Summer Hemlock is an alumnus of Albin Academy, and he crushed on Professor Fox Iseya during all of his years there. Now, because his mother is getting older and needs some help around the house, Summer has returned to his hometown… and to Albin Academy as Professor Iseya’s TA. Summer is almost painfully shy and socially awkward, and he’s nervous about working for Fox.
Fox Iseya is an intimidating figure. He comes across as stiff, detached, and unapproachable, and when Summer arrives at Albin to be his TA, Fox becomes uncomfortable with the attention Summer devotes to him. One day, Fox challenges the shy Summer to do something brave every day, and is surprised that the first brave thing Summer does is confess his lifelong crush. Fox is even more surprised when Summer kisses him and proposes his reward for his daily bravery would be another kiss…one kiss…every day.
Soon, the kisses turn into something more, and Summer and Fox’s relationship begins to turn romantic. It’s not that simple, though. Fox is still in mourning from losing his beloved wife to a car accident years ago, and he’s not sure if he’s ready to let that grief (and guilt) go. Also, he’s never imagined himself as gay, so his feelings for Summer are confusing.
Now, the men must decide if they can get past that grief and confusion and help each other to be brave.
I love May/December love stories. They’ve always appealed to me, so when I read the blurb for Just Like That, I grabbed it up. I have to say, at first, I had a difficult time with it. It felt as if it was moving at a snail’s pace, and there was nothing particularly interesting happening. I actually put it down for several days, then came back to it. You guys, I wish I’d have never put it down because it turned into fantastic book! While the first half dragged along, the second half was amazing. I’m so happy with it, and I was very moved.
I’d like to start with Summer and Fox. I admit, I didn’t have much of a connection to either of them at the beginning, but by the end, I was in love with both of them. I felt Summer’s shyness and social awkwardness. At one point, he must deliver the lecture, and he can barely speak or even look at the class. That’s exactly what happens to me if I’m expected to speak in front of a group of people. This did leave me with of of the few of the issues I had with the story. I had a hard time reconciling Summer’s painful shyness with the almost brazen way he acts with Fox. He was so brave in confessing his feelings. In fact, he was occasionally downright pushy. Summer wanted those kisses, and he was going to get them come hell or high water. I think that was an interesting choice by the author. Fox’s feelings for Summer were confusing and somewhat frustrating. Does he have feelings for Summer? Can he get over his grief? Is he gay or bi? Will he or won’t he? Those questions are part of what dragged. Still, Fox tore at my heart. His grief was almost a character unto itself because it was always so present.
Next, I want to talk about the McCade’s writing style. It was damn near poetry. The details provided made Just Like That play like a movie in my head. I could see their faces. I could feel their agony. There was such beauty in every sentence. For example:
“He loved this difficult, strange man of subtle whims and irascible tempers, this quiet creature who tried to be a statue of graven stone but was instead all steel and sharp edges, and every time Summer’s heart bled with the cuts it only filled that much deeper with the slow-growing love he hadn’t even realized was creeping up on him with every day, every kiss that made him hope more and more that Fox could ever…Could ever feel something for him.”
The absolute ache in those words destroyed me.
The chemistry Summer and Fox share was palpable. Their pull toward each other was so obvious and deep. To me, it actually burned. Their first sex scene was so hot (and very nearly filthy), but it was actually beautiful. I used the word “poetic” already, but that’s pretty much the only word that comes to me. Listen to this:
“Then weight–God, he loved Fox’s weight atop him, loved those moments when Fox lost control and pinned him to the desk or against a wall, loved this moment when his world narrowed down to heat and hardness moving over him with absolute dominance and control, Fox settled between his legs and the wet rasp of cloth to cloth, cock to cock, fire to fire as Summer arched, writhed, surrendered himself to the feeling of Fox crushing him with the caged power writhing under that taut skin.”
And it goes on. The entire scene is a bit long, but every single line was perfection. It needed to be long to capture all the feelings the men shared with one another.
After that, the book begins to move rather quickly. There was some…conflict? Fox battled with himself over Summer, the way his wife died, and the guilt he felt. There was also an action scene that kept me on the edge of my seat. Of course, there’s the HEA. After everything they had gone through, Summer and Fox deserved it. It brought everything together without being too wordy, and it completely satisfied me.
You guys, I cannot recommend Just Like That, enough. This is a fantastic way to begin a new series, and I cannot wait until the next installment. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up.