Stewart Adam Morrley (Sam) leaves the comfort and familiarity of his home in the Detroit suburb of Southfield for the Citadel Military College. After having been the man of the house since he was twelve years old, Sam struggles with the guilt over abandoning his mother and siblings to fulfill his dream of making a better life for himself – even though he knows he doesn’t belong anywhere near the famed military college because he’s poor, unrefined, and gay.
Angus Conrad McRae III (Gus) is setting off for his first year at the same school both his father and grandfather attended. While he may have grown up with a silver spoon in his mouth, his home life has been anything but golden. Even as Gus heads off to college, his parents are trying to determine his path by denying him his deepest desire of entering the military upon graduation in favor of following in his father’s footsteps.
After Sam and Gus complete their Hell Week, they find themselves assigned to share a room for the rest of the semester. After a rough start where neither makes the best first impression on the other, the two struggle to find a common ground between them. With each of them from different sides of the tracks, they can’t imagine what they have in common – other than the exchanged glances and innuendo.
As the sexual tension ramps up, Sam and Gus find themselves more than friends, but less than lovers as they both have too much to lose if their sexuality is discovered. Yet, as the two find themselves getting to know each other better, the reward may be worth the risk.
In this enemies to lovers story, the author takes two guys from opposite sides of the tracks and adds some instant attraction into the mix. Sam has a chip on his shoulder as large as Detroit. Offered a scholarship when he was a senior in high school, he initially declined because he knew he’d never fit in at the elite military college. Yet, after a year and a half of working his way through the local community college and at the urging of his mother, Sam decides to take the steps to securing his own future by accepting the offer.
Gus’ earliest memories are of his father reading books about the Citadel to him. In fact, he was groomed from the earliest age for this school. Yet, as Gus dreams of a military career – much to his parents’ horror – he sees this as an opportunity to prove that he has what it takes to be a military man.
Arriving on campus, both Sam and Gus must first make it through Hell Week – which is the first week of school where the “Knobs” are torn apart by the Cadre (upperclassmen) before being built back up. For me, I really enjoyed this part of the story where these college students undergo an initiation much like boot camp. Afterwards, the two find themselves assigned as roommates. While the two are attracted to one another, they don’t necessarily make the best first impressions and find themselves barely able to tolerate one another.
What I liked best about this story was that despite their initial instant attraction to one another, it really was a slow burn romance story where the two learn to like each other and become friends before they decide to test the waters with each other. Which leads me to my first issue with this story… it really bothers me when authors choose to have characters engage in sexual activities without protection – especially when it is a story featuring young adults. I don’t care how “clean” they think they are, it still comes down to risking one’s safety based on whether or not someone is entirely truthful.
The second issue I had with this book was that it seemed as if I was constantly being told “Sam said” and “Gus did” throughout the entire story. With the story being told in the third person and it featuring two main male characters, it can be difficult to determine who is doing what without using names – yet, it seemed as if every other sentence I was being reminded who is who. My personal opinion is that the story would have flowed much better had it been told in alternating first person point of views.
My third issue was that I don’t quite know what comes next. Despite the story ending with an epilogue that gives us a HFN, there is no indication that there is a second book coming in the future. I kind of felt let down that we aren’t going to follow these two throughout their four years, so I have so many open questions I want answers to…so…author, if you are reading this – I want seconds please!
Overall, I really did like this story despite the few issues I did have with it. If you are a fan of young love stories, you’ve got to check this one out!
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.