Dating Ryan Alback, by J.E. Birk
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: February 20, 2017
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Ryan Alback has almost everything he’s ever wanted: a successful acting career, a dog who adores him, great family and friends, and a life outside the closet. The only thing missing is a boyfriend — but Ryan’s been burned by Hollywood relationships before, and he’s not eager to try one again.
Jason Santos has almost everything he’s ever wanted: a fulfilling career teaching middle school, a house in a city he loves, and parents who support him in every way. Too bad he can’t seem to forget the ex-boyfriend who rejected his marriage proposal.
When a talk show host launches a dating contest to find Ryan a boyfriend and Jason accidentally wins, neither of them expect anything to come from it. Yet somewhere between a disastrous massage and a mud sinkhole, they both start to wonder if this date could be more than just a public relations stunt. But before they can move into the future, they’ll both have to learn to let go of the past.
This is largely a story about trust. Not just trust in others, but trust in yourself to pick the right, in this case, guy. Trust is hard, especially when it’s been given in the past and things didn’t go well. This, above everything else in the story, is what I liked most.
It’s also a story with two really likable characters. I very much enjoyed both Ryan and Jason… just not together. At least not at first. Liking them together took a lot of time. When they were finding the connection and starting to fall, I was still not on board. They really felt like great friends first… not a bad thing, but I don’t know if that’s where the author was going. So this almost read like a friends to lovers story, except that they were never friends before. And even in the end, while I found they had a connection, a deep love is not what I walked away with. So while this is listed as an HEA, it really felt to me like a HFN.
Aside from a few issues I had with the story, the talk show using Ryan for promotion, and the slow chemistry, I found this to be nice. There were laughs and fun moments…I guess it just didn’t knock my socks off, but it was a sweet read.
J.E. Birk has been telling stories since she could talk and writing them since she was introduced to the alphabet. She hails from Colorado, where you can usually find her skiing, training for a 5K she won’t end up running, or watching people run into each other on football fields and in hockey rinks. You can follow her ramblings on Twitter by looking for @jebirkwrites. She’s also been known to ramble on Facebook as J Elisabeth Birk.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.