Let me preface this by saying I have literally only DNF’d one other book in all of the history of ever. I consider myself a fairly diverse reader, which is why reviewing takes up such a large part of my life. That being said, there’s not been time that I’ve not finished a book for review, but after much contemplation, I had to give myself a break so that I could explain to you why exactly this book didn’t work for me. That’s not to say that it won’t work for other readers, but well… this one is not my culpa.
Since I didn’t read the entire book I’m not going to attempt to summarize the story for you, so here is the author’s blurb:
When 18-year-old Charlie’s unreliable mother tells him they are moving across the country to live with her mysterious Aunt Evelyn in the sunny town of Surf Bay, he isn’t surprised. After spending most of his life moving around the country with his mother and younger sister, picking up his life and starting somewhere new is second nature to him.
19-year-old Oliver is one of those guys that everybody loves. Most people would describe him as good-looking, cheeky and confident, but when Charlie meets him working as his Great-Aunt’s gardener, there’s only word that springs to his mind….arrogant.
Charlie quickly finds a job at the local surf club, but his initial joy quickly vanishes when he learns that Oliver also works there. From the first moment Oliver lays eyes on him, he knows that he wants Charlie, and when he discovers that he’s a virgin, he sees it as a new and exciting challenge which he accepts, even if Charlie tells him he isn’t interested in guys.
Oliver wants Charlie’s virginity, but he doesn’t count on finding something else along the way… Charlie feels pressure to look after his family, so he tries to ignore Oliver’s relentless advances, but he starts to feel something new…something he’s never felt before…something exciting…
Does Charlie have the power to resist Oliver’s charms?
Okay, so I’ll just start from the beginning. And just so you know, I only made it to the 25% point, so I can’t and will not attempt to give you any information from that point on.
I have several issues with what I read of this book and most of all them center on Oliver. There’s so much wrong with his character so I want share it all with you up front, then I’ll break it down for you with some examples so you can see where I’m coming from. From the get-go Oliver is all over Charlie and it seems no matter how many times Charlie says no (and actually means it, because as far as I’m concerned Charlie is straight), Oliver keeps pushing and pushing, mentally and physically, to the point of assault. After that there are smaller things that I just couldn’t get past. Oliver’s creep factor, á la stalker/predator-in-training inner monologue and pervy virgin-stealing thoughts. He also thinks that straight men can be turned gay—especially if he wants them.
I can’t tell you how many times Charlie actually told Oliver no in the first quarter of the book, at which Oliver forced himself upon Charlie in some fashion bordering on assault, if not actual assault. In my opinion, it was disgusting and not even remotely sexy.
This is just one scene:
He tried to resist every natural urge in his body, but when he found himself rocking forwards towards Charlie’s moist and soft lips, he knew that the urge to kiss him was too strong.
“Stop it,” Charlie snarled through bated breath, “just get out.”
“I’m not doing anything,” Oliver whispered, not taking his eyes from Charlie’s trembling lips, “is there something you want me to do?”
“Just stop all this flirting horse shit.”
“You think this is flirting? You’ve not seen anything yet.”
“I told you I have a girlfriend,” Charlie mumbled.
“And I told you that wasn’t a problem.”
A soft quivering breath escaped Charlie’s. Just let go, you know you want to.
“You’re so arrogant,” Charlie laughed, “what makes you think I want you?”
Oliver was sure that Charlie was trying to convince himself more than anything.
“Because you do,” Oliver whispered confidently.
“Well you’re wrong,” Charlie muttered, “I don’t like guys.”
“How do you know if you’ve never tried?” Oliver said softly.
Oliver watched as a single bead of sweat trickled down the side of his pale face. He could feel the oxygen in the tiny cubicle being sucked up by all of their heavy panting, but Oliver was sure that it was from the nerves that were so clear in Charlie’s eyes.
“Just back off yeah?” Charlie said, his voice shaking more and more with every word.
“You didn’t answer my question?”
“What fucking question?”
“How do you know you don’t want me unless you try me?” Oliver bit his lip again, narrowing his eyes on Charlie’s as the throbbing in his Speedos became unbearable.
“I’ve told you, I don’t like guys,” Charlie shot back, raising his voice.
“And like I said, that isn’t a problem,” Oliver resisted the urge to lean in and kiss him. His lips look like they’d know their way around a dick.
So yeah, that and the fact that the kid thinks he is god’s gift to all men straight and gay (and mostly virginal) is what was most unbearable. I’m not sure what the author was going for. Surely she didn’t think it was sexy and seductive because this behavior is not attractive on any man. I’m all for the gay-for-you trope. If you’ve paid attention in the past, you’ll know it’s one of my faves, but if John is going for that here, she missed the mark. In a GFY or OFY (whichever you choose to call it) story, the straight/GFY character will always find some sort of attraction to his counterpart—friendship, hero worship, hell even a love/hate thing would work. But the way these guys work is as if the author is trying to force these guys together by using Oliver’s arrogance and belief that all men, gay and/or straight, will bow to his will. Here is what I’m talking about:
“Just be careful okay. I don’t even think he’s gay you know,” Porter leaned against the counter and folded his arms.
“When has that ever stopped me?” Oliver laughed, “Don’t you think he’s cute though?”…
…“I think our new recruit might need some help,” Oliver whispered cheekily.
“Be nice. I don’t want you scaring him off like the last one.”
“I might have scared the last one off, but at least I got what I wanted from him,” Oliver mumbled to himself.
Then there’s all of Oliver’s creepy monologue peppered throughout his scenes, and seriously, they’re everywhere. It’s over the top and odd to say the least. If nothing else, it makes him an even bigger douche than we already know him to be. I’m really not sure what the author is going for here, because he comes off so pervy and stalkerish.
Don’t worry Charlie, I don’t bite – unless you ask.
Just let go, you know you want to.
Oh boy, I knew you wanted me.
Charlie is going to be mine in no time.
I’m hungry all right. I’m hungry for your son.
And then to top it all off, the creepy talk of wanting a virgin. Again, I’m not sure what to say here. I’m all for the virgin hero trope. They can be super sexy, but this one is not. At all. I don’t find this kind of talk sexy, I find it disturbing.
Virgins were Oliver’s secret desire. For Oliver, virginity was a sickness and he had the cure.
You’re going to give me your virginity Charlie.
Looking back, Oliver is the focus of a lot of my frustration with what I read of this book. He’s offensive and completely unlikable. I mean there are smaller things, things I would have hit on had I been reviewing the entire story. For example, the consistency is off. The story is set in California and the family moves from Alaska, yet they talk like they are from Britain. But my ick factor, and what truly turned me off, was seeing Charlie repeatedly say no and mean it, yet Oliver still pushes himself on Charlie and takes what is not offered. I’m not going to say it’s a trigger of mine, because I don’t have many, although I understand how it could be for others. Simply, it turned my stomach.
So, unfortunately, from the quarter of the story that I read, I am not going to recommend this book.