This series is a guilty pleasure for me. The tales are just so wrong, unhealthy, twisted… But, they’re irresistible, too. Each of the stories features a guy who doesn’t quite know what he’s getting himself into, a manipulative guy, and an awkward, but totally hot relationship. There’s always a power play, emotional sabotage, kinkiness, and it’s always a blast! Tons of humor, some I shouldn’t-be-laughing kind, some straight-out funny kind, some serious themes, tons of tension, some angst, and downright dirty m/m sex, as well as tenderness and love–it’s all there. Each has a straight guy–some who have questioned before, some who have never, not once–and a gay/bi-sexual guy. Each of the stories is linked with the others, but mostly tangentially, and it’s definitely not required that you read any of them in order to enjoy another, but you should, because each is worth the read. Each book has an HEA.
The first two books, Straight Boy and Just a Bit Twisted, are literal power plays. In the first, Xavier is in a position to offer Sage safety while they are roommates in prison. Xavier is smoking hot and Sage is sweet (he’s in for DUI). I wanted the relationship. I thought it was wrong. I wanted the relationship… In the second, Derek is Shawn’s professor. Oh, that is so wrong on so many levels. Derek is dark, kinky, and condescending, but he actually means well. Shawn is smart, but overburdened, and just needs to be cut a break. Trading sex for tutoring… UGH! But, this is a book, so I’ll tell you, you can love it even if in real life you’d be heading to report Derek to the dean. Shawn and Sage are cousins, so there’s the connection.
Shawn has a classmate, Christian, who becomes one of the MCs in this third book, Just a Bit Obsessed. Christian is asked by a classmate, Mila, to be a third with her boyfriend, Alexander, for a one time experience. Christian is bi, Mila is straight, and so, presumably, is Alexander. Their one time ends up being more than once, clearly. This is the only book in the series where there is m/f/m and m/m/f, as well as m/m. It is a gay for you tale where the angst comes from Alexander’s own internal struggle with what’s right, and what’s right for him.
Alexander is cousins with Jared, who is one of the MCs in the fourth story, Just a Bit Unhealthy. Gabe is in a relationship with Claire, who is quite manipulative even though she originally comes off as understanding. Gabe is a soccer star (sorry, English footballer), with a tragic past. A severe injury that almost left him a paraplegic sent him to Jared, the doctor who healed him. Gabe grows terribly dependent on Jared, manipulates him to keep him around, even knowing that Jared has fallen in love, unrequited, with him. Their friendship is unhealthy for both of them, so it really has to end, but how will that work out? And Gabe is committed to Claire, with a baby, so that’s a major complication, too. But the draw, the co-dependency, the love…
Gabe’s manipulative brother is Tristan, who is also an English footballer, and who is one of the MCs in this fifth book, Just a Bit Wrong. Tristan finds himself injured and has to see Zach, Jared’s friend, for therapy. Zach is engaged to be married to a woman, and he’s the head of a large family of brothers. For some reason, Gabe gets under Zach’s skin, but as his doctor, what is he to do? He handles Gabe in totally unethical, but really hot, ways. How he can find Gabe attractive, emotionally, is beyond me in some ways, because he’s really awful, but as the reader, we hear his internal dialog and we understand. Maybe Zach gets the same insight in some way?
Zach has a younger brother, Ryan, who is, honestly, totally straight. But his best friend, James/Jamie, is not, and he’s loved Ryan forever. In this sixth book, Just a Bit Confusing, there’s another connection here from a previous book, but I don’t want to be a spoiler. James tries to be happy for Ryan and his relationship with Hannah, but it’s hard. He tries to find interest with someone else, but those attempts fail. He can’t be friends anymore because it hurts too much. But Ryan can’t not be friends with Jamie. So, he tries to give Jamie a bit of what he needs. But, he’s straight. It’s soooo awkward. One thing does occur in this book that I find troubling and that is the guys thinking that if a guy stays hard, he wants sex, and it can’t be rape, or taking advantage of him to have sex with him. That’s just wrong–a physical reaction is not indicative of wanting. I worry about the message here, and it’s the only time, in all of the books, that I do. Anyway, of course there’s an HEA, as in all the stories, but it take a lot to get there.
It looks like the seventh book will feature Luke, a close friend of Jamie, acquaintance of Ryan, with his Russian mobster lover. Can’t wait!
There’s lots of emotional manipulation here. Humor. Angst. M/M graphic sex, some of it D/s kinky, but not to an extreme. The characters have major depth. The secondary characters do, too, enough to carry them into the next book. It’s really a fine series that I’m always wanting to read the next installment of, and can’t put down once I get it. A five out of five stars for the series.