Rating: 3.5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Steve loves all things sci-fi and makes a point of going to a big convention every year. Part of the appeal is participating in the cosplay contests, where his seamster skills typically earn him an award. And part of it is an opportunity to connect with a precious friend he made who has since moved cross country. This year is no different. Armed with his finely hand-tailored costume, Steve is sure to wow the crowds. That is, until he gets a load of the absolute beefcake of a man who’s scheduled to go on stage immediately before him. It’s just not fair. Steve knows his short, skinny frame is no match for Mr. Miles of Muscles. But then the dreamboat actually makes Steve an offer he’d be a fool to refuse. Now, if only Steve can reign in his expectations and keep his numerous health issues at bay long enough to get to know the guy.

This is Adam’s first cosplay contest. Since he has more enthusiasm than actual sewing skill, he bought his costume tailor made to fit his massive frame. Not only does he look like a Greek god, he’s got a trick up his sleeve guaranteed to make his first costume contest memorable. But when Adam sees the shy, waif-like man scheduled to go on immediately after him, Adam can’t help but offer to swap places. There’s no way Adam wants to steal the thunder from such a cutie who actually made his own costume. Plus, it gives Adam a way to strike up a conversation with someone who trips all his triggers. Adam may be young, and he may have more muscle than book smarts, but he knows what he wants. And he wants to get to know Steve, as intimately as possible.

From Different Worlds is a mostly light, melodramatic, get-together story featuring a strong opposites-attract theme, and threads of age gap and found family mixed in. Through Steve, author A.K. Williams thoroughly explores the life of someone who’s always felt like they’re watching life more than participating in it. Over the course of the story, Steve and Adam have a meet-cute, followed by an intense weekend of passion; however, the bulk of the book is these two trying to figure out how to build something lasting, while contending with their own insecurities.

Throughout the book, Steve struggles to accept himself and the idea that he could be an ideal partner for anyone, let alone an Adonis like Adam. Adam himself has some similar hang-ups since he’s so often viewed as nothing more than a big, dumb jock. These personalities form the bedrock upon which this story’s sense of melodrama is built. At the beginning of the book, I thought this worked out super well. I loved the energy these two have when they first meet. Both men are sort of like deer-in-headlights shy about saying or doing the wrong thing; they both contend with a lifetime of being reduced to their most obvious physical characteristics. At the same time, they have enough good will in them to give the other guy half a chance, and it leads them into a whirlwind weekend romance.

As the story progressed and Adam and Steve began to learn more about each other, however, the novelty of these characters’ personality tropes started to wear a little thin for me. I think that was due in large part to how character-focused the story was. After the meet-cute at the convention, there were no meaningful outside world events or other specific characters that really push for character development. The story unfolded over days and weeks of Steve and Adam getting to know each other. Yet each time, it seemed like they ignored the reality of their lives in favor of banter and sex. To be honest, it was a little off putting personally to see these two spend so much time together, yet never see their verbal exchanges move beyond what felt like porn dialogue. With one or the other so frequently forcing innuendo into the conversation, it left me feeling like they weren’t connecting as individuals so much as scratching an itch. There just didn’t seem to be a great balance between their physical relationship and their emotional one.

Between the two, I thought Steve was a little more compelling than Adam. Steve had far more detailed inner thoughts on how his last (and only and very shitty) boyfriend mistreated him and his myriad needs. Steve has several health issues boiling close under the surface; he knows that he needs to share what they mean for him as a partner and yet he is afraid that Adam will reject him because of those needs. Even when Adam stays by Steve’s side following a medical scare, Steve still isn’t convinced this means Adam will say. Instead, he doubles down on the idea he’s no good for Adam. I thought this aspect of Steve made him very relatable and added a satisfying sense of angst to the story. By contrast, we only get a smattering of Adam’s own issues with self esteem and a brief mention of his struggles having homophobic family members.

Overall, this book wasn’t quite my cup of tea, but it does a solid job exploring deeply opposite personalities and physical types being attracted to each other. Readers who enjoy melodrama will surely like how clear-cut and consistent Steve and Adam are in their respective roles. If you like couples who can’t keep their hands off each other and always seem to have an innuendo at the ready, then Steve and Adam’s rapport cannot be beat.