Novellas are usually hit or miss, especially when it comes to romance. The problem all boils down to their length – with something so short, can we really get our full HEA?
Brandon Marcus is smart. As in ridiculously so. As a professor, he is able to both teach (something he seems to really enjoy) and work on his research. Unfortunately, his department chair seems to have it out for him, and Brandon can’t figure out why. Enter Josh Horton, the new assistant football coach at the university. Josh is able to do that one thing Brandon just never could – figure people out. But Josh has his own issues, mainly in regards to his parents and their thoughts on his job and his future. Maybe together they can figure out what they need to do to get their lives in order.
Brandon is incredibly logical and straightforward. He is also pretty self-aware – specifically about his inability to pick up non-verbal cues. He spends a lot of time trying to figure out why others are doing the things they are, and he just can’t grasp it. Josh is also pretty smart, and is your well-built jock type of guy, but his issues stem mostly from his family, and their opinions of him and what he does. He is able to deal well with his football players and their prejudices (against gays, against the geeks, etc), but doesn’t deal well with those close to him. At one point, he gets angry with Brandon because his family likes him so much – as if they like Brandon more than they like Josh.
For the most part, I found their relationship to be fairly realistic. The problems they face (bullies, family issues, etc) are common, and simply make sense. On the other hand, the beginning of their relationship took me a bit by surprise. Brandon has never dated anyone before, and seems almost asexual in his relationships with others. When Josh first asks if he would like to go and get dinner, Brandon didn’t realize it was a date until they were actually walking towards the restaurant. Then he went immediately to the idea that you are supposed to kiss on a date. It seemed a bit of a leap – no thoughts about his sexuality, no thoughts about whether or not he wants to date at all, much less if he wants to date Josh or not. He is such a logical thinker, and I would have thought he would have thought it out a bit more.
Overall, it was a cute story, but it was a little awkward. Much of the story is from Brandon’s point of view, and he is himself rather awkward, but there just wasn’t quite enough narrative to fill in the gaps. It was simplistic, almost to a fault, though I think a lot of that was from the length. It was honestly just too short to really get into Brandon and Josh’s story. They were absolutely darling, though. In many ways it read more like a young adult novel, or perhaps classified as new adult, as there are two scenes that are fairly sexual.