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Review: Get What You Need by Jeanette Grey

Review: Get What You Need by Jeanette Grey

GetwhatyouneedDear Ms. Grey,

Greg London is a gay engineering graduate student who shares a house with three other guys.  The most recent addition is Marshall Sulkowski, a senior undergrad who is studying history while on a baseball scholarship.  As it happens, Marsh is “bi-ish” – “Girls are fine. Guys are better” – and both are crushing on the other.

For most of the book, the guys are at cross purposes.  Greg  thinks he’s such a geek; he can’t understand how someone so hot and sporty like Marsh could want anything serious with him and from the other side,  Marsh thinks Greg is so smart and together he couldn’t possibly want a serious relationship with a guy like Marsh.  In some ways, it was a version of the “big misunderstanding” which is my least favourite trope.   Here, I could understand why they were reluctant to lay it all on the line and state clearly how they each felt and what they each wanted but it was still frustrating most of the time. (I recognise this is a double standard somewhat because back when I was dating, being emotionally brave was really challenging for me.)  In their own ways, the internal feelings of each guy was understandable but it did take a very long time before they actually just said something flat our rather than dancing around it all.

Marsh’s dad found out Marsh was bi over the summer and has withdrawn funding for the portion of the tuition the baseball scholarship wasn’t covering.  Marsh is at a crossroads in his life because of it.  He’s been told all his life he’s nothing but a dumb jock and he’s completely demoralised.  Because of that, I was prepared to cut him some slack for his lack of forthrightness with Greg – but only a little.

Greg is a workaholic, desperate to succeed and keep making his parents proud.  He is also the guy that everyone else comes to when they need help and he basically can’t say no. This means his schedule is ridiculous and he is making himself sick by burning the candle at both ends.

Gradually as these guys hook up, they (particularly Marsh) take small steps to be emotionally vulnerable but they don’t really talk until quite late in the book.  That made it a bit difficult to see the relationship as more meaningful than just sex.  Good communication is one of the hallmarks of a HEA, in my opinion and they demonstrated pretty crappy communication most of the way through the book.   That being so, I thought the exchange of “I love you” was too quick. I could understand each wanting more but until they really started to talk to one another, I couldn’t understand the deeper emotion – or at least, I didn’t trust it.

Because we get a fairly even share of each main character’s POV,  the reader mostly knows what is going on in the other’s head. Sometimes it meant I wanted to flick my fingers against both guys’ foreheads.  Thank goodness Yulia was around for Marsh to act as that person.  Yulia was a little different than the usual “best friend” stereotype because she and Marsh had occasionally had sex.  It is mostly now just a very close friendship; the last time they had sex was about a year before.  I really liked how the story showed Marsh to be genuinely bisexual.  It wasn’t just something that was paid lip service.  It was nice to see it portrayed in a non-erasing way.

There was a bit of pronoun abuse in the some of the sex scenes but they were otherwise pretty good and not so numerous as to take over the book.

One of the things I really liked about the sex between these two guys is the sexual persona Greg takes on.  He doesn’t want to be vulnerable. He’s worried Marsh only wants to scratch an itch with a convenient body.  He therefore takes a more aggressive role in bed than he would naturally choose (which is freeing in its own way).  They both enjoy the sex they have but there are things Greg would like from Marsh that he won’t allow himself to ask for because it requires a level of emotional vulnerability he’s not prepared to risk.   Usually I dislike when flipping who the receptive partner is in anal sex is a big deal in a book.  Because very often, it is presented like a menu choice which has to be ticked off some arbitrary list.  But here it was a big deal. It meant something and the groundwork for this was laid all the way through the book.   Greg is a person who’s life is so closely controlled, ordered and scheduled, he longs to let go and have someone else take charge sexually.  But that’s reserved only for someone very special.  Marsh, on the other hand, had been usually a top but he loved bottoming for Greg. He didn’t have the same… not hangups… emotional linkage perhaps (?) as Greg did, so he didn’t find bottoming particularly vulnerable. I had the sense they would have a very interesting and varied sex life once they got the communication thing down.

Marsh and Greg appear to be opposites in many ways but Marsh actually loves to take care of Greg and Greg needs taking care of – left to his own devices he will burn up from the inside out.  Marsh needs a cheerleader, someone to be on his side and give him encouragement and Greg does this for him.  So I felt that even though the guys are very different, they complement each other well and I thought they could make it in the long term.

I enjoyed the writing style and I liked Marsh and Greg – separately and together.  There wasn’t much about baseball – which surprised me because Marsh is in college because of a baseball scholarship. There was no discussion about any difficulty he might have (or even that there was no difficulty) as regards his sexuality within the team and there were really only passing mentions of training and such.

There weren’t that many females in the story . Yulia didn’t seem to really have a life apart from Marsh and I would have liked to have seen her have more depth rather than just to be there to give Marsh a slap upside the head.

Once Greg and Marsh started talking to each other, things got much better but that really only happened at the end of the book, and up until then the story was kind of frustrating for me.

It hadn’t been the plan to spill his guts to Greg the way he had. The minute he’d started talking, though, it had all come pouring out, and it had been terrifying and freeing, speaking aloud things he’d put so much effort into keeping silent.

A reader who doesn’t mind misunderstandings in her/his romance novels will probably enjoy Get What You Need better than I did.  That said, I liked it and would read more of your work. Grade: C+.

Regards,
Kaetrin

 

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REVIEW:  Indigo Footsteps, Spatters of Red by J.Fally

REVIEW: Indigo Footsteps, Spatters of Red by J.Fally

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At first glance, Carter Cross and Josh Lessard seem like an ordinary couple. They make love and fight, know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, deal with the “in-laws,” and share their life and home. They even work together. One day, they’ll probably die together – possibly a lot sooner than they’d prefer, given their profession as members of a paramilitary special unit formed to thwart a gory apocalypse. While Carter and Josh are used to cheating death on a daily basis, this time the odds are stacked against them. Between a deadly mission to complete and Josh’s grandma coming for a visit, it’ll take a miracle to get them out as horror invades not only a major city but also their home.

Dear J. Fally,

Right after I have read “Bone rider” I went searching for any indication that you were planning to write another book – any book. I did not find much, but I did remember you mentioning in one Good reads interview that you were writing a short story about Carter and Josh and that possibly, maybe you would write more novelettes about these men. If this is still holds true, I cannot wait for more stories, if not, I think this short story/novelette (length is listed as 45 pages) stands alone very well.

I practically stopped reading m/m short stories because I was tired of finishing a story and thinking something along the lines of: I need more character development, I need a less abrupt ending, and why oh why does this read as an outline of the long work…again. But after “Bone rider,” if you were to write a medical prescription, I would have said that I will give it a try and I am happy that I gave this story a chance.

Carter and Josh are a couple, and the story starts with a funny domestic scene showing them fighting over what color to paint their living room.

“VIOLET.” Carter stared at the can of paint on the floor, clearly doubtful. “You’re going to paint our living room violet.”
Josh, undaunted, tossed him a brush. “No, dickhead. We are going to paint our living room violet. Unless you want to do it in green instead, but the only green they had was this weird pea-soup shade, so I do not recommend it.”
“What’s wrong with white?”
“I don’t know.” Josh shrugged and went for the paint can with a screwdriver. This was going to end badly, Carter could tell but he made no move to intervene yet. He did not put down the brush, though. Just in case. He might have to move fast to prevent total disaster. “Don’t know, don’t care,” Josh elaborated, distracted as he tried to figure out where to apply his lever. “Memere wants gay bliss, Memere will get gay bliss. Gay people like color; we are painting the walls. Can’t be that hard.”
“Who says gay people have to like color? I’m gay. I like white. It’s neutral. It’s a non-color. You can paint over any stains and nobody will ever notice.” It also made for a very pretty contrast when he put his dark hand on Josh’s winter-white ass, but this was not the time to get distracted. A horrible suspicion reared its ugly head.
“Wait. Did you go on the Internet again? Did you google?“

***
“Josh. How many cans of paint did you buy? How many fucking colors did you buy?”
The handsome face half-buried in the crook of Carter’s shoulder nudged a bit closer, the first hints of an afternoon scruff scratching lightly against his throat. “Dunno. How many colors are in the rainbow?”
Christ on cracker”

I think readers will see easily that Carter and Josh are deeply in love, but we also see and hear mentions that their professions are very dangerous. At about the fifteen percent mark of the story they are called to participate in a mission – we do not know the details right away, but we know that they will have to neutralize a mob. We learn a little later just how very dangerous this mob of the paranormal variety is and how many of those missions Carter and Josh and their team have done in the past and will do in the future. The story becomes a heroic action/adventure at this point and I loved how seamlessly domestic bliss was transformed into something else, but I wonder if some readers may dislike the change of focus.

“They were, after all, only playing at being civilians. It was an indulgence, a gift for a couple of soldiers likely to die young and horribly. They could’ve asked for a mansion if they’d wanted one, and they’d have gotten it…private airstrip in their backyard included.”
Except I did not feel that the focus ever changed completely – even though the action sequences are given every attention they deserve, we never stop seeing just how very much these two men are in love and how even amongst the darkest horror they try to keep each other safe while doing their job.

Josh and Carter come back from this mission alive, and the last part of the story again shows them in their home and dealing with Josh’s relatives. But I would argue that now both aspects of their lives are shown to be intertwined together, and the fragility of their happiness is something that made me choke up a little. Heck, I cried over their dead comrades and I only had known those characters for several sentences. I thought the overall pacing of the story – the excitement of the adventure and the domestic banter switching up was done very well.

Recommended.

Grade B

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