Title: Block and Strike
Author: Kelly Jensen
My Rating: A-
Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Main Characters: Nat and Rafael
Release Date: January 2017
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot
Maxwell Wilson has been bullied for years, and the only person who ever cared lives too far away to come to his rescue. Now his upstairs neighbor is offering support. Max remains cautious, suspecting he is little more than a project for the handsome Jake. When he learns Jake has had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, Max has to reevaluate his priorities—and muster the courage to take a chance at love.
Just when a happy future is within their grasp, life knocks them back down. A devastating blow leaves Max lower than ever and Jake wrestling with regret. They both have to find the strength to stand on their own before they can stand together.
Heartbroken sigh...gah, talk about two guys who simply can't catch a break. This is one of those stories that just makes your heart hurt to read it...but in the very best way because it's a romance so you know something has to work out eventually.
The story begins when Jake finds an injured Max on his doorstep. He honestly considers leaving him there. Jake is on parole. He doesn't need anymore complications in his life, but his conscience won't allow that especially when he discovers Max isn't just drunk and passed out. Jake's sister is an ER nurse so he calls her and the two of them get help for Max. And then Jake finds out that the stranger is actually his downstairs neighbor who he hasn't met before. And things develop from there.
Max is prickly and in the closet. He's spent his life getting beat up for being different so he does everything he can to stay in the shadows and to keep any attention away from him. His history is heartbreaking.
Jake has anger issues that landed him in prison for a year. While he has a great family, the whole reason behind his troubles are a mystery throughout a lot of the book. I was dying to know what actually happened.
It takes a while for the two to really connect. Max is so prickly, it's hard for Jake to get close to him. But I loved Jake's relentlessness. He can sense Max's loneliness and he can't accept leaving the guy alone. Max has worked so hard for so long to hide his true self, it takes a while for him to accept Jake in his life. I liked the slow build-up between them. It worked, especially with Max's whole backstory. And Jake is just one of those characters that I couldn't help, but love. He's so patient with Max, even after the hard knocks he's had in his life. I hate what he's gone through, but he's such a strong guy...in fact, they both really are, although neither one of them sees that in themselves. In their own eyes, they're just doing what they have to do to survive.
And then the author took them down a whole step farther...talk about evil author. OMG, I wasn't sure I was going to survive reading this one. The angst and pain and heartbreak, but gah...it sure did make the book amazing to read. I do like some good angst in my romances.
Flat out...it was a good book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I liked it!
I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.