Two years ago, Mac met Gideon at a party the start of freshman year. Mac thought there was great chemistry and he was reading all the signs correctly, but when Mac kissed Gideon, Gideon freaked out and ran away. Now it is two years later and they haven’t spoken a word to each other after Gideon refused to even be friends. But Gideon needs a roommate and Mac needs a place to live, and the guys decide to give it a shot.
Things are kind of rough at first. Gideon is a total neat freak, and Mac is anything but tidy. And there is clear tension between them for how things went down two years before. But as the guys settle in as roommates, they slowly begin to become friends. They bond over their recent breakups and start to share more about themselves and their families during late night mac and cheese sessions. Mac has a bad history with parents who rejected him as a teen. And Gideon places crazy pressure on himself to be the “good son,” sacrificing his own happiness to avoid rocking the boat with his family. So they both have some issues they are dealing with and share with one another.
It turns out the chemistry that was between them as freshman is still there now, and the guys begin hooking up, with Gideon experimenting with men for the first time. Mac knows he should not fall for Gideon, who still claims he is straight, but his feelings are growing stronger. Now the guys have to figure out if there can be a real relationship between them, and if Gideon will be brave enough to reach for what he wants with Mac despite how others may feel.
Out of My Mind is the third book in A.J. Truman’s Browerton University series, however this story totally stands alone. While there were a couple of small cameos from other series characters, the connections are really the shared world, and you can easily read this one without having read the first two.
Ok, so this story started out well for me as the set up is totally my catnip. Young love, college age guys, roommates, and a twist of enemies to lovers at the start. We get to see the initial meeting and are in Mac’s POV as he tests out his flirting and thinks Gideon is interested, only to have it all go bad. Then we pick up two years later, both of these guys having had relationships that just ended, and suddenly they are face to face again. It takes a little bit for the guys to settle in together, but their awkwardness is not prolonged and they begin to build a solid friendship. For Mac, the attraction is still there, but he keeps telling himself Gideon is straight. But this time, despite Gideon still claiming not to be gay, he is interested in some experimentation. So I enjoyed this part as the guys get to know each other better and start having some hot hookups.
Where I ran into trouble is that I never quite found Gideon very likable, and the longer they continue having sex while he claims to be straight, the less appealing I found him. I have no patience for the guy who invites himself along to a gay bar only to be sure to tell everyone he meets that he is straight. Or for a guy who thinks rimming is ok (just like going down on a girl!), but no one better touch him down there because THAT would be too gay. Even more so when we see how easily Gideon lies about everything, so concerned with keeping up appearances that he just continually says what people want to hear. We see this with the girls he dates who he pretends to care about when it is clear he doesn’t. But it mostly comes through with his mother. After losing his father as a child, Gideon has taken it upon himself to be the good child, the one who falls in line, especially with his rebellious older brother. So he just hides his true self and lies easily over anything and everything to avoid rocking the boat. Part of my issue is that I felt like we are just told about this fear of people’s opinions, but it seems very contradictory to the self confident guy we see throughout most of the book. However, Truman does do a good job showing us how this behavior has become ingrained in Gideon over the years, doing and saying what needs to be done to keep the peace. But honestly, it all just made him a little too unlikable to me, and these feelings continued through a lot of the book.
I think Truman does a nice job here by letting this all boil over early enough that there are consequences for Gideon’s behavior. Without that, I would have had a hard time being invested in these guys at all. I do feel like Gideon’s change of heart happens suddenly and then everything turns around almost immediately. I would have liked more time to see how he comes to his realizations and how it all plays out in his mind. But I do feel like we get time for Gabriel to redeem himself and for things to build again between the guys in a way that makes it all work and tie up nicely in the end.
So in the end this story pulled together well and I enjoyed this tale of young love. Mac, in particular, is very appealing and there are some nice side characters that round things out. I had trouble with Gabriel at times, but overall the book worked for me and I think it is an enjoyable story of coming of age and figuring yourself out, with a nice dose of sexiness and young love built in. This is a fun series and I have enjoyed all three books so far. It seems there is a fourth coming early next year so I am looking forward to continuing with the series.