Oh, I have such mixed feelings about this one!
I finished River Jaymes’ first full-length novel, The Backup Boyfriend
, last night and loved everything
about it. In fact, its main characters, Dylan and Alec, easily made it onto my “favourite couples” bookshelf and I’ve been recommending the book to practically everyone I know on Goodreads (it truly is a “must read”). So when I picked up Jaymes’ debut novella, Brad’s Bachelor Party
, I was hoping that it’d be just as good. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite measure up to the author’s sophomore effort.
*cringes and ducks flying objects*
The premise of the novella is pretty standard for the friends-to-lovers trope: Brad and Cole were college roommates and best friends until one impulsive, reckless, life-changing moment results in the mother of all arguments. Angry and hurt, Cole walks out of the apartment and never looks back. But five years later, with Brad’s brother lying critically injured in a hospital room, he reaches out to the only person he knows he can count on – Cole. Fast forward three years; the two men are once again best friends and Brad’s due to walk down the aisle in four days with a woman he doesn’t love. And, with impending matrimony breathing down his neck, Brad is forced to finally acknowledge that Cole’s feelings for him (the one Cole’s been so desperately trying to ignore for more than a decade) aren’t entirely one-sided.
Warning: This isn’t a straight – forgive the word choice – GFY story. As the novella develops, we learn that Brad has been bi-curious since high school. After a little light experimenting, however, he decided that being straight was a less complicated existence. This realization caused him to suppress those aspects of his personality and ignore his initial feelings for Cole. That is, of course, until the two men find themselves alone in a private room at the exclusive Honolulu Lei strip club…
Okay, let’s start with the things that I liked about this story.
I thought Cole was great! There’s pretty much nothing better in my books than a guy who’s a geek on the streets and a freak in the sheets. I also really enjoyed the fact that although he’s the type to wear his heart on his sleeve, he also knows where to draw the line in the sand. He deserves more than what Brad’s giving him, and is prepared to walk if his best friend doesn’t man the fuck up. Personally, I think both are the mark of a really strong person.
I also thought the author’s writing style was fabulous. It was loose and natural, and both characters’ voices (both internally and in the dialogue) were distinctive. There’s nothing I hate more than reading an entire book where all of the characters sound the exact same! Thankfully, that is not an issue here.
I think my biggest issue with this story was Brad. Try as I might, I just couldn’t like the man. Nor could I dredge up enough sympathy for his confusion in the face of all the anger that I was feeling over his willful disregard for Cole and his feelings. For instance, while Brad acting on his feelings just days before his wedding seems (at least semi) believable for someone rooted so firmly in denial, it’s still a total dick move. As best man, Cole has been ignoring his own breaking heart in order to do the honourable thing and support his best friend, but Brad doesn’t seem to have even an ounce of the same consideration for Cole. The fact that Brad was experimenting with Cole with no intentions of cancelling the wedding felt uncomfortably like he was torturing Cole for his own selfish amusement and curiosity. Even after Brad came to his senses and the two got their happily ever after, it didn’t quite erase the bad taste Brad’s actions left in my mouth.
Hmmm... I just realized that I seem to dis
like Brad in proportion to how much I like
Cole, so I may simply be experiencing a little bit of a mama bear and her cubs syndrome. Oh well. I feels what I feels!
Verdict: Brad’s Bachelor Party
is a quick story written in an approachable style. If you’re a fan of MM and GFY romances, it might be worth giving it a go (even though I found it a little underwhelming). What you absolutely can NOT do is miss out on Jaymes’ The Backup Boyfriend
. It’s fabulous and everyone should read it!