Real World, by Amy Jo Cousins
Series: Bend or Break, Book 5
Pre-Order Link: Samhain Publishing (Nov. 17, 2015)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Note: I highly recommend reading Books 1-4 before reading this one (especially Book 1), but it can be read as a stand-alone.
Six years ago, Tom Worthington busted his ass to overcome the fear and paranoia that led him to withdraw from the world and nearly lose his boyfriend. He never thought he’d find himself right back there, shutting Reese out, keeping secrets again.
Reese Anders is ready to try anything to get Tom to talk: If he can’t seduce his boyfriend with food, he’ll get Tom to open up in bed. But even Tom’s confession that his dad is getting out of prison soon doesn’t clear the air between them. And as the holidays approach, intensive mentoring from a new British boss creates more distractions, until Reese is keeping secrets of his own.
At a company Christmas party, it only takes Tom one look at Reese’s new boss to figure out how much danger their relationship is in. But he’s not about to let the connection that started all those years ago at Carlisle come to an end. It’s time to deal with their problems like adults. Face to face. Or back to front. Starting in the bedroom.
I don’t even know where to start on this book. It was flawless, gorgeous, with characters so real they practically jumped off the page and emotions that were written like poetry. I read it twice in a row: the first time I devoured it, turning pages like I would suffocate if I didn’t get more; then again a second time, slower, savoring every paragraph.
“The silent martyr returns?”
After five years, Tom and Reese are discovering that the real world is a lot harder than it looks. They found love in college, but now they’ve changed, grown, and things between them aren’t as pristine as they used to be. Or, rather, Tom has regressed, fallen back into old habits, and started to distance himself from Reese instead of sharing his problems.
This was a fantastic point of contention in the story, as Reese struggles to make Tom open up, and as Tom’s emotions begin to overwhelm him, creating a gulf between him and his boyfriend.
“Please tell me you didn’t just fuck me to show me how much you love me so that I’ll talk to you about my father,” Tom groaned, covering his eyes with one arm bent across his face.
A sharp pinch to his chin. Reese’s voice, gently scolding him. “Of course I did.”
Tom had brought him romance.
What I love is that even when things between them are rocky, there’s no doubt that they love each other. They’re grown men who have developed a deep understanding of one another, and they’ve learned to react and anticipate based on unspoken queues. It’s more intimate than even the sex scenes, because as a reader you get this inside look at how a romantic relationship really functions. So beautiful.
“You cooked. I clean. Go. Watch a movie. Read a book.”
“Take a bath,” Reese murmured, and Tom stilled behind him.
Take a bath mean something specific. Something special.
Five years, and a whole lotta trust, had made a pretty big difference, though.
Reese and Tom both have skeletons in their closets, and secrets that they’ve kept hidden. But I love how they work together to help each other out. Tom’s patience with Reese is a thing of beauty, the way he asks before touching Reese and is always aware of his boyfriend’s limits. And Reese gently pushes Tom when he gets stuck inside his own head, is patient even when he’s frustrated.
In the end, this is a truly magnificent love story. It’s romance at its finest, and a perfect Happily Ever After for two men who really deserve it.
Bonus: I can’t leave this review without rambling for a second about my undying love of Cash and Steph (from The Girl Next Door, Bend or Break #3). Every scene they were in had me laughing, and I’m glad they’re getting their HEA too! Also, THAT COVER THOUGH, holy hotness y’all!