Rating: 4.5 stars
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Length: Novel

Quinn Maloney is stunned when, after 10 years together, he learns his partner Peter is leaving him.  Quinn has known things have been a bit off between them for a while, but he is shocked to find out not only is Peter leaving, but he is going to marry a woman and is soon to be a father.  It is even more insulting that Peter claims that he was never actually gay, that aside from sex with Quinn all this time, he is actually straight.  Now months have passed and it is time for the baby’s baptism and Quinn has been asked to be a godparent. Although he still feels angry and betrayed by Peter, Peter’s parents and siblings have become like family to Quinn and he still wants to be a part of their lives.

For years Quinn helped Peter keep his closeted secrets.  He has been polite and gone along with the illusion, never really talking about their relationship. And now that Peter is married, everyone is pretending like his years with Quinn never happened and Peter’s new wife Chrissy has no idea that they were ever together.  Quinn decides that bringing a date to the baptism that will not only make Peter jealous, but also make it perfectly clear that Quinn is gay, will shake things up just enough to give him some peace of mind. When he meets Eli Wright at a club, he is just what Quinn is looking for. Young, hot, tough, and independent, Eli attracts a lot of attention wherever he goes, especially in his black nail polish, mesh shirt, and black eyeliner.

Although Quinn just intends to ask Eli along to the baptism, the guys instead have a night of hot passion, fueled by both their strong natures and a shared Daddy kink.  When Quinn asks Eli to come with him to the ceremony, Eli agrees.  But what was supposed to be just one date and some fun turns into something more. Both men find themselves drawn to one another. After living a bland existence for years, just going with the flow, Quinn finds himself energized by the younger man’s zest for life.  Eli is full of energy and excitement and brings color to Quinn’s boring world.  And Quinn is just what Eli is looking for. He is dominant and strong in bed, exactly what turns Eli on.  But he is also a rock, confident and secure and bringing comfort to the craziness of Eli’s life.  But Quinn has a lot of baggage by way of his adopted family and his attempts to please them by going along with the charade of Peter’s past.  And after being burned by Peter, Quinn has difficulty trusting in a new relationship, especially since Eli has been living day to day for years and has a hard time planning for the future.  And Eli has learned self-preservation over the last 5 years after being kicked out of his home. He is cautious about believing in anything long term and Quinn’s reservations make him even more anxious.  The two men are definitely building something real between them, but they both need to trust in one another if they are going to make their relationship work.

I just adore K.A. Mitchell’s writing and I am embarrassed to say I left this one languishing in my TBR pile for far too long.  I just loved this story and it pushed so many of my good buttons.  First off, I just adored Eli. We first meet him in Bad Company, the first book in Mitchell’s Bad in Baltimore series, as the friend and former sex buddy of one of the MCs.  I loved him there is all his fiesty, eye linered glory and he continues to be a great character here.  Eli is so strong and independent and a little prickly, having made his way on his own for so long. He is used to living day by day, thinking of the future being difficult when finding a place to sleep is often a challenge.  Yet he is also so vibrant and full of life and energy, exuding sexuality and vitality.  It is easy to see why Quinn is so drawn to him from the start.  I found Quinn quite likeable too.  He is more solid and steady and used to going along with what is expected.  I loved seeing how Eli just lights him up and opens Quinn to seeing the world a different way. Yet he is also strong and steady and dependable in a way that Eli really needs.  I loved this passage where Quinn suddenly realizes how Eli makes him feel:

For a second, Quinn thought he was dropping dead. A heart attack at thirty-five, even younger than his mom’s dad. His chest was too tight. For blood. For breath. For everything he was trying to hold onto. Then something snapped, and if he was dying, goddamn, it felt good. Almost as good as coming because everything he’d kept wound so fucking tight was free. Anger and want and pain.

And the one person who might be able to understand it, might be able to take it and give it back just as strong, stood right in front of him. …

Quinn kissed him, nothing held back, nothing in reserve. He slammed Eli up against the wall in that tiny space between the door and the stairs and let everything go. Eli’s fingers caught in Quinn’s hair, pulling hard enough to sting before Eli hiked a leg around Quinn’s hip and kissed him back, wet and open and almost as desperate.

It was like The Wizard of Oz, instant beautiful color, only Quinn had been living in worse than black-and-white Kansas. He’d been trapped in a monochromatic world of beige, of nice, of going with the flow, not making waves. Eli was the whole super-sized box of crayons, with no rules about staying in the lines.

Which also brings me to my second point, which is oh my gosh are these guys hot together.  Mitchell writes scorching sex scenes and this book was no exception.  Quinn and Eli burn up the page and the passion and intensity between them in just amazing.  I worried at first about the Daddy kink.  There is not much, but it is definitely there, and this isn’t usually my thing.  But it totally works here in the dynamic between these two men.  It never felt creepy or weird to me, just a natural expression of their personalities and the mutual strength between them. Even if this isn’t your thing, I urge you to give it a try because these guys are insanely hot together.

My only complaint is that I had a hard time wrapping my head around what was going on with Peter’s family.  I totally understand Quinn’s reasons for wanting to be a part of their lives.  He had no family of his own and for 10 years these people welcomed him into their lives and made him part of their own family.  And they continue to love and care about him.  And although it is clear that the forced lie and pretending nothing happened between he and Peter is bad for Quinn, I get why he has a hard time distancing himself from them.  But I just found myself confused about what was going on.  At first I thought Peter was so closeted that no one knew the guys were together. But it is clear from the way his family treats Quinn (including Peter’s sister calling Quinn her ex brother-in-law), that they all know these guys were together.  But I am not clear if it was out in the open, or more of a don’t ask, don’t tell thing.  And now everyone is pretending it never happened for the sake of Peter and his new wife. But who does Chrissy think Quinn is to Peter? Peter comes to family holidays, serves as an attendant at their wedding, is godfather to their son.  She doesn’t wonder how he is connected to Peter? The men barely speak now that they have broken up, she can’t possibly think they are best friends.  And if Quinn doesn’t want to hurt the family, bringing Eli along to intentionally rock the boat and force them to confront the “gay elephant in the room” doesn’t seem like the way to do that.  In the end, I am not sure the details really matter.  But these relationships form the set up for the book as well as serving as a key point of conflict between Eli and Quinn. So trying to puzzle it all out became a distraction for me several times throughout the story.

Despite this, I just adored Bad Boyfriend.  It is hot and sexy, as well as sweet and romantic. I loved seeing these two different guys sweep each other off their feet, each finding love when they hadn’t dared hope for more than a night of fun.  I love Mitchell’s writing and she really does a fabulous job with this one.  I would definitely recommend it.

Cover Review: I really like this one because the guy on the right just screams Eli to me.  The guys actually look like they are described, which is oh so rare.  Great job.

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