the number one strength of the book is in the writing quality of K.A. Mitchell. I know of very few writers who can write “family” dynamics and dialogue better.
What could be better?
There is very little that I would change about this book. I had a conflict with some of the personalities, but that had nothing to do with the quality of writing. As everything, I wish the book could have been longer, the ending to me seemed a bit rushed.
If you have liked the other books of this series, I believe that you will enjoy this one. We get to see a bit of Joey in this book, so we get enough twink to satisfy our needs. If you are looking for an emotionally intense book with lots of action and a bit of angst, this is the book for you.