It’s easy to become cynical when life never goes your way.
Cole Reid has been a social recluse since he was fifteen, when he was outed by his high school baseball team. Since then, his obsessive-compulsive behavior and sarcastic nature have driven away most of the population, and everyone else hates him because he’s gay. As he sees it, he’s bound to repulse any prospective friends, let alone boyfriends, so why bother?
By the time Cole enters college, he’s become an anal-retentive loner—but it’s not a problem until his roommate graduates and the housing department assigns Ellis Montgomery to move in with Cole. Ellis is messy, gorgeous, straight, and worst of all, a jock!
During a school year filled with frat buddies, camping expeditions, and meddling parents, Cole and Ellis develop a friendship that turns Cole’s glass-half-empty outlook on its head. There must be more to Ellis than a fun-loving jock—and maybe Cole’s reawakening libido has rekindled his hope for more than camaraderie.
BUY LINK: Dreamspinner
There are so many things about this book that I like. It is strong from beginning to end. And I say this even though I wasn’t happy with some of the events that go on.
Out first impression is of Cole, a self admitted control freak with OCD tendencies. We are in his POV for the majority of the book so if Cole rubs you the wrong way then that could hamper your enjoyment of this story. For me, though, I found him to be just the right balance of charm and nuttiness. (I have a little control freak in me so I can relate.) His methods are a little over the top sometimes, but is written in such a way that works. For all that he is trying to stay in the shadows, he has A LOT of fire!
The reasons for his behavior are explained well. His background experiences are hardly new or original, but instead of dragging it out, it is presented in a way that says “this is it, I’ve dealt with it, so should you, let’s move on.” I think it would have been fine for his history to have taken up more page time, but by limiting the past, there was much more room for developing more original here-and-now content.
I knew I should throw out any preconceived notions as soon as the first kiss happened around the 11% mark on my kindle. I’m always worried when the couple gets together too quickly. Either the rest of the book turns too fluffy for my taste, or they go through hell and back to earn their HEA. MRAJ?WC! has given me a third option. There were so many things that happened in this book and none of them felt rushed or incomplete or over dramatic. Every event had it’s own space. (Kind of fitting for a book about a control freak 🙂 )
Another thing I was not expecting but worried about as soon as it presented itself was religion. I find a lot of the religious content of MM books to be heavy handed … either in a nasty, bigoted way or by preaching to the choir. Not so in MRAJ?WC!, at least not in my opinion. A supporting character is religious. His views are discussed and other characters are free to disagree and there is no harm or ill will, no drama, no hidden agenda. Religion happens, that’s about as worked up as anyone gets over it.
POV and timeline a huge sticking points for me. As far as I could see, the timeline was pretty tight. MRAJ?WC! is paced well and written clearly. The POV threw me a couple of times. Cole is the dominant POV, but there are 5 other characters that share their POV at one time or another. 4 POV changes are from supporting characters. Each one brings something necessary to the story even though they originally confused me. The first time it happened I went back to re-read the book blurb because I thought I forgot who the love interest was supposed to be. Why are we hearing from a secondary character, is his POV going to pop up again? The easy answer turned out to be no, but his insight added a lot to the story. As did the other 3 who made singular POV appearances. I didn’t always like what they had to say or how they behaved, but they were all important. Depth, and lots of it!
The 5th POV is obvious, Cole’s roommate, Ellis. We don’t hear from him often, but it’s a doozy when we do. His journey is surprising. The book blurb doesn’t hint too much to Ellis’s inner debate. And his sticking point isn’t his sexuality, not really. There is a little, but it turns out to be much more than that. A self-aware, self-perception kind of thing. This part could have been really insulting if it were written badly. I haven’t seen any reviews mention it, so I can only assume that, like me, they felt Ellis’s feelings, experiences, and actions were written very well. Add in the very real life truth that every sexual escapade isn’t as perfect as most books would like to portray, and Ellis is an awesomely unique character.
The only thing that still has me baffled is Cole’s interaction with Stan, the school’s housing something-or-other. When he is first introduced everything seems fine. I don’t recall anything standing out about the man. Not surprising since he doesn’t have a huge part to play except as the one responsible for saddling the jockaphobe with a jock roommate. When he reappears mid story, he is more developed … but nothing like I assumed based on his and Cole’s earlier encounters. Not his age, not his job, not his personality, and certainly not his intentions. Stan isn’t shown in a good light and I’m not too sure why. Was this just because we are seeing him through Cole’s dark-colored glasses after a bad morning? Cole’s new impression of Stan totally overshadows everything in a distracting way. What was the point? Toning down Stan’s dialogue would have just kept the scene as an essential step along the way. Leaving the scene intact but following it up later with something to re-enforce Cole’s reaction would have given the scene purpose. But as-is, the scene seems to stick out like a sore thumb to me.
But don’t let that stop you. MRAJ?WC! is a really good book that may challenge your perception of college nerd/jock stories. I was not expecting anything more than a few hours of banter reading but got something so much more original and complex.