Buy Link: It’s Not Shakespeare
Author: Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: Novel

Rating: 4.5

James Richards is a community college literature professor in California. Most of his life is pretty bleak. He hates his boss, his tiny office, his old car.  He fled to California after his cheating partner Austen left him, cleaning out James’ bank account in the process. James is still licking his wounds and healing his pride. He hasn’t been with anyone since is break up over two years before.  But with all that he is not bitter.  The two things James loves most in life are his job and his dog Marlowe.

One day his favorite student, Sophie Winchester, decides to set James up with her good friend Rafael Ochoa. Rafi is underwear model hot and James is stunned that this guy would even take a second look at him.

The young man across from him was…. Holy Jesus, the last time James had seen someone that beautiful had been the night before on his computer, at one of the nicer pay-for-porn sites, when James had given up and masturbated in sheer desperation. And this guy was so his type, too. (On the computer, at least. In real life, James tended to date bookish, pale-looking men a lot like himself, except without the stunning personality defect of owning a dog or having a sense of humor.)

Rafi is sex on legs and totally hot for James.  James is relieved to find that Rafi is not a student, but instead is almost 30, a mechanic, and has a self-described “white-boy kink.” Sophie maneuvers the guys into a get together and they immediately hit it off, their relationship developing quickly.  James and Rafi are incredibly sweet together and very hot.  They are able to bridge the gaps in age, education, and cultural background and build a relationship together in just a few weeks.

James has got some baggage though. He isn’t really over what happened with his ex, although his pride is wounded more than his heart.  He is embarrassed for trusting the wrong guy and for believing in their relationship. James is used to showing his love by taking care of people. He prides himself on being a great lover, showing his partners an amazing time in bed. He is the one that buys the flowers, plans the dates, cooks the meals, etc. And it hurts him to realize that he failed in being that provider with Austen, and that the man left him for someone else.

Rafi worries about James’ feelings and is afraid James will be too scared to commit to him and trust in their relationship. Rafi’s grandmother tells James that love requires you to be the fool and to take a leap of faith.  But Rafi knows James feels like he must be careful with his heart and that makes Rafi scared and he pulls back from James.

I will admit that this part confused me a bit. I get what is worrying Rafi, but we have never seen any indication that James doesn’t trust him, isn’t willing to commit, is afraid of a relationship, or anything that seems to justify these fears.  We know most of these things from being told, not from actually seeing James act on them.  So I wasn’t really sure if Rafi is overreacting, if the book isn’t showing it clearly, or if I just wasn’t understanding the real conflict, or what.

But overall this was a small thing in a story I really loved.  One of my favorite things is the way Lane deals with the racial and cultural differences between the men.  I often find these things are just window dressing in the story, but she makes their backgrounds a key part of who they are together.  While their differences are readily apparent, the men seem to savor them and they become part of their relationship. And I love that James never backs down for one moment at the rude comments and suggestion that somehow Rafi isn’t good enough for him. There is never even a hint that he doesn’t see Rafi as an equal.  In fact, the way that Rafi is a real partner to him rather than someone he has to take care of is one of the things that James loves most about him.

Despite my issues with the conflict, I really loved this book.  James and Rafi are incredibly hot and sweet and fun together.  I love the way they are able to come together from such different backgrounds and life experiences and form such a perfect partnership. I was left feeling all happy and warm and fuzzy when it was over. I would definitely recommend it.

P.S. Lane provides a great short story at the end of the book. Sort of an epilogue but better.  Yeah!

Cover Rating:
I am torn on this cover because it is really pretty and nicely hot.  Love the sexy James hot-for-teacher vibe.  But Rafi is hispanic with brown skin covered with gorgeous tattoos. And this guy on the cover… he is not.  Just bugs me because their racial and cultural differences are a huge part of who they are as a couple and seeing that removed in the cover is disappointing.

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