brave boy coverRating: 4 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Bookstore owner Emerson has been drawn to Kiernan ever since he met him. The hot, ginger Daddy is everything Emerson dreams about, but he can’t help but be a nervous mess every time they meet in person. Emerson’s stutter makes him self conscious and he is too anxious to pursue anything with Kiernan. So Emerson decides to set up an online dating profile where he can talk to some Daddies and learn more about what he may want, without the pressure of talking face to face.

When Emerson meets LonelyDaddy online, he seems to be everything Emerson could want in a Daddy — sweet, patient, kind, and incredibly hot. Their conversations help Emerson realize that a Daddy/boy relationship is definitely what he wants, but he is still not ready to actually meet the man in person. Part of Emerson wonders if Lonely/Daddy and Kiernan could be one and the same, but that seems like too much of a fantasy to be possible. But even as he falls harder for his online Daddy, Emerson can’t help but also feel a pull toward Kiernan in real life.

Kiernan has played with many boys, but he is tired of men who only want him for his money and don’t actually care about him. The sweet boy he has met online seems like exactly what he wants, being a perfect mix of submissive, shy, and full of filthy thoughts that get both men super hot. Kiernan is also drawn to Emerson, the sweet bookstore owner, but the man seems too intimidated to really talk to him.

Emerson and Kiernan have fallen for one another — both in real life and online. Now they have to sort out the truth about their connection, as well as figure out how to move forward as Daddy and boy once it is all revealed.

Brave Boy is the second book in K.M. Neuhold’s Perfect Boys series. We met both Emerson and Kiernan in the first story, Pretty Boy, and side characters cross over in both books, but this story can stand alone just fine and you can easily jump in here. Like the first book, this story is sweet and sexy, with great chemistry between the characters and a sprinkle of fantasy/wish fulfillment. Both of these men are looking for someone to love, both looking for that perfect boy or perfect Daddy, and they find exactly that in a sweet and low-angst way. They men are perfect for one another, and while they face some conflict, it is never about whether they are right for one another. So there is a lot of sweet yumminess here, and if you are looking for that style story, I think this book delivers.

The main conflict here is the fact that the men are into one another in real life, but Emerson is too anxious to even talk to Kiernan half the time. Then they meet online, and totally fall for one another right away. So there is a point where the online relationship is intense and becoming serious, but both men are also having feelings for each other in person, without realizing they are all one in the same. I think this conflict plays out well, and while Kiernan does figure it out first, his reasons for how he goes forward make sense in the context of the relationship and the dynamic between the men. The first part of the book is mostly the guys getting to know one another online, so things are a bit slower, but the intensity really ramps up in the second part where they are exploring their new relationship in person.

The area that was missing here for me is that there is so little real character development beyond the immediate relationship between the men. We learn next to nothing about either of them in terms of their backstories. At one point, Emerson notes that his parents don’t care anything about him, and it felt out of nowhere because we are 95% of the way through the book and this is the first time we learn anything about his home life being problematic. This also plays out with regard to Emerson’s insecurities and anxieties that keep him tongue tied and frozen around Kiernan in person. The implication is that it is his stuttering that is causing these issues, yet we get basically no information about the situation to really explain why and how it affects him. I don’t think stuttering automatically has to lead to trauma, but since it is presented as the root of all of Emerson’s issues, I felt like we needed a better understanding of how it has affected him.

In the end, this is a sweet, mushy story about two kind men who fall hard for one another. It is low angst and really a chance to see these guys be perfect for one another and find their happiness, with a nice dose of heat thrown in. Sometimes this is exactly the type of story I crave, and Neuhold delivers. We also get a nice sense of found family among the larger group, as well as some teasers for the next book, which definitely has me intrigued, so I will be eagerly looking forward to that story.

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