Saturday, June 27, 2020

Tessa Bailey - Heat Stroke

They can't be together. They won't stay apart.
Marcus “Diesel” O’Shaughnessy is a brash, oversized CrossFit enthusiast with a naked lady tattooed on his rippling forearm. Jamie Prince is a private school teacher with an extremely low tolerance for bull. The two men have zero in common. Well, except for three things.
They’re both moonlighting as lifeguards for the summer.
No matter how hard they try, they cannot stay away from each other.
And both of them have secrets they’re determined to keep.
But what happens in the shadows of the Long Beach boardwalk can only remain hidden for so long, before the July sunshine reveals the hot, unrelenting connection they never expected, forcing Marcus and Jamie to decide if they’re simply caught up in a temporary heat stroke or if they’ve found something worth rescuing...

Comment: I saw this book being recommended last year by someone who liked this book and whose words made me curious to read it too. 
I had previously read another book by the author, I know she wrote only m/f stories so I was even more eager to try this one, which features a gay couple, and see how she would do it.

In this book we meet Jamie and Marcus, an unlikely couple since Jamie is quite a nerd, he likes reading, he teaches at a private school and he is only on Marcus radar because of their work as lifeguards on long Beach.
Jamie's brother has a bar, he manages the lifeguard's schedules and for three years Marcus has been saying cute and sometimes silly comments but Jamie can see Marcus is attracted to him without realizing exactly why.
Marcus is considered to be a little dumb by his peers but he has a heart of gold. He can't put Jamie aside of his thoughts and he can't wait for summer to arrive because he knows he would see his friend Jamie. Lately, though, his thoughts haven't been strictly friendly anymore... is this the year where everything will change for them both?

This is the second installment in a trilogy about the Prince brothers, this being the story of the middle brother Jamie.
I haven't read the first story but it doesn't feel like I have to. It is enough to know the younger brother, protagonist of book #1, is now happy. I'm, however, curious to see how the protagonists of book #3 will go on to be together so I consider this one a double success: good story and made me interested in knowing what is to come too.

Reading this story was a blast. Yes, this wasn't perfect but it was so cute, so sweet at times and the sexual tension so great that I couldn't help but rooting for them to understand each other and be together.
I think the author did a good job writing an m/m story because intimacy apart, what really made this special was how the relationship developed and, for me, how great Marcus is.

The story isn't too complicated and the author used some clichés to develop the plot but I can't really fault that since clichés exist because reality hasn't changed that much and there will still exist gays that are attacked by being gay and there will still be gays who don't feel prepared to assume their sexuality nor the step to live as such. This is, basically, what happens to Jamie and Marcus and why their relationship follows some patterned expectations.

Nevertheless, when they are together, when they are being friends - they never stop being that just because they are attracted too - we can feel how much they mean to one another. I liked to see the way the author developed their emotions and desires through well done sexual tension scenes but even better than that, what made their relationship work for me was how they felt comfortable in each others' presence, how they supported one another. Like how Jamie helps Marcus with his business.
It was also very good to see their interactions with their family members. It's not the same experience for both, no, but in the end seeing them being supported by their family was great too.

Where I think the author went perfectly was in the characterization of Marcus. He is seen as a little dumb and clumsy but he is adorable. He isn't stupid, only he has a very special way of thinking and his heart id pure gold. I could empathize with his struggles, with his doubts of who he was and although he did accept things rather quickly looking at the timeline, his personality shone and I could simply be amazed he was able to go through so much and still be a humble person.
Jamie is more self aware, probably because of his experiences but he does not resist much, I mean, how could he do that when Marcus was a well defined and hot teddy bear?
I liked how their relationship developed and no one has it always perfect, always steady, always easy so even the less positive aspects of their relationship felt credible.

This was quite great for me. Some issues were a little dragged, the whole secret thing a little dumb considering how they acted around one another... It felt silly how more characters wouldn't notice based on their behavior around one another.
Still, this was a very good novel and I do hope the author writes more m/m in the future; she has the talent for it.
Grade: 8/10

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