Tuesday, July 27, 2021

River Jaymes - The Backup Boyfriend

Professionally, Dr. Alec Johnson has almost reached his goals. As this year’s recipient of a humanitarian award with his ex, Dr. Tyler Hall, Alec’s work with the homeless is about to be recognized. Unfortunately, his personal life sucks because now he has to attend several events alongside Tyler—with his ex’s new boyfriend in tow. In an attempt to lift his mood and break out of his rut, Alec purchases a motorcycle he has no idea how to start.
Dylan Booth doesn't have time for Dr. Clueless and his fickle 1964 Harley, but the cocky mechanic can’t say no to the request for help. Having spent his teen years on the streets, and losing his best friend to HIV, Dylan decides teaching the do-gooder how to ride is the least he can do. But watching Alec flounder in his ex's company throws Dylan into protector mode, and the confirmed hetero introduces himself as Alec's new boyfriend.
The ex suspects Dylan is lying.
Alec claims Dylan’s plan is insane.
And Dylan’s not sure he can fake being gay.
But he’s a master bullshitter, and the phony PDA soon turns ultra-hot. Alec can’t afford to get attached, and Dylan’s learned everyone eventually leaves. Unfortunately, playing the backup boyfriend is starting to feel way too real…

Comment: Another book from the pile. I got interested in it because it would offer the trope of relationship by convenience when someone is with another for some reason and, of course, the fake turns into reality...

Alec is still devastated over his ex leaving him for someone else when he is invited to several events work related where said ex will also be present with his new guy. He decides to take mind out of his worries by trying new things and buys a bike but struggles to manage it, which is how he meets mechanic Dylan. Somehow, at the time his ex is present to get his things from the house they used to share, and while Dylan is checking the bike for what is wrong, Dylan realizes Alec is uncomfortable and tells the ex he is Alec's new boyfriend. All are caught unaware but even with suspicion, the ex believes them. Now Alec has someone to act as substitute but can the faking be all that easy or is it that some of their interactions have more truth than they thought?

This is one of those feel good stories where the biggest conflict is to know if the characters will own to their feelings and tell each other they are falling in love. It can be true this is harder than one can imagine but this story does focus more on the protagonists' attempts to be in sync with their feelings, it wasn't dramatic or heavy to read despite one or two subjects which can be seen as more complex.

The premise is a little hard to accept as likely, that someone happens to help someone else by saying g their are a couple just like that? Really, only in books or movies, but that is why we like fiction, and Dylan was a real helper to Alec even though he isn't gay. However, he quickly lets go of inhibitions and starts seeing Alec for who he is, not just by his gender, so his emotions get messed very fast too. I liked that, although he wasn't certain about what he was feeling, he wasn't pushing Alec aside nor was he using his gender to excuse why not. Dylan was more concerned about his emotional investment which, for reasons, he didn't want to commit to.

As for Alec, it was tricky because at this point he felt he was still in love with his ex but as he spent time with Dylan and started seeing things through his POV in their shared experiences, it became obvious to us he was changing his opinion. I think Alec was a sensitive but realistic guy and I was rooting for him to find a way to convince Dylan they didn't have to label their relationship but that knowing they had to call it something was important to Alec.

The romance has sweet and seductive scenes/moments, I liked the dichotomy of what both guys expected and how they acted on their ideas of what it meant to be with someone they didn't expect to care so much about. While I understand Dylan's reticence, he had never seen himself as bi, much less exclusively gay, his issues were deeper than one might think and his change of heart felt more like he had to, than a natural process. Meaning, he had an idea for too long it was hard to believe his change of heart so close to the end. It suited the romance expectations, though.

As for Alec, he was more in sync with his own feelings and such, so he shared them sooner and this was the starting point for some of the personal conflict on the latter part of the book. Still, despite their issues, they found common ground and I was happy they reached their HEA, but overall, this wasn't as wonderful as I could want. It as still a good read, easy, fluid, perfect to spend some time with something not too complicated or convoluted.
Grade: 7/10

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