Austin has always hoped something more would come of his relationship with his best friend Vinnie than the occasional hook up. But despite years of waiting, Vinnie only seems interested in a little drunken sex after he has finished a big paper.
When Austin meets Sean, who is posing as a nude model in Austin’s drawing class, it is lust at first sight. Austin can’t remember the last time he had this type of attraction to someone, and Sean seems to feel the same. Austin knows he can’t give Sean his heart, as he is still hung up on Vinnie, but Sean is willing to keep things casual. Yet it isn’t long before things begin to grow more serious between them. Not only is the sex amazing, but Sean seems to really see Austin, to focus on him and to care about him in a way it’s clear Vinnie never has. And with Sean, Austin finds himself being a better, more attentive partner as well. But Austin has always seen himself with Vinnie, and now he must decide if he is ready to move forward with Sean, the man who has become such an important part of his life and his heart.
Love Me Like a Rock is the 6th book in Amy Jo Cousin’s wonderful Bend or Break series. Austin is introduced earlier in the series as he is one of Rafi’s roommates from Level Hands. We also met Vinnie at the same time and learn about their relationship, and honestly I assumed they would be set up for a future pairing. But interestingly, Cousins has instead given them each their own story, both releasing at the same time (I’ll be reviewing Vinnie’s story, Hard Candy, tomorrow).
It is clear that Austin is in this relationship of sorts with Vinnie, but that it isn’t really working for him. They are best friends and have been for years, but Vinnie is only interested in occasional sex and only on his terms. It takes being with Sean for Austin to realize how unsatisfied he has been with Vinnie, and how much more he wants out of a relationship, as well as how much more he can give himself. Sean is attentive and really listens to Austin. He is solidly there for Austin in a way most other people are not. Not to mention that the sex between them is amazing and they can’t keep their hands off each other. But I also appreciated that Austin changes as a result of being with Sean as well. He realizes that he wasn’t really pulling his weight with Vinnie either, and that he has more to give in a relationship.
Although Sean and Austin ultimately get to the point where things are solid between them, it takes a while for Austin to be ready to move on emotionally from Vinnie. He has always assumed that with time, his relationship with Vinnie would grow into more, and he is not ready to give up on that when first meeting Sean. It takes time for Austin to realize that what he has with Sean is so much more, so much better. At times I did find myself confused, however, as to whether Austin still had feelings for Vinnie, or whether he just thought he did. It was almost like his feelings for Vinnie were a habit that Austin clung to, even after they were no longer real anymore. But honestly, I wasn’t quite sure here, especially because we see very little of their relationship. We are told they are best friends and about the occasional sex and Austin’s assumptions of a future. But we see almost no interaction between them on page and nothing to get a sense of how they are really feeling about each other. For a story that is a somewhat love triangle, I felt like I needed to understand more about Austin and Vinnie to really feel what was going on.
In the end this book left me feeling very happy and satisfied. I really loved Sean and Austin together and loved that both men grow and change as a result of their feelings for one another. Now I can’t wait to read Vinnie’s story and see how things resolve for him.
Note: Love Me Like a Rock and Hard Candy are both published individually as their own ebooks, but are also available as a duology called Between a Rock and a Hard Place in ebook and paperback form.