Growing Up by Tricia Sol (Novella)
Less Than Three Press
Release Date: April 13, 2016
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Growing up wasn’t really something twenty-one-year-old Kelly Alston thought about much. Being adult and independent was never his dream. With the pressures of coming out to his conservative parents and a mean ex, he’d rather not grow up at all.
He hadn’t factored in his sexy, former physics teacher from high school, though; a man who’d starred in his dreams all throughout high school and years after he left his hometown for college. Now that Kelly is back home, suddenly being an adult looks like it might just have some perks.
Picking up Tricia Sol’s novella Growing Up, I was immediately drawn to the amazing cover art and the intriguing blurb. I was curious to see how a romance between a 21-year-old college student and his former high school teacher would play out.
The prologue offers a quick glimpse of top student Kelly Alston lusting over his hunky physics teacher, Mr. Bastion (let’s face it, even his name is hot). The story fastforwards to about 4 years later when they bump into each other by chance.
Kelly comes off as a pretty responsible young man – at first. Academically, he seems to have his act together. Right off the bat, we also find him mentally preparing himself to come out to his conservative parents, after pretty much spending most of his college years away from home just to avoid them.
Cue Lucas, former high school teacher and teenage crush.
I have to admit, apart from their sizzling first kiss and the idea of them together, I wasn’t a fan of Kelly and Lucas as a couple. The story is told from Kelly’s POV, and during a brief but significant period within the story, Kelly’s thoughts become rambling and pretty disjointed. At times, he struck me as somewhat childish. And there are very few words from Lucas at all. In fact, there seems to be very little dialogue throughout the book. I do feel that in this case, more dialogue and interaction might have helped show a stronger connection between the two men.
I was also confused by the use of the word “trigger” a few times during the story. During my initial read, I interpreted the word loosely, because it was used to refer to seemingly positive incidents involving Lucas (a smile, a fond look, a glimpse of skin, etc). But the word was used again later during a hug, and upon rereading the relevant parts, I think Kelly is suffering from some post-trauma anxiety? I’m honestly not sure. I totally interpreted Kelly shying away from Lucas as him feeling embarrassed or even aroused in Lucas’ presence. But perhaps those incidents were actually negative due to an unrelated incident. I feel terrible (and a little stupid) for not being able to figure this out, but I look forward to hearing someone else’s take on this.
There were some fun parts that were very enjoyable, some intriguing side characters, and yes, a bedroom scene that does not disappoint. But in the end, I can’t say I love them as a couple. I felt the age difference was dismissed, and I might have raised an eyebrow at some ground rules that Lucas set for their relationship. Lucas does seem to appear a little more flexible towards the end though, so maybe there’s some hope for them yet!
Stuck with siblings that watched too much TV and read too many books, Tricia caught the author bug by proxy. A closet couch potato herself, Tricia takes up writing in her spare time, in between school, friends and watching whatever new series and movies catch her fancy. She loves to create her own fantasy world with her as the main character, even when she’s a man and fairly new in the m/m scene. If anyone asks, though, she started writing for the bragging rights against her sister.
You can reach the author at patriciasoul34 AT gmail DOT com
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.