Breaking The Rules

1 Star

Okay, this story could’ve been something great. Boy on probation, trying to avoid a cute boy who obviously wants him. Just all sorts of awesome to be had here. Unfortunately, nothing about this really makes sense. Conner, who from what I can tell has never done anything with a guy, quite literally throws himself at Adam on their first meet. Which felt all sorts of out of place. All the awkward, ‘I’m not cut out for college life’, and ‘people are so weird here’, just went out the window because he wants Adam? The level of confused I was by this conflict of character thought process versus the actual action was high.

Then Adam, I dunno. He’s one year older than Connor I’m assuming. He thinks Connor is hot. Unless, as far as mentors go, we are talking teacher age type mentors, just like the Dean said he can date whoever he wants. It’s just odd especially when you consider the likelihood of them having to spend time together, unless there’s some problem, is rare. It’s not like they share the same classes or the same friends. Beyond showing him around and being there to help with stuff it’s not like he’s his boss and Connor is his protege and he has to be on him all day every day. I dunno, it was just weird the whole taking advantage of him stuff. They are college students. One night stands are a thing and especially in this case where he wasn’t initiating it. My opinion here translates to the hyped-up version of a photo being taken of two supposedly out guys kissing. It wasn’t nearly as intense as it was made out to be.

Getting angry over the photo was extreme for all the same reasons, if he was so sure he was getting expelled then at that point he should’ve just went for it, took Connor to his room and had his way with him because Connor was definitely ready. Then, for some strange reason, Connor runs away. Like ugh. If he was that shy, that fragile, and that afraid, none of his forwardness makes sense, which I already mentioned in the first paragraph as a cause of confusion. Even if he made the biggest screw up of all times, after only one day he’s in his car packed and gone. That’s a seriously fast runaway for someone trying to step out on their own. He didn’t even wallow in his own self-pity and doubt for a few days before coming to this conclusion. Way too much melodrama and forced angst/tension instead of organic drama. Then the hero rushes out to get him after the Dean does not expel him because who gets expelled over a kiss anyway? That never held much weight as I already said the photo of the kiss got way too much hype. The Dean’s random anecdote about love, sigh. I didn’t read it.

This story didn’t’ really go anywhere. Honestly, the ending ‘love who you want’ with Connor’s grandma, coupled with the Dean’s revelation, plus everything I said above is the entire novel. And all of it felt cliche’ and done before and, again, forced. No real character depth, the relationship doesn’t grow or mature, it never begins. And the title says it’s a first time MM romance so I was expecting one of them to be straight but nope. First relationship romance… okay. I can shift expectations. Unfortunately, even that doesn’t happen. And one kiss is not a monumental rule break as is evidenced by Adam not getting expelled. A full-blown relationship might have got me on board though but only slightly as I already stated it’s hard to see a problem with them just hooking up or dating for real. Readers are even supposed to hate Conner’s roommate but he gets one appearance and one sentence so that was like ‘why’ as well. He supposedly hates him after one day too. But Connor spent that entire day touring the school and barely spent the previous night with him as the roommate wasn’t even settled in the room when Conner arrived the previous day. So when did he or the readers get to know enough about him to hate him?

And that brings up the other point of Adam being in love with Connor and professing this in the Dean’s office. Yes, I’m back to the moment he doesn’t get expelled. His exact phrase was he’s got to know him over the past few days. Sigh. The only time he spent with him at all, was a minute or two when he introduced himself when Connor first arrived. He lost him during the tour because he was doing his job giving a full group the tour when Connor got distracted by hot guys so technically Connor lost himself. So he didn’t get to know him then. It took a brief interaction to invite him out and he got to know some basic info about him but nothing solid. All in all the total time spent actually talking to him was minimal. Two to three hours at best in the entire 24 hours he knew him. So this comment about getting to know Connor better over a few days was the oddest thing. And if Adam didn’t have enough time to get to know him the readers didn’t either.

Then, what really sealed it, was that with so little time spent on the budding romance as the characters are only alone together for the one moment involving the kiss, I was hoping there’d be more. I was, after all, only 58 percent into this book. But, the book was over. The entire 42 percent which is almost half the file was three or so chapters of the third book of a separate series set at this same school. This book appears to be a stand-alone. I checked. Then the rest was other book and author promo. I am here for selling yourself, but considering how underdeveloped this book was when I got to the underwhelming climax I was expecting the author to finally dig into delivering on the promise of this first-time romance but the book was over. The relationship didn’t even start. To be clear I’m not hatting on self-promo. It’s not so bad having a three-chapter preview. It’s standard really. And then the three or four pages which are minimal of author bio, other books, and website/newsletter info. The problem is this is a novella, and when you go in expecting a sweet short story only to find out that it’s even shorter than you expected it’s frustrating.

For clarity, I went in expecting an approx 55-page long print book. I’ve written one. They are so small you can’t put writing on the spine. What I got was approximately a 30-page book. Like I said on a larger book I wouldn’t have even noticed because three free chapters plus end material would take up 10 percent at best. This means I’ll probably have read 20 to 30 to maybe even two times the page length than the entire 55 pages with promo of this novel before the longer book promo began. Making it fairly negligible end material. For books that barely scratch 30 or so pages, it’s kind of misleading to go in expecting 50 or so and even more so when the guts of the story doesn’t get touched and you have mentally prepared yourself for a few more pages.

So that’s a hard yes to promo but on a book this short, readers will definitely be going into it expecting it to be 50 pages short and not 30 pages short and will probably, like me, be totally blindsided to get halfway through the material and find the book is over. And the predicted bulk of the material is an almost equal length in promotion and previews.

All in all this story was too underdeveloped for its length and was too short for all of the emotions readers were expected to connect with. The relationship in this first-time romance never actually starts because when it’s about to begin the book ends. The tension over not taking advantage of a student to the kiss being soul-crushing was hard to connect with and overall the main characters did not act the way you’d expect given the circumstances especially Conner. This story, unfortunately, didn’t deliver on the things I came into it expecting having read more than my share of short stories. I just expected more from this.

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