REVIEW: There You Stand by Christina Lee
Dear Ms. Lee,
I’ve read the previous books in your new adult series. Some I like more than others but overall, I have a favorable opinion of them. Your latest, There You Stand, continues the series with an M/M romance. (I guess gay romance is a thing now in new adult? Are we going to have some F/F NA romance to balance things out, too?)
Cory Easton is a tattoo artist who works at the same shop as Bennett and Jessie. Even though he’s certainly not a monk, he’s still nursing a broken heart over the death of his boyfriend three years ago. But the random hook-ups and one night stands are getting old, and Cory finds himself wanting something more.
That more takes the form of Jude York. Jude’s the new guy in town — a skateboarder with a mysterious past and who may have ties to the local motorcycle club. Cory knows better than to get involved with someone who can’t be 100% honest with him, but he just can’t seem to stay away from Jude.
I really liked Cory. He’s just a regular guy, trying to live his life. He hasn’t quite gotten over his boyfriend’s death, but the circumstances were traumatic. It makes sense that he hasn’t been able to move on, even though he’s attempted a relationship or two in the time since. I also thought it was wonderful that he had a great relationship with his grandmother. I never get tired of seeing depictions of multigenerational family members taking care of each other. It’s nice.
I admit I had a harder time with Jude. It wasn’t that he was reticent and aloof. Novels are littered with those sorts of characters. It’s that I associate skateboarding with teenagers, so it was hard for me to picture Jude as a man in his mid-twenties. I kept reading him as younger. I know that’s not fair. There are plenty of grown men who are professional skateboarders.
This leads to my main reservation with the book. Because of Jude’s reticence, I had a hard time buying into their romance. The use of Cory’s dog to keep forcing the two into each other’s company started ringing false to me. You can only rely on a device so many times before it starts ringing false. I understand there were reasons for Jude’s attempts to stay away from Cory, but for a good portion of the book, Cory thought Jude was straight. I was leery every time the narrative brought this up. I really dislike the gay for you trope and there were moments where I thought this was going to be the case.
(It’s not. Thankfully.)
I’m not sure how I feel about the reasons behind Jude trying to keep Cory at arm’s length. They made sense, but the execution made it feel like they belonged in another book. A romantic suspense novel, to be precise. The addition of a motorcycle club further muddled the waters for me. Those guys weren’t the main characters, but their presence increases in the second half of the book and that made the story harder to pin down. I guess I’ve always had particular idea of what motorcycle books are in my head and to see some of those elements come into your college-set contemporary NA series was very jarring.
This might be a reader failure, a misplace expectation, I’m not sure. It seemed like there were three different books here: one about a guy moving on after a loss, one about a guy on the run from his past, and one about a motorcycle club’s exploits. I’m all for blending elements from different subgenres, but they didn’t come together into a seamless whole for me.
I wish I liked this book more than I did. I’m still on the Christina Lee bus but I’m a little unsure about the direction the series is taking. C
Hm, I bought it yesterday – caved in when I saw it on the new releases lol. I wonder if the fact that I have not read a single motorcycle club book in my life would help me to like this one more than you did or not. We shall see. Thanks for the review Jia.
@Sirius: I’m interested in hearing what you think of it!
“I guess gay romance is a thing now in new adult?”
I think new adult is a thing now in gay romance. And has been for quite a while.
I was fortunate to read an ARC of this story and I quite enjoyed it. One thing I missed was having Jude’s point of view, as it would have been nice to know his thoughts. And it definitely had more of a suspense element than I was expecting.
@Christine Maria Rose: I understand why we didn’t get Jude’s POV, because I think it would have made the suspense elements harder to pull off. But I definitely felt the lack.
I tried to read this but it didn’t grab me and I ended up DNFing after about 40 pages. I haven’t read any of this author’s other work so I don’t know how much difference it would have made to me to know some of the characters a little already. But I just couldn’t get into it. It’s heartening to see that you don’t see this as one of her stronger books Jia, because I have others from her on the TBR. Maybe I will have better success with them.
I fear F/F NA romance is VERY far off. All the NA writers I know are doing M/M. We were just discussing the lack of it in a FB group recently. I’m disappointed there’s not been more F/F as well.
@S. J. Pajonas: Actually, there is this one: http://www.amazon.com/Out-Rhythm-Face-Music-Book-ebook/dp/B00TQIML5Y/ref=sr_1_12?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1429837964&sr=1-12&keywords=shona+husk – Out of Rhythm by Shona Husk. It’s a novella but it’s definitely f/f and I think it fits within new adult. I have it on Mt. TBR but haven’t read it yet.
@Kaetrin: Of her previous books, I personally liked All of You and Whisper to Me the best. I don’t think reading any of the other novels in the series would have made a difference, to be fair. Previous heroes and heroines make cameos, but they don’t really play major roles.
@S. J. Pajonas: I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. M/M romance trumps F/F romance in the adult category as well.
@Jia: I’m pretty sure I have All of You on the TBR. Thx :)
Well, I am reading it right now and I am maybe at thirty percent. I am kind of annoyed because it is well written, but so far I agree with you – Jude as an enigma is getting tiresome and fast. I take it is needed for the plot reasons whatever they are, to keep the suspense, but so far not feeling the romance either. I am not tempted to DNF yet, but some more of only letting me to get to know Cory and not Jude and I will be done. Again, annoying because writing is better than many other m/m books I have read, but it does not seem to help the development of the romance.
Just finished the book.
I enjoyed the book, but I felt it ended too abruptly. There were still some questions left unanswered imo.
I would have loved a chapter near the end from Judes pov.
This was my first m/m romance read thus far, mainly because I like the authors other books.