Mason is a former jock who’s academic career at Georgia Southern University has been checkered by his free-wheeling, party-boy, sex-hunting activities. He lost his baseball scholarship after one year and has been perennially on academic probation. His father is wealthy and a big donor, so Mason’s not in real danger of expulsion, but his dad insists Mason finish his degree–or else. To this end, Mason has sought a tutor, and he’s delighted to find shy, nerdy–but cute–Owen in the academic assistance portal.
Owen barely survived an abusive childhood, and escaped to GSU with little more than a backpack filled with clothes the day after high school graduation. Having no safety net, Owen’s worked hard to stay on top of his studies and fund his education. Meeting Mason in the course of tutoring has been a bit exhilarating. Mason’s larger than life, and sexy as heck. If there was anyone Oven would like to take his virginity, it would be Mason–though he figures Mason’s either straight, or not interested in a dorky man like himself. Owen’s totally jazzed to share a design and management project with Mason, especially because it involves sharing the remote lakeside cabin they have to refurbish.
Within an hour of arriving at their cabin, Owen’s startled to find Mason having a go at self-love, with Owen as his focal point. It’s so clearly absurd that Owen can’t believe Mason isn’t pranking him. Of course, this leads to a heart-to-heart, of sorts, and the revelations of all Mason’s dirty, dirty deeds. Will Owen still want him, knowing how much Mason’s gotten around?
This is a new adult novella that felt more erotic than romantic. I’m totally cool with erotica, but I struggled to connect with either character. So much of the premise was about the long summer of opportunity, yet 90% of the story seems to take place the first day. There were jokes by the characters about Mason’s exhibition reading like a bad porn scene, and I kind of felt that way about this story. There was an attempt to add facets to the characters, but it was all too much. Owen was the most persecuted kid. The most nerdy. The saddest of virgins. On the flip side, Mason was the biggest beck-and-call-boy ever to answer a text. He describes at length how completely indiscriminate he has been about his partners over the past three years–having multiple in a night, or anonymous, or married, or fathers of his friends, or even friends of his father, etc. Pretty much, it read as if Mason would shortly be tapping on the door of any man with the ability to operate a phone. Which again, I’m not shaming the behavior, I was simply put off by the casual over-the-top-ness of his descriptions. Very few people are “The Most” anything, and yet we have two The Most polar opposites. For Mason, it initially read as braggart/bravado, yet he was somehow ashamed at the same time? All while also trying to keep his sexuality a secret from his father? I was so confused. As was Owen. Would he with no experience be enough of a partner to satisfy Mason-the-Sex-God?
Maybe it was me, but these characters read like such caricatures that I couldn’t relate. I knew they were going to have sex, pretty much immediately, and it would be the most earth-shattering, soul-searing sex ever to be sexed. And, yep. That happened. Also, the language the characters used felt really out of context for two horny 21-year-old men in Georgia. There was no Southern dialect. At all. Inexplicably, they both used bits of British English slang, which yanked me out of the story more than three times, adding to my confusion.
I really wanted to like the story. I’m usually stoked for a good erotic read, honestly. Unfortunately, this story had a lot of problems for me that overshadowed what might have been a sweet, friends-to-lovers, odd couple sizzlefest as these guys develop a relationship while refurbishing the cabin. That whole school and work plot disappeared and that took all the tension away from the story.