Danny and Alden are two men with very different approaches to life and love. Danny’s heart was broken the night of his prom when his boyfriend ditched him before they had their first dance, or their first night together. Alden wants to fall in love for the first time, which is hard, when his social anxiety keeps him from ever making a connection with a romantic partner. Danny has channeled his pain into a life of clubs, one night stands, and activism. Alden puts his efforts into numbers, spreadsheets, and old TV shows. When the two of them meet, it’s as if these two wounded hearts have finally found their someone special …
But Danny doesn’t play in the office pool. Alden is an employee, which makes him off limits, even though he’s cute, earnest, charmingly innocent, and open in a way that makes Danny want to reach out and protect him. Alden, on the other hand — for the first time in his life — decides to take a chance. Danny is everything he’s ever wanted. He’s funny, charismatic, compassionate, confident, cocky, and hot. This time, Alden won’t let his shyness get in the way.
Studious is the second, standalone entry in the IOU series, involving two men, one bed, and a happily ever after. It starts as a spur of the moment idea when Danny decides to start up an ad/VICE account (like Tiktok, only kinkier) and picks Alden as his subject. Alden, nearly 30, is a virgin. He’s held hands, but he’s never been kissed. His nerves, his anxiety, his self-doubt and self-judgement always get in the way. Either he can’t talk, or he says the wrong thing, or he freezes up and says nothing. And he’s tired of it. Alden wants to have a boyfriend, wants to have a first kiss and a second, wants to have sex and go on dates and live his life! Maybe it isn’t so much learning a technique or a line … maybe it’s more about finding the person he feels comfortable enough with to open up to.
Danny was desperately in love with his first boyfriend, who didn’t love him as much. The breakup was hard, and Danny threw himself into sex. One night stands, no repeats, no strings, no emotions. He’d rather be held in contempt as a slut than risk someone breaking his heart again. With Alden, though, teaching him how to dance, how to kiss, how to stand up for himself … it’s different. The emotions are coming first, and the sex — for the time being — isn’t on the table. He’s making friends with Alden, and it’s nice. Alden’s nice. His growing attachment, though … Danny’s not sure how he feels about that.
The focus of this book is on the conversations, the growing friendship and rapport the two men have. Friends and side characters are there not to break them up or get them together so much as to serve as sounding boards, asking the questions Danny and Alden aren’t ready to ask themselves. This is a low angst, high fluff, and sex positive book. Danny, once he realizes he wants to sleep with Alden, never pushes. He’s always making certain that emotional connection is present, and when Alden realizes he wants Danny — and only Danny — he’s quick to use his words. When Danny asks him to take a step back, he does. But only a step. There’s no anger or annoyance or hurt feelings; he’s just waiting for Danny to make a choice.
For a fluffy, sweet book, this is a a great choice. I had fun reading it, and hope you do, too.