Aldrich Cummings knows he shouldn’t be peering through the window at his hot neighbor across the street, but he can’t help himself. Aldrich has lived a lonely life; he is not good with people, he doesn’t like to be touched, and he hasn’t had much success in relationships. So when he spies the gorgeous man in the apartment across the way who doesn’t seem to ever shut his curtains, Aldrich can’t resist a look.
Miguel Cordero Ruiz is thrilled to be moving into an apartment off campus. As an older student, having spent time in the military, he is glad he isn’t stuck in the dorms again this year. Miguel has heard rumor that the guy across the street is into watching, but he can’t say he really minds. If the guy wants a show, Miguel is happy to give it to him. And when he learns the man is his hot professor, Miguel enjoys it all even more. Miguel has always thought of himself as straight, but some hookups in the military and now his crush on his professor are making it clear to Miguel that he is definitely bisexual.
When the men have a hot hookup in Aldrich’s office, it is just the start of a steamy affair between them. Aldrich knows getting involved with a student is an incredibly bad idea, but he can’t resist Miguel. For the first time, he has a partner who can look past his prickly exterior, as well as his issues with being touched, and actually seems to care about him as a person. For his part, Miguel loves that Aldrich brings his fantasies to life, and that he has a bit of a kinky side under that stuffy exterior. The two men begin to move to something more serious, and are soon falling hard for one another. But with Miguel still a student at Aldrich’s university, their relationship is a threat to both of them. Not to mention that Aldrich still worries about what a man like Miguel would ever see in him. But the passion between the pair is strong and they are determined to fight for their chance to be together.
I picked Now You See Me as my choice for Judge a Book By Its Cover Week for our Reading Challenge Month this year. I am all about the colors and the art is gorgeous. Having read the book, I appreciate Aldrich looking out the window (though in the story he is much more furtive) and overall this one is just beautiful and warm and makes me happy. It very much fits the tone of the story and the book in general.
This story is a great combination of sexy and sweet. There is a lot of heat here as Aldrich enjoys watching Miguel — and Miguel very much enjoys being watched. The men like to play with a bit of a professor and naughty student vibe, with Aldrich directing Miguel into all sorts of things for “extra credit.” (To be clear, there is never any indication that these guys are using sex for grades; this is all a game between them.) It is fun to see how the slightly stuffy and prickly Aldrich lets loose with a bit of kink and some dirty, sexy fun and the guys are a really great match in the bedroom.
What I particularly liked here is how Miguel accepts Aldrich for exactly who he is. Aldrich has had a lonely life and some difficult relationships with men who made him feel bad about himself. He is very touch averse and there are some things he just can’t handle. Right from the start, Miguel completely accepts Aldrich and takes what Aldrich can give. He figures out ways to make Aldrich comfortable so that they can enjoy themselves together, without ever pressuring Aldrich to move past his comfort zone. And with time and knowing Miguel supports him, Aldrich starts to be more comfortable. The title here perfectly depicts the way these men are together, and Aldrich’s thrill that Miguel sees and cares about him just as he is, not for what he wants him to be.
I did have a few small hurdles here, things you just have to go with for this story to fully work. First, there is the fact that Aldrich is creepily spying on Miguel before he knows Miguel is ok with it. And Miguel is not the first guy Aldrich has done this to. Van Dorn manages to make me fine with all this because we quickly see how into it Miguel is. But I’ll admit, at the start I had some trouble warming to Aldrich because of this. Also, we know that Aldrich’s job (and likely Miguel’s position as a student) is at risk if anyone finds out about their relationship. Yet Miguel spills all the details to his neighbor, a fellow student he barely knows. His neighbor, Luna, is actually one of Aldrich’s advisees, so her knowing his sexual business is even worse. And then she gets herself involved, helping Miguel break into Aldrich’s house (with the key they find outside) and jumping into some of their relationship issues. The lack of boundaries here really bothered me. As Miguel and Aldrich get more serious and Luna’s relationship with Aldrich becomes more “friend of your boyfriend” than “teacher/student” it got better, but I still felt like these guys weren’t always making such great choices about discretion.
One last note. I really appreciated the diversity here as we get to see a lot of Miguel’s family and learn about his background. There is a lot of Spanish sprinkled in and bits about what food he eats and some of his family traditions. But I was bothered by the cheap shot “Asian men have small dicks” joke that felt like it had no place in a story that otherwise seemed to celebrate diverse backgrounds.
Overall, however, I really enjoyed this story. It is a really nice mix of sexy and sweet and I loved the progression Miguel and Aldrich have from sex buddies to men with real feelings for one another.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for Judge a Book By Its Cover Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of two sets of 3 audiobooks (or ebooks if preferred) from Riptide Publishing! Commenters will also be entered to win one of our three amazing Grand Prize book bundles. You can get more information on our Challenge Month here (including all the contest rules) and more details on Judge a Book By Its Cover Week here.