Friday, August 28, 2015

Level Hands by Amy Jo Cousins

Title: Level Hands
Author: Amy Jo Cousins
My Rating: A-

Genre: New Adult Romance (m/m)
Series: Bend or Break #4
Main Characters: Rafi and Denny
Release Date: August 2015
Publisher: Samhain
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
When it comes to love, there’s no such thing as smooth sailing.

Rafael Castro is so far out of his element he can’t even see it anymore. Carlisle College in Massachusetts is a long way from his Chicago home, even farther from his Dominican Republic roots.

The only thing keeping him attached to his last nerve is the prospect of seeing Denny Winslow again. The first time they met, Denny taught Rafi to fly across the water, rowing hard in a knife-like boat. Now, two years later, on the wings of a rowing scholarship, Rafi is attending Denny’s elite college.

Even before the excitement wears off, Rafi is struggling with classes and fending off rumors that Denny’s family, not Rafi’s talent, won him his spot. To quash the gossip, Rafi tries to steer clear of the man he wants. A plan that evaporates in the fire of renewed attraction.

But Carlisle’s academic pressure cooker has Rafi barely treading water. And when a family crisis hits, both Rafi and Denny must pull hard to keep their relationship from capsizing in rough waters.

Warning: Contains a surly Dominican-American guy determined to show no weakness, a golden boy who knows his soft spots, some seriously dirty bachata dancing, and an excellent excuse for voyeurism in the locker room.

My Review:
Aw, I've loved this series and this is another great addition to it. In the last book, we got to see the initial rumblings of this romance between Denny and Rafi. Now this book takes place two years later when Denny has pulled some strings to get Rafi to college with him. And Rafi is still the one who's holding back. Before he was holding back because Denny was too young, but that's not the issue anymore. But Rafi still sees walls around why this romance still won't work, no matter how much both of them want it. And they do both want it, but Rafi comes from a very different background and he doesn't want to rely on Denny for everything. He already knows Denny pulled the strings to get him here, but that's enough. From here on out, Rafi needs to pull his own weight and succeed or fail based on his own merit. 

Rafi's a hard character to swallow sometimes. Pride is a serious thing with him. He's also dealing with a lot of prejudice...ethnic, homophobic, social-class issues...he doesn't want to be the 'hanger-on' for Denny too. That's just one step too far and is the one thing that he CAN control, so he feels he can't give in. 

Despite that, these two guys have so much chemistry together. Poor Denny...Rafi's hot and cold, back and forth is giving him whiplash and I couldn't help but feel for the poor guy. His emotions are taking a serious battering. But I could also see why Rafi was that a certain point. This is where I have to take the New Adult genre into consideration. I hit the point where I just wanted to thump Rafi upside his head and tell him to get over it already and grow up. But he is young...and I think that came heavily into play in his actions in this book. Eventually he does get there, but geez, it was painful at times. 

I continue to love this college/NA setting. I liked the boat crew setting and the interesting group dynamic with Rafi's roommates. I loved that we got to see a lot of Cash and Steph in this book, too. 

I liked the book and definitely recommend this one and the entire series. Each book works as a stand alone, but there are recurring characters that float through each of the books. It's more fulfilling to have read them all, but not necessary.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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