Level Hands by Amy Jo Cousins ~ Book Review by Caroline

25611509Title: Level Hands

Author: Amy Jo Cousins

Publisher: Samhain

Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Rating: 3.75 of 5 Stars

Publication Date: 08/25/2015

Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)

Genre: M/M Romance

Blurb:

When it comes to love, there’s no such thing as smooth sailing.

Rafael Castro is so far out of his element he can’t even see it anymore. Carlisle College in Massachusetts is a long way from his Chicago home, even farther from his Dominican Republic roots.

The only thing keeping him attached to his last nerve is the prospect of seeing Denny Winslow again. The first time they met, Denny taught Rafi to fly across the water, rowing hard in a knife-like boat. Now, two years later, on the wings of a rowing scholarship, Rafi is attending Denny’s elite college.

Even before the excitement wears off, Rafi is struggling with classes and fending off rumors that Denny’s family, not Rafi’s talent, won him his spot. To quash the gossip, Rafi tries to steer clear of the man he wants. A plan that evaporates in the fire of renewed attraction.

But Carlisle’s academic pressure cooker has Rafi barely treading water. And when a family crisis hits, both Rafi and Denny must pull hard to keep their relationship from capsizing in rough waters.

Warning: Contains a surly Dominican-American guy determined to show no weakness, a golden boy who knows his soft spots, some seriously dirty bachata dancing, and an excellent excuse for voyeurism in the locker room.

My View:

I loved the first two books in this series but will admit to skipping over book 3. Amy Jo Cousins always gives us more than just romance in her books and this one was no different. As well as dealing with homophobia it also tackles racism and safe sex.

I will begin by saying I loved Denny. When he was seventeen and spent the summer giving his parents space after coming out he spent a lot of time with Rafi. His first crush on a guy and when he had just turned eighteen his first kiss with a guy. That kiss meant a lot to both of them but it is two years before they see each other again.

Denny comes from money so has no problems fitting into life at Carlisle College. White, blond hair, blue eyes and affluent and to anyone looking in on his life it seems a breeze. Denny is everything that Rafi isn’t – or that’s how Rafi sees himself. Different skin colour, different background and only at Carlisle on a scholarship, which Denny and his family help set up, you can forgive Rafi for feeling less than confident. He is a far cry away from the young lad who wore pink every day for school to shove the fact that he was gay down the bigot’s throats. That was the Rafi we needed to see entering Carlisle!

The first part of the book was great as Rafi tries to fit in and settle down. He is also reunited with Denny and isn’t sure what to do about it. His roommates are great characters, particularly Austen, and if Rafi could just take a breath he would realise that a lot of his fears are just in his head. His work load, the pressure of his scholarship and his feelings for Denny prove to be too much and he spirals out of control with stress.

By the end of the book I wasn’t a great fan of Rafi. To have doubts, to feel insecure and to not be sure what to do is natural. To constantly run hot and cold with a person’s feelings and to push and pull them in all directions just became too much in the end. As the ending of the book got closer I was beginning to feel that we would never get a resolution and at this point I felt angry for the way Denny was being treated and really pissed off with Rafi. Denny was a saint who took everything thrown at him and still calmly stated he would wait.

Links

Level Hands on Goodreads
Samhain
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
All Romance eBooks

I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

Farewell Giveaway
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,

Brandilyn
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