Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance | Amazon UK
When Kyle DiStefano lost his financial aid, his only option was to try out for the school mascot. After all, with the gig comes a full paid ride. The tryouts were a breeze for him, but with interviews coming up, Kyle is cramming. He knows nothing about football. And then his best friend’s boyfriend, Matt, throws him a lifeline. Matt tells Kyle to talk to his roommate, the school’s star quarterback.
Distracted and irritated after his coach blindsides him with the news that he needs to take ballet lessons to up his game, Dave Masterson is taken off guard by the guy waiting for him outside his dorm room. But after a brief and tense conversation, in which Kyle asks for help learning the game of football, Dave discovers Kyle teaches ballet.
In the beginning, their arrangement is purely business on both ends. Except Kyle notices everything about Dave. Especially the fact that he’s straight. And even that fact glaring him in the face doesn’t change fact that he’s falling for a straight guy. Dave, no matter how much he tries to ignore the fact that Kyle is a guy, begins to see Kyle as more. And then things change.
When Kyle finds Dave wasted at an end of the year party, he blows his chance of getting laid by taking Dave’s drunk ass to his dorm. And then Dave’s big gay experiment happens. But the next day, the last day of finals, Dave is gone. Kyle should have known. Over the summer and the following fall, Kyle does his best to protect his heart from the straight quarterback, but a spur of the moment decision changes everything for Kyle and Dave. The pressure of the team and Dave’s family threaten to tear apart what Dave’s not sure he even wants, but he’s sure he needs.
Straight from the Heart is the third book is the third book in Kimberly Gardner’s Exception to the Rule series. It can be read as a standalone, but it’s a fabulous series.
This book is so very sweet and quite perfect. I loved His Fair Lady, so I was dying for Kyle’s story. And I liked it so much. For all that it was angsty and emotional, it was also powerful and precious. I’m in love with Kyle and his struggle to remain himself, even when he knows he’s following a path leading to heartbreak. His strength is beauty. Kyle is what makes this story so wonderful. He’s so bright and shiny, yet real. He doesn’t fool himself into believing he can turn the straight guy. In fact, he figures he’ll moon from afar. Then when things happen, he doesn’t let himself believe it’s more than it is. No matter how much he wants it to be.
Now, Dave… he’s another story. I like Dave, but I have some issues with him. First, I’ll tell you what I like. He supports Kyle and boosts his confidence in ways that no one else could. Without thinking about it. Without even meaning to. His character is discovering who he is throughout this entire book. His growth is rich and thorough, which I found very refreshing. The one thing I didn’t like about his character was his perceived cheating. And I say perceived, because I was never really clear if he and Lacey were truly together together or if they were friends with benefits. But nonetheless, there is a scene where it gives the impression Dave is cheating on Lacey, without any guilt or regret on his part.
The author did a great job devising this story. Not only does Kyle find a new, unknown strength, but Dave finds himself. But it’s the ups and downs of this book that kept me captivated. Gardner has a way to putting so much emotion and beauty into the written word. I am enthralled each time, especially this one.
It’s no secret that I love a good gay for you/out for you story… whatever you choose to call it. But here’s the thing. I don’t want it to be pointed out to me. Over and over again.
“Hmm, maybe you’re just gay for Kyle. He is pretty cute…”
The idea that it was possible to be gay for one person was just… odd. But on the other hand…
“I think I might be gay for just him.”
“Is that even possible, to be gay for only one person, I mean?”
I loved Dave’s macho, womanizing ways that made him super sexy to the female population on campus. It made him totally sexy to me as well. So when he started to notice Kyle, when he asked Kyle to drop to his knees and blow him… yes, I was all over that. It’s clear at that point that this is part of a gay/out for you trope. To point it out so many times was frustrating.
The only other issue I had was with Matt Oliveri, the other gay football player. His character is confusing to me. He doesn’t want to be outed, nor does he want to “play second string” to Dave when it comes to Kyle. He had a total asshole vibe going for him that I kind of liked at the party, but then when he shows back up, his assholishness is gone and the whole “playing second string” thing has sort of flown out the window. I found his character a bit wavering overall, where I would have preferred him to be a more solid. Actually, I would have preferred him to be the total jerk to be redeemed in a book of his own later down the line. Now I’m not so sure.
Overall, I really liked the story. I loved Kyle. Loved, loved, loved him. He made this story what it was. His beauty and strength made sure the goods of this story far outweighed the meh. I didn’t love everything about this one, but I did love it. I can’t wait to see what Gardner has coming up next.