Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Heidi Cullinan - Love Lessons

Love doesn’t come with a syllabus.
Kelly Davidson has waited what seems like forever to graduate high school and get out of his small-minded, small town. But when he arrives at Hope University, he quickly realizes finding his Prince Charming isn’t so easy. Everyone here is already out. In fact, Kelly could be the only virgin on campus.
Worst of all, he’s landed the charming, handsome, gay campus Casanova as a roommate, whose bed might as well be equipped with a revolving door.
Walter Lucas doesn’t believe in storybook love. Everyone is better off having as much fun as possible with as many people as possible…except his shy, sad little sack of a roommate is seriously screwing up his world view.
As Walter sets out to lure Kelly out of his shell, staying just friends is harder than he anticipated. He discovers love is a crash course in determination. To make the grade, he’ll have to finally show up for class…and overcome his own private fear that love was never meant to last.

Comment: The promise of a romance story between a known player and a shy guy is always a little bit of catnip to me as I tend to enjoy stories with opposites attract. It was probably because of this I added the book to my TBR but the execution ended up being a little below what I expected.

In this book we have the story of Kelly Davidson (weird name for a guy, isn't it?), a freshman at Hope University who wants to finally be himself out of his small community where everyone knows everyone. Since Kelly has allergies he was placed in a dorm where he would need air filters and that means he needs to share a room with someone. That guy is Walter Lucas, a very confident person on his own skin but who, despite his reputation, cares for Kelly and goes out of his way to help him along.
However, university expectations aren't always met and the two guys, who seem to share a need to keep their friendship but also feel attracted to one another will need to face external issues before a HEA is achieved...

On one hand, it's great that this author has used a very realistic and contemporary scenario to build in her story around. The characters are going to develop a romance but there are several issues happening that make the story feel closer to something we could to find in any real university campus.
There are issues regarding a teacher's tenure, issues about Kelly's family and their finances, Walter's mother and her sort of depression and even about Kelly and Walter's differences in personality and choices.

Although it does feel a lot, things are well woven to one another and provide a very realistic take to contemporary situations.
However, despite understanding a slightly darker tone in the story here and there for obvious reasons, I must say for me the plot took too long to happen and be solved. I'd say this story would have gained from being a few pages less. I admit there were parts a little too boring.

Kelly is a cute character and I was rooting for him. He has many qualities, he is shy and sensitive without being too childish (even with his love for Disney) and I wanted to see him improve into an amazing adult. But there seemed to exist a certain emphasis on his quirkiness and allergies and emotional state. None of this is wrong but couldn't stop thinking at times he was too "protected" and sometimes he also came across as being too bland and difficult to change. I get why but his involvement with Walter, despite paced, felt unlikely. I think Kelly wasn't explored as well as he could, his personality only an excuse for certain things.
Perhaps if the relationship had been focused differently...perhaps only on them and not as much as they as part of a whole group... or, eventually, there was just too much inner dialogue and not enough action. The plot dragged, yes.

Walter is a more fascinating character. He is confident in himself but he still fears abandonment and he fears he will always need to take of his mother's feelings for a situation not his fault. I got his issues and why he would be a little aloof at times.
I liked how he behaved with Kelly and helped him and I trusted him when his feelings changed and why he chose to take his time. But because they went from friends to lovers the dynamics of their relationship felt out of place and actually intrusive. I felt they were too good as friends to change things. Walter also seemed a little to active for Kelley's less exuberant attitudes.

I didn't dislike the author's style nor the way she told her story. But some parts dragged, some dynamics felt off and I wasn't as interested in all elements the same to some chapters were interesting and others not really.
I think less pages, more edition and a little bit more of believable sexual tension would have done the trick. Nevertheless, a good enough story even if with and a sugary HEA.
Grade: 6/10

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