Review: Us, by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy


cover-ellekenedy-usCan your favorite hockey players finish their first season together undefeated?
Five months in, NHL forward Ryan Wesley is having a record-breaking rookie season. He’s living his dream of playing pro hockey and coming home every night to the man he loves—Jamie Canning, his longtime best friend turned boyfriend. There’s just one problem: the most important relationship of his life is one he needs to keep hidden, or else face a media storm that will eclipse his success on the ice.

Jamie loves Wes. He really, truly does. But hiding sucks. It’s not the life Jamie envisioned for himself, and the strain of keeping their secret is taking its toll. It doesn’t help that his new job isn’t going as smoothly as he’d hoped, but he knows he can power through it as long as he has Wes. At least apartment 10B is their retreat, where they can always be themselves.

Or can they? When Wes’s nosiest teammate moves in upstairs, the threads of their carefully woven lie begin to unravel. With the outside world determined to take its best shot at them, can Wes and Jamie develop major-league relationship skills on the fly?

Warning: contains sexual situations, a vibrating chair, long-distance sexytimes and proof that hockey players look hot in any shade of green


Dates read:
Edition read:
March 8, 2016
Rennie Road Books
Contemporary, Bi-sexual, M/M, GLBT+
255 e-book pages
1st person/present tense/dual POV
Him, book 2
March 9-10, 2016
Kindle Edition
See the book on GoodReads.

Rating:     ⭐️⭐️

Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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Man, I was hoping I’d love this. I really, really was.

Just…I couldn’t figure out the point of WHY we needed this book.

I liked the first one in the series well enough. Thought it was quite complete. It sure felt the guys got their HEA. I was cool with it. Loads of people were cool with it.

The end of the first book didn’t seem to hang precariously on any sort of cliff, and it didn’t seem as though any loose threads were left dangling.

So why?

Because look. As a reader and consumer who spends a lot of hard-earned money on books, and really wants to like the books I choose to buy, I don’t like getting the feeling that an author is attempting to cash in on a wave of success from a previous book with characters who got a complete story. There better be something of significant merit begging to be told or else I’m gonna feel duped.

And I do feel a bit duped because the story felt forced.

Manufactured probbblemzzz. Miscomuuunicashun. Woe is me feeeeelz.

Why, oh why, oh why?

It bored me senseless–all that whatthefuckery spanning 255 pages when a conversation between two guys who’d been besties since the age of thirteen, could talk about anything, have the “you complete me” level of intimacy, couldn’t have a chat. A chat, even in jock-speak, would’ve prevented so much unnecessary angst.

Somehow, in the first book, the first-person/present-tense POV worked just fine for me. Here…it did not. It grated. There’s a special je ne sais quoi a book has to have for it to work for me. I think it’s pacing and being a story that’s grabbed me by the throat.

The first book was also riddled with miscommunications–but they were resolved quickly, succinctly, and with a decent level of maturity considering the ages of our heroes. So how these guys had their heads crammed up their own asses for so long and chose BJs over a brief convo. Sighs and lots of Nopes from this reader.

Overall, I think all that all THAT dimmed these characters for me and I lost total focus on what I liked so much about them the first time to the point they felt like strangers I didn’t much care about.

There were some parts that kept me going, along with a few ounces of optimism. Though I admit a few stray thoughts of giving up and moving on.

Jamie’s family–the best. Wesley’s team? Awesome. Except Blake. I could have done without Blake. Turns out he’s a good friend, but for the love of Thin Mints, he was on my last nerve.

The coming out again. At first, all the build up over this and their re-closeting bothered me because it felt like ground that had been covered. But then I remembered something I read a while ago about how nobody comes out of the closet once. It happens over, and over, and over, ad nauseam with every new person, job, school, situation, where people feel the need to protect themselves and anywhere there’s a chance others might think someone’s sexuality is their business. I can barely wrap my head around how goddamn tiresome, frustrating, and painful that must be. And that this was planned, discussed, agreed to between these guys with an end-date in sight, just a rookie season. I understood where these guys were coming from and attempting to delay the inevitability of being under the microscope of the public eye for Big Gay Reasons. Instead, wanting to avoid that drama in order to focus any publicity on athletic merit. So when that choice was taken out of their hands? I got super ragey on their behalf as I do when anyone is forced out against their will. While it kicked up a media frenzy and could have gone all kinds of sideways, I was glad to see, that for the most part, it wasn’t a venom-filled shitstorm.

I cried twice (a total of three tears so don’t get excited). First–a phone call. Second–the kids Jamie coaches. Both times were very near the end and came relatively close together. The second time might have been residual moisture that hadn’t had a chance to evaporate. Whatever. Fine. Two times my heart clenched and I produced happy tears entirely against my will.

But I’ve got three more catty little things. And I’m well aware I’m being mostly ridiculous so don’t mind me at all.

Do dudes who frequently travel, leaving the loved one behind, typically keep a sachet of lube in their wallet in the event said loved-one just so happens to show up unexpectedly at the hotel thousands of miles from home to make the grand gesture of professing undying love? Shouldn’t it be, ya know, the one making said gesture to be the boy scout?

Around 90% a chick named Katie showed up (another player’s wife) bearing gifts and good cheer. Now, it always gives me a little smile to see my name show up in a book. This pleases me. But. BUT! I was juuuust aggravated enough with the story that this particular Katie speaking in exclamation points nearly every goddamn sentence made me want to shove her pompoms (that I just know were stashed in her purse) up her ass for all that cheery cheer. And I only mention this because somehow I’ve been seeing this a lot in the last few years…girls named Katie being way too effing cheerful. We’re not. I stand as Exhibit A. I could also call to the stand Exhibits B, C & D and testify that we’ve discussed this recent development with much disdain and eye-rolling.

The cutesy warning tags in blurbs? I’m about over them. Warning me about a vibrating chair? Really? This trend needs to stop. Seriously. There’s a reason for warning tags and it is absolutely not for making light of the need for serious potential triggers such as non-consent or abuse.

Please, please, please don’t let there be a “We” of after the wedding and subsequent kid adopting with Jamie as a taken-for-granted-stay-at-home-dad. Just…no. I’m done. Done I tell you.

This review also posted on GoodReads.

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