Rating: 3.5 stars
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I have enjoyed this author’s work many times. When given the chance to read and review The Crush Revisited, I was excited to note that Shawn Lane was beginning a new series. I felt this one had great potential and I look forward to more in this series, however, there were a few pieces of this book that felt fairly contrived and, for that reason, threw me out of the story more than I would have liked.
High school is not always the best of times for many of us. Unless we were lucky enough to be in the popular crowd, our time spent in secondary education was often full of heartache and angst. Much is the case for Brandon Collins. Shy, nerdy, and nearly invisible to many, Brandon sported an intense crush on one of those ”popular guys,” the out and proud Tim Olfander. Often seen shadowing Tim, Brandon’s entire world came to a halting crash the day he overheard a friend of Tim’s joke about how he should take Brandon to the prom. Tim’s response was not only one of disbelief, he did not even know whom his buddy was talking about. Fast forward several years, and Brandon has morphed from an ugly duckling to a successful business man-swan, and assistant manager of Lincoln Hills’ vacation resort. It is at this very resort that Brandon and Tim’s high school reunion is about to take place.
Tim had moved on and out of Lincoln Hills to become a highly successful trial lawyer now living in Los Angeles. However, while he is an up and coming hot shot lawyer, his love life is not nearly as successful. In fact, the man he still sported a crush on had just gotten married. Hoping to put away his feelings for Micah once and for all, Tim plans on meeting some old friends at the reunion and enjoying a week in his old hometown. Little is he prepared to meet and fall in lust for the assistant manager of the hotel. To make matters worse, Brandon feels all the old feelings he had for Tim beginning to rise again, and Tim is still seemingly clueless as to the fact that Brandon was once a fellow classmate. Is this “no strings attached” fling doomed to fail from the start? Or will Tim realize that Brandon is so much more than a one-night stand and a simple “crush”?
I liked the premise of this story. It was fresh and intense right from the start. Both men were dissatisfied with where their love lives or lack thereof were headed and looking for something better. The idea that Tim still did not put two and two together when he heard Brandon’s full name, and that it took his old classmates revealing who Brandon was for him to realize that the man once liked him, played out well and gave the story line a certain energy that kept me guessing as to how Brandon was going to respond to Tim. Their intimate moments were awkward and sexy just as you might expect them to be—no insta-love or smooth sex moments here, making them so much more realistic and fun to read.
All in all, this novella was off to a good start and seemed like a fresh take on an old theme. Unfortunately, it was mid point in the book where I found myself wondering when it was that Brandon had started to become a bit of a dishrag that Tim could use and toss aside. It wasn’t that Tim had changed—he was still the slightly arrogant man who first propositioned Brandon and who was stoically trying to avoid falling in any way for the guy. It was Brandon who began to put aside his own misgivings and allow Tim to set all the rules, leaving Brandon just waiting to be tossed aside for Tim’s more important career. I felt the opportunity for the nerdy kid who always got the shaft in high school to finally get some recognition was glossed over. Instead Brandon gave in…and failed to stand up for himself until it was almost too late.
The set up of the front half of the novella was never fully followed through on because Brandon continued to be a victim of sorts. I had hoped that given the inner thoughts we got to hear from Brandon, the story was going to go a different route. Don’t get me wrong, Shawn Lane does pull this one back in and finally give Brandon the spine we hoped we would see earlier in the novella. But I can’t help but feel some good tense moments were lost due to the fumbling of this plot point earlier in the story.
Also, Tim’s two friends, Lance and Ashtyn were introduced and obviously set up as potential leads for subsequent novellas. However, due to the shorter length of the book, I felt they were really rushed on and off the page, and since Tim spent so very little time with them they fell off the radar really quickly. This was disappointing, particularly as the carrot of a failed romance for Lance and the flamboyant lifestyle of Ashtyn were dangled before the reader without much explanation. I am not sure we got enough time to invest any real emotions into these two men and since I assume they may be the focus in subsequent series installments that is unfortunate.
Overall, however, The Crush Revisited was a good start to a promising new series by Shawn Lane. I look forward to seeing who she decides to focus on in the next novella and hope we see a bit more of Tim and Brandon as well.