Adam Lansing has always relied on his charm to get by. Sure, he’s starting over—new school, new graduate assistant position—but he knows he won’t have any trouble working his magic on anyone he chooses.
Antonio “AJ” Mancuso is deep inside his own head. He’s cool, calm, and confident. Despite all the friends around him, he often feels like he straddles two worlds. Is there anyone who could love him for everything that defines him—past and present?
From the first time they meet, Adam is determined to get gorgeous AJ to notice him. But just as the heat is cranking up between them, Adam spots AJ with another man. Adam strikes back through a fling with an ex. When he discovers the truth behind AJ’s behavior, he realizes that his magic won’t clean up for him this time.
I really enjoyed this story. I loved how the topic of Adam and AJ’s bisexuality was handled. They were both open about who they are, but viewed it in completely different ways. AJ was a wonderful advocate and his passion for ensuring those who identify as bisexual aren’t erased and aren’t discriminated against was so clear in the story, you could feel it. On the flip side Adam is happy with who he is and doesn’t want to shout his personal label to everyone since to him it’s exactly that, personal. Neither are wrong and it’s wonderful to see how both sides of the spectrum can be right and understand the other’s stance.
AJ made my heart hurt. He struggled with trying to help everyone but wouldn’t let anyone help him. Watching him blossom and start to let Adam in was absolutely wonderful. The way he handled his panic at his triggers. You just feel his strength as a person dealing with all of those emotions. I wasn’t a fan of how he handled his secrets with Adam though. I like how AJ handled himself with Adam after the big incident at the Health Fair. That’s when I knew he and Adam would make it.
I adored Adam. He was funny and so sensual. Yet he was so caring and had his own demons to deal with. I kind of wanted to see him get that past pain resolved a bit more. I liked that he was able to confront his past and work some of it out. Adam is so comfortable with who he is and has a very strong sense of “you don’t like it I don’t care” type of an attitude. I love how his feelings for AJ grow and kind of run away from Adam before he realizes how deep his feelings go. Once he learns AJ’s whole past he’s so supportive and gentle with AH. I love how those feelings just come out of the page.
In general I’m not a fan of the miscommunication/misunderstanding trope. This one was done well though and didn’t make me want to yell at the characters too badly. I do think AJ should have handled things better when Adam talked about some of his insecurities so the problem wouldn’t have happened in the first place. However I do think things worked out how they were supposed to for these two. They needed that time apart to have a better foundation for their relationship.
I would love to see these characters again. Whether some of the side characters like Luke, Connor and Jax get stories. Or we just get another AJ and Adam story. I want more.
I’m so excited for Adam to stop by today. He shares with us a recipe he made for AJ. The story behind the recipe is fabulous too. Check it out and give the recipe a whirl yourself. Read and enjoy!
Hey, Adam here, and I thought I’d share the recipe I made for AJ and our friends. I called his grandmother—she’s a hoot. For the record, she didn’t teach me any good Italian swears. I’ll have to rely on AJ for those. Anyway, she did teach me how to make pasta e fagioli (Americans call it pasta fazool—it means “pasta and beans”) and piadina romagnola (Italian flatbread). Here’s the recipe for the soup. It makes a lot, so bring all your friends. Mangia!
Pasta e fagioli
3 qts chicken or vegetable stock (can substitute water and chicken or vegetable bouillon to taste)
8 oz (1/2 bag) dried navy beans (can substitute 1-2 cans navy beans, rinsed and drained)
1 lg carrot, diced
1 lg rib of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbsp parsley
1 ½ Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 c chopped fresh tomatoes (can substitute 1 c. canned diced tomatoes, drained)
1 1/3 c. ditalini pasta
2 c. water
Black pepper to taste
Soak beans overnight (skip this step if using canned beans). Drain and put in a large pot. Add 3 qts chicken or vegetable stock (or the water and bouillon). Boil gently for ½ hour. Add carrots and cook for 15-30 minutes. Meanwhile, sauté celery, garlic, and onion in olive oil with black pepper and parsley until tender. Add tomatoes and simmer gently until heated. Add ditalini (uncooked) plus 2 cups water and the sautéed vegetables to the beans and carrots. Simmer until pasta is al dente.
Inside the one-floor building, there were half a dozen other students. Two of them were going through boxes; they looked like undergraduates on work study. Two were sitting in chairs in the waiting area, probably to see the nurse practitioner in the back offices. One was flipping through brochures in the rack on the wall, and the last one was behind the desk. When Adam saw him, his jaw nearly hit the floor.
The man—because this was absolutely not one of the gangly, barely-adult boys in abundance on campus—was gorgeous. No, not merely gorgeous. God-like in his stunning beauty. He was practically a work of art. His skin was bronze, and he had a mass of thick, almost black hair that lay in heavy waves. Under long lashes, his dark eyes shone, and his lips were full and pink. He wasn’t quite clean-shaven, and the light, purposeful stubble oozed attractive masculinity. Even seeing only his upper body, it was obvious he was muscular and toned in a way Adam barely aspired to be.
Adam wasn’t one to be overly concerned about the packaging when it came to love—or lust, as the case might be. Hot people were hot people, in his opinion. As long as everyone was on the same page with what they wanted, the particulars of hes or shes or theys were only as important to him as they were to his partners. In all the years he’d been practicing the science of mate selection, he was certain he’d never met anyone who had melted his insides as fast as the man at the desk.
While Adam was busy staring, he stood rooted to the spot, having forgotten why he was there in the first place. The low throat-clearing startled him, and he shifted his gaze from Sexy’s torso to his face. The man’s lips twitched, but he didn’t smile.
“May I help you?” he asked.
“Uh…” Adam mentally slapped himself. He was not one to lose his words over anyone, no matter how attractive. Time to take control back. He stepped up to the counter. “Yeah. I need a couple of things.” He lowered his voice and put on what he hoped was his sexiest expression. “I came in to get condoms.”
Once again, amusement flashed on the other man’s face. “No problem. You can leave a donation here.” He shoved a jar forward on the counter.
Adam almost laughed at the pink paper label taped to the front. It read, Condoms—Tip Jar. Still feeling off-kilter, he snipped, “They’re not free?”
“They are. We’re asking for donations because we offer a lot of free stuff here, and it helps offset the cost when people give a little.” He looked Adam up and down. “I’m guessing you’re non-traditional or a graduate student, so maybe you can spare some change.”
Adam sneered, but he reached into his pocket for his wallet. He withdrew a dollar and stuck it in the jar then held out his hand. The other man reached under the counter and came back up with one condom, which he slapped into Adam’s palm.
“You have got to be kidding me. You want me to pay a dollar per condom? I’m going to need more than one,” Adam huffed. “For less than that price, I could buy them at the drug store.”
The man laughed. “I’m messing with you. You’re being a huge dick about making a small donation to the health center, so payback is fair.” He snorted. “Although, look who thinks he’s such a stud. If you need that many, why not buy them at the store?”
“Because I live in student housing, and this is more convenient. If you must know, yes, I have an important date.”
“I’m sure.” The man’s smile was condescending. “Fine.” He reached under the counter again and came up with a handful of condoms. “Enjoy them, with my blessing.”
Adam stuffed them in his pockets, turned around, and stalked out of the health center. No matter how hot that guy was, he was an ass, and Adam didn’t want to stick around for any more of his attitude. He had a date to get ready for, and guaranteed she would be much better company than the self-righteous jerk in the center. Which, of course, was exactly why Adam couldn’t get his handsome face and toned body out of his head.
A. M. Leibowitz is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. Ze keeps warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing about life, relationships, hope, and happy-for-now endings. In between noveling and editing, ze blogs coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, books, and hir family.
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/UnchainedFaith
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00OIC158W
2-May: MM Good Book Reviews, Book Lovers 4Ever, My Fiction Nook, Happily Ever Chapter
9-May: Iyana Jenna, Jessie G. Books, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews
16-May: Prism Book Alliance, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, The Novel Approach
23-May: Dawn’s Reading Nook, Three Books Over The Rainbow, Bonkers About Books
30-May: Full Moon Dreaming, Oh My Shelves, Unquietly Me
6-Jun: Alpha Book Club, Bayou Book Junkie
13-Jun: Molly Lolly, BFD Book Blog
20-Jun: Love Bytes, Sassygirl Books, Outrageous Heroes
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