Rating: 4 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Maverick Holms and Duke Warren have been best friends, soccer teammates, and roommates for the last four years of college. They have always been very close; Duke in particular is very affectionate and the guys even share a bed platonically on occasion. Mav doesn’t think much of it. He has gotten used to his physical roommate, and figures as long as no one knows about the bed sharing, it is not a big deal.
Both Duke and Mav are competitive guys, and when Duke makes up a game of “gay chicken,” Mav plays along. The rules are that both guys get as close as possible to kissing, and whoever backs off first is the loser. One day, after always pulling away first, Mav lets things go further to an actual kiss. Then Duke begins to up the dares to more intense sexual experiences. Mav doesn’t quite understand his own feelings, but somehow despite having no interest in guys, he enjoys his experimentation with Duke. When Duke and Mav decide to earn some money by taking some (mostly) platonic pictures for the St8te Boys website, it is actually surprisingly comfortable for Mav. And soon the guys are getting more and more serious, though Mav continues to deny to himself what is really going on. But when Mav he is forced to face what is happening between them, he can either panic, or open himself up to something wonderful with his best friend.
So when this one first started, I was a little wary. I am always a little amused by books with guys who are basically having gay sex, yet somehow manage to convince themselves it all perfectly normal hetero behavior. So at first I thought that was where things were going, but I was pleasantly surprised to see this story was a lot more nuanced and there are more dimensions to what is going on here. Yes, the are still playing a ridiculous game, and Mav is still a little slow to recognize what is happening between them, but it becomes more clear over time how their game is a way to access the feelings that the guys have for one another the only safe way they know how. And that brought a lot of sweetness into a story that could have been all silly.
This is mostly a light story, but there are some nice themes here. We see the contrast between Duke who has grown up with gay friends and a gay-friendly family, and how much easier and more comfortable this all is for him. Mav was raised much more conservatively, and struggles with accepting these feelings in himself and coming to terms with the idea he may be different than he thought, and that people may judge him negatively for it. Anderson manages to create to interesting and likable characters in Mav and Duke and I was rooting for them to wake up and realize the connection between them. They are super hot together, and I enjoyed seeing them experiment and take their first steps together into a physical relationship (though I did wonder about Mav’s complete understanding of how to be a good top with no experience or instruction).
So a fun story, with a nice mix of sweetness and hotness. Nothing super intense but a fun quick read and a nice OFY story. I enjoyed it.
P.S. Samhain has generously donated a copy of Str8te Boys to our Jock Week Giveaway so be sure to check it out!