Cam and Jude are roommates in college and have been for the past two years. It’s senior year and they are good friends. Both men are bisexual, and while Jude usually has long-term relationships, it’s unlikely for Cam to spend more than a night with the same partner.
Cam had a boyfriend once, back in high school, but Liam didn’t want to come out. More troubling was that they were teammates in track and when Cam was nearly killed in a car wreck, Liam didn’t even come to the hospital. Liam ghosted him, and Cam was devastated. So, he doesn’t want to catch feelings for anyone who could hurt him like Liam did.
Cam and Jude have never hooked up, but one day Cam arrives in their little apartment/dorm and catches Jude jerking off in their bathroom. Cam’s horrified by the embarrassment, and wildly turned on. He’s such good friends with Jude; Cam doesn’t want to upset that, but now Cam’s a bit obsessed with Jude and the possibilities of a bit of release with such a trusted friend. And, Jude’s amenable. It’s mostly mutual masturbation, but their friendly intimacy also stretches to other activities, not all of them sexual.
Cam’s best gal-pal is sure that Cam is going to screw this up, and she’s right. Because Cam’s so focused on this experience being simply “friends with benefits” that he can’t fathom how attached Jude may be to him right now.
Cam tells this story, and it’s clear that he’s still rather emotionally immature. His high school heartbreak has infected his entire life and Cam spends weeks and months convincing himself out of the obvious—that he’s totally gone over Jude, who loves him completely. To be clear, there is a LOT of sexytimes between Jude and Cam. And, they spend nights in each other’s beds. And they hang out a lot without even having sex. For me, the prose got a little silly with Cam’s constant and repetitive internal protestations. These are made in the face of Cam recognizing and appreciating Jude’s steadfast and supportive love. I struggled, really, to stay in the moment with Cam, because he’s completely obtuse about the growth of his relationship with Jude, to the point where it becomes complacent and hurtful. That smacked of an immaturity I don’t relish in my MCs, even if this is New Adult. Jude was Cam’s friend, long before they ever became lovers, and Cam’s handling of the big conversations Jude initiated was at best obstructionist, and very definitely bordered on callous.
The pace of the story seemed exceptionally slow as a result, and I got bored with Cam’s unnecessary angst. I’m just not a fan of characters who get in their own way so much. This was especially true after Jude stood up for Cam against Liam on a cozy holiday trip to Cam’s home. It still took some doing—and real talk from Jude and Cam’s bestie—to get Cam to acknowledge what a selfish jerk he was being. I was glad Cam saved himself from his idiotic isolation, but by then I was almost thinking Jude could do way better. It’s an HEA, and it’s chock full of angst and sexytimes, not always coincidental. If you are a fan of NA friends-to-lovers romance, you might like this one.