Rating: 4 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Stella Huerto’s debut novel, Campus Visit, follows the lives of two young men who find love unexpectedly while one struggles to find himself.
Damian Garza has known for a number of years that he was bisexual, but has never taken the chance to experience sex with a male. Enter Alex Murphy. Alex and Damian have been best friends since grade school. After Alex came out at age fifteen, Damian was the only friend that supported him. When Damian realizes that he only has a few months before he graduates from college and returns to the family farm, he decides that he needs to at least test the waters, so to speak, with a man. And who better to have that experience with than his best friend, Alex.
Initially, Alex is nervous about Damian’s proposition, but has wanted Damian from afar for years. They agree to spend one weekend together in order to teach Damian what if feels like to actually be with a man. Then they can return to being best friends. The friends-with-benefits agreement is not ideal for Alex, but if it is all he can have, at least he will walk away with fond memories.
After the first weekend gets cut short by a family emergency, both Damian and Alex agree to see each other for another weekend. And then they agree to see each other every available weekend before graduation.
Real feelings start to come into play, but neither man is sure of what those feelings are. When they graduate, Damian has family obligations to take care of – working at the family farm and taking care of his alcoholic sister – and Alex will be leaving to work in Europe. Unless these two young men can admit their true feelings for one another, they may end up losing out on a relationship as well as ending a life-long friendship.
Campus Visit is an interesting friends-to-lovers tale about finding happiness with an unexpected love and self-discovery. To say the very least, it is sexy. The story started off with sex and continued along the same lines for the first half of the story. And as it was an experimentation of sorts for Damian, the sex was very creative and steamy.
Vulnerability was a big part of both characterizations. Damian put himself out there when he propositioned his best friend not knowing how it would affect their friendship. His character spent most of the book on a journey to of self-discovery with many ups and downs and the one constant in his life was always Alex. Alex’s vulnerability showed in a different way. Alex has always known who he was. His fear was in knowing that there is a strong possibility that he would fall in love with his best friend and that Damian would only be experimenting and would not return his feelings.
Will Damian choose to be his own man? Can family obligations make up for giving up true happiness? Can Damian really ignore his bisexual nature after falling in love with a man? Will Damian discover his real self? Are Damian and Alex meant to be more than friends? Once the real world and family enter into the equation of Damian and Alex’s relationship, we find out if the foundation of first friendship then a sexual relationship is strong enough to keep them together. All of these questions and conflicts kept me wanting more as I made my way through this story.
Whereas this was an interesting storyline and I did like it, I had a problem with some of the writing. The author had a tendency to “tell” me what was going on instead of “showing” me – namely during the sex scenes. For example:
“He wrapped his hand around both of them and began to move it up and down, steadily.”
“Twining his arms tight around Damian’s torso, Alex bucked against him as his arousal mounted, and he burst into climax.”
These were passionate sex scenes between the main characters, yet the scenes are described in very straightforward terms. I read what was happening, but I was did not feel any passion in the description. Therefore, I didn’t feel the strong emotional connection with the characters that I would have preferred.
All in all, I really enjoyed this friends-to-lovers tale. It’s a great story of discovery of love and happiness. I look forward to reading more of Stella Huerto’s work in the future.