Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me …
Author: Wade Kelly
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Christie Caughie
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
What if sexuality wasn’t a definable thing and labels merely got in the way?
Nick Jones can’t remember a time when he wasn’t part of the in crowd. Everywhere he goes, he stands out as the best looking guy in the room, and women practically fall into bed with him. Then, after kissing Corey on a dare led to much more and on many occasions, Nick’s “screw anything” reputation escalated, but he didn’t care.
When Nick meets RC at the restaurant where he works, it throws his whole life out of whack. Overweight, always sweaty, gay, and hairy like a bear, RC lives up to his dubbed nickname “Scruffy Dude.” He seems Nick’s complete opposite, but Nick can’t get him out of his head.
Because of peer-pressure and his fears about defining his sexuality, Nick struggles with stepping out of his comfort zone and caring about someone different than himself. If he’s lucky, somewhere between arrogance and ignorance, Nick might find out what it means to be an adult, but if he’s wrong, he could lose everything.
We all learn the little saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me” when we were children. I told this to my daughter when she was three and a little girl had called her an unkind name, and I remember her cocking her little head and looking me dead in the eyes, saying “Well, that’s dumb! Of course they hurt!” She was right – It’s a nice sentiment, but we all know that names do hurt us, and that they leave lasting harm.
This story is about physically beautiful and vapid Nick, who meets and is inexplicably drawn to an overweight, acne ridden, sort of greasy “Scruffy Dude.” Nick begins to see RC (aka “Scruffy Dude”) as a person, rather than as a stereotype of someone to ridicule, and he’s attracted to him. He must struggle to get beyond his own biases, as well as those of his peers.
This is definitely a story with a positive social message – The names we assign to others, as well as to ourselves, can do lasting harm and act as barriers to getting know the real people behind the labels. I like the message, and for this reason alone I suggest reading this story. However, I am less enamored with Nick – he’s a self proclaimed 23 year man who has meaningless and indiscriminate sex with girls in his group of friends, he lives at home and his mother treats him like a child (which he doesn’t discourage), and he’s only recently finally begun to hold a job working at a pizza parlor. He’s not terribly decisive, he’s initially unsure about the whole “I’m attracted to a man” idea, and he hurts RJ on his way to self discovery. Also, Nick’s so-called “friends” are a collection of young people with absolutely no redeeming value – they’re cruel, biased, have no visible meaningful relationships, and are simply awful people. They’re so unlikable that it’s difficult to fathom that anyone could tolerate them – including each other.
Overall, this story is one of a former self-absorbed but pretty guy taking a look at himself and his peers, and not liking what he sees. He discovers some truths about himself, and finds an honest, true love when he looks beyond the social labels to appreciate the fine and decent man in front of him. I recommend this story, and even though Nick isn’t necessarily my favorite character, seeing RJ get his well deserved happy ending is well worth the read.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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