Rating: 4 stars
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Sophomore: Undeclared picks up about a year after the end of the first book in the Ivory Towers series, Freshman: Uncut. Angel is now a sophomore and being pressured by his film teacher to declare a major and become a TA. His boyfriend Shane is finishing up school and is a few months away from graduation and having to get a job.
The guys are living together and things are going very well, but the prospect of Shane leaving school is a source of major stress for Angel. He wants to stay together, but he doesn’t know what Shane is going to want. And as Shane gets a job opportunity in New York, all the way across the country from Pacific Rim University, Angel is even more upset and worried. He can’t imagine being at school without Shane, and even considers whether he should drop out.
Shane can tell something is bothering Angel, but Angel isn’t really being clear about what. Shane wants to stay together even after graduation. And he is really excited about his film being made in New York. But he also worries about things with Angel, especially when he sees Angel so upset. The guys really want to make it work, but will a separation be too much for them to handle?
I really enjoyed meeting Angel and Shane in Freshman: Uncut and was thrilled to see that their story would be continuing into a series. Angel is from a poor area, only in college by virtue of his scholarship from his amateur film making. When he arrived at school he was totally closeted and very insecure, especially with Shane being older and so much more confident. The first story follows the guys falling for one another and the start of that first real relationship for Angel. I really enjoyed connecting with them again here, and I think Harris continues to really capture that feeling of young love well. I could feel the struggles these guys face as they try to navigate the future, and the changes that come from suddenly having one partner move into the real adult world while the other stays behind in school.
My main problem with the story, however, is that I wanted to see more growth from these guys from the first book. Almost a year has passed and yet these guys are still just as bad at talking to one another as they were in the first story. They are serious about each other, even live together, but yet are still unable to talk to each other. Angel has the harder time, and he is just a bundle of anxiety about their relationship, yet unwilling or unable to talk to Shane about it. For Shane’s part, he senses something is wrong but doesn’t know how to elicit it from Angel (a problem they dealt with in the first book as well) and often pushes the conflict aside. Everything just gets masked over with sex. And while Harris writes amazingly hot and enjoyable sex scenes, I felt frustrated that a year later we are still dealing with all the same problems.
I also found the ending a little abrupt. Suddenly we go from the conflict the guys faced the whole story to everything being fine. I didn’t quite see what the resolution was that smoothed things over and it all sort of happens on the last page.
But despite that I am still really excited about this series and looking forward to the next installment. I really like Angel and Shane and find them a fascinating couple. I look forward to seeing how they navigate the future challenges that they face together.
Note: Sophomore: Undeclared will be released July 19th from Total-E-Bound Publishing