Author: Alex Gabriel
Publisher: Self Published
Cover Artist: Ethiriel
Rating: 3.75 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 12/22/2014
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Bisexual, Contemporary, Gay Romance
Losing is a thing Japanese pop star Ryuu Shiwasuda does not do – certainly not gracefully. Image is everything to hot-headed Ryuu. Sure, his macho bluster is only a cover for shyness and social awkwardness, but he takes it (and himself) very seriously.
So when gratingly cheerful punster Hiro Takahashi delivers the ultimate insult of letting Ryuu win at a video game, Ryuu is cut to the quick, and vows swift vengeance. Can’t be too hard to beat a dork like Hiro, right?
Wrong. As Ryuu chases after his elusive victory, he’s forced to add more and more items to the list of “things to beat Hiro at” – and is shocked to find that Hiro’s quirky charm is sparking never-before felt desires in him.
Ryuu’s life and career have no place for a male lover. But he’s already in too deep. Can he risk going all in? And what does he stand to lose if he doesn’t?
I was originally going to review each volume individually because they were published that way, but in my opinion this needs to be read as a set. If I were to review each volume on its own, I would not be able to be very positive as the start and end of each step is not clearly defined (other than by the title being thrown in there) and each volume felt incomplete and ended on a cliffhanger of sorts. At the end of Volume I, I was more confused than anything else and I honestly didn’t know if I wanted to keep reading this trilogy. It was not until Volume II that I started to see what the author was trying to accomplish and not until Volume III that I engaged enough to NEED to read to the end. So therefore, I am going to caution readers not to read these volumes on their own.
In terms of romance, I felt that this trilogy was well done, for the most part. These men started out as associates and somewhat rivals, transitioned to friendship, transitioned to friends with benefits, and then transitioned to lovers in love. It was a slow process and it was not always pretty or easy. These men were not free with their emotions or with the thoughts in their heads so there were many instances of miscommunication leading to heartbreak. But in the end, I understood the progression this relationship took and I wanted a HEA for Hiro and Ryuu. I was emotional for and with them and as totally invested in their romance.
Ryuu’s journey of self discovery was very well thought out and presented to the reader. I totally understood his character as he started to understand himself and his evolving sexuality. I felt for him and along with him as he opened his mind to loving a man, as he determined what that meant for himself, as he determined what that meant for his career, and as he determined how to handle all of that. His growth process was ugly. He was scared at times. He was confused and he put his foot in his mouth and made bad decisions left and right. But his heart was in the right place and eventually he got his head out of his ass. This story ended in a good place, but is obviously not the end of Ryuu’s journey. He will mess up again and he will need to adjust to more uncomfortable situations. I wish the author would have broached the coming out subject, because to me this story felt incomplete without it, but I am not sure the time period or the culture supported that happening. So in the end, be prepared to feel a bit let down with how it all turns out.
I also felt like there was a huge component missing in this story, Hiro’s POV. Yes, it was great that I got to see Ryuu learn Hiro and I learned Hiro right along side him, but I wanted Hiro’s side of things. Because honestly, sometimes I hated Ryuu and did not understand why Hiro continued to let Ryuu walk all over him. And even though Hiro EVENTUALLY spoke up, it felt like he only said SOME of what he was holding back and not all of it. I LOVED these men together, but I WANTED more from Hiro’s perspective.
For me, this trilogy was scattered and too long. It was full of many scenes that I skimmed because I did not understand their pertinence to the story or sometimes I just didn’t understand where the scene came from or what was happening. These three stories probably could have been condensed into one long novel and focused more on the meat of thing, the romance if some of the extras had been removed. For me, I kept reading for Hiro and Ryuu with the hopes that Ryuu would grow up, Hiro would speak up, and they would announce their love for all to see and live HEA. THAT was what I read for. THAT was what kept me on the edge of my seat. THAT is what moved me through all 3 volumes. But in the end, there was too much time devoted to other stuff that I never got to see all my desires manifest, so I felt let down by the ending.
Overall, I enjoyed this trilogy and I LOVED the romance. I LOVED the promise. I just wish things would have been presented differently and ended differently. That being said, these were my desires and you should read this one and decide for yourself how you feel. Because this is an enjoyable read and a look into a culture many are not familiar with. I would recommend this one for anyone looking for something unique to read.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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