Saturday, October 18, 2014

ARC Review: The Half of Us by Cardeno C.

The Half of Us (Family, #4)
From the blurb:

Short-tempered, arrogant heart surgeon Jason Garcia grew up wanting a close-knit family, but believes he ruined those dreams when he broke up his marriage. The benefit of divorce is having as much random sex as he wants, and it’s a benefit Jason is exploiting when he meets a sweet, shy man at a bar and convinces him to go home for a no-strings-attached night of fun.

Eight years living in Las Vegas hasn’t dimmed Abe Green’s optimism, earnestness, or desire to find the one. When a sexy man with lonely eyes propositions him, Abe decides to give himself a birthday present—one night of spontaneous fun with no thoughts of the future. But one night turns into two and then three, and Abe realizes his heart is involved.

For the first time, Abe feels safe enough with someone he respects and adores to let go of his inhibitions in the bedroom. If Jason can get past his own inhibitions and open his heart and his life to Abe, he might finally find the family he craves.

Rosa's rating

 


I gotta tell you (for perhaps the 217th time), I love Cardeno C.’s books. They’re my fluff nuggets, my corn syrup baths--my only expectation is to feel like I’m high on book-love. Giggly and flushed and happy. And slightly aroused because she writes some of the absolute hottest sex scenes in MM Romance. It’s just like her bio says—her books make my day a little better.

That’s a wonderful thing but I don’t expect to get much more from a Cardeno book. It probably, definitely, maybe, makes me a bit of a snob but I don’t have high expectations of romance novels—I expect them to be repetitive. I don’t want to learn or grow as a person, I want to be soothed. I want to feel like the world is a simpler place.

Having said that, it dawned on me while reading this book that Cardeno C. manages to surprise me in almost all of her books. In most MM, it’s the bigger, more dominant partner who tops, but I find I can’t predict who’s going to top in her books. In Until Forever Comes, Miguel (the more dominant appearing MC) and Ethan switch it up a lot. And really, it would be a shame if Ethan didn’t top as for a small guy he’s hiding quite the dongadoodle in his cut-off jean shorts. In Perfect Imperfections, Cardeno not only waits till practically the end of the book to start the sexy times (something that would normally bug me in an author I expect to whip out the lube and buckets o' come within the first 20%), but she added a fleshlight. Two fleshlights! I don’t know why that surprised me—I can only guess that I don’t expect any type of sex toy beyond the very occasional dildo or a vibrator when reading this type of sweet romance. But my reaction was WELL DONE YOU. And then I proceeded to read the fleshlight scene 8 times in a row.

Okay, both those examples are of the sexual variety--I can’t help it, that’s just where my mind goes. But in The Half of Us it isn’t the sex that surprises me, it’s the plot and the romance. Frankly I was expecting a bit of a rehash of the first book in this series, Something in the Way He Needs. Which basically went something like this:
Mr. Alpha Asshole Who Just Wants to Get Off & Get Lost, who's super successful and a workaholic, meets Mr. Super Hawt Guy Who Doesn’t Quite Recognize His Own Hotness, they do it and then do it A LOT and Mr. Alpha Asshole discovers that he just can't let Mr. Super Hawt go, he's never felt like this before and everything he found annoying in other men he doesn't find annoying in this guy and why is that?--but who cares the sex is fucking awesome and they do it some more and then Mr Alpha Asshole develops FEELINGS OMG and has a major freakout which leads to MAJOR ASSHOLE ACTIONS which leads to a breakup, but then the Asshole realizes that every dickhead thought he had about relationships and love was WRONG and that love is worth it even if it is scary and then the Asshole and the Hawt Guy get together and live happily ever after. The end.
Yes, there is some of that in this book. MC Jason is very successful and a workaholic. When he’s not working he just wants to find a man to fuck and that’s it. He doesn’t believe in relationships between men. Then he meets math teacher Abe, who’s everything Jason normally avoids in a hook-up--a little too shy, a little too interested in actual conversation—and quelle horreur—relationship-oriented. But their one-night stand turns into more. At this point I kept waiting for the misunderstandings, for Jason to freakout over OMG FEELINGS, for him to act like Abe is pressuring him just by acknowledging they’re in a relationship. For there to be a major blow-up followed by epiphanies and assurances of eternal love and devotion.

That doesn’t happen. Okay, love, devotion, yes. A bumpy road to love and happiness, yes. Yes, Jason is the Alpha Asshole role in this book, but there’s no major epiphany followed by a sudden turnaround in personality. He’s always going to be the guy who’s more comfortable making demands then requests, but as he falls in love with Abe he gradually makes small changes in himself and in his personal life. It leads to a better life for not just himself and Abe, but for his ex-wife and children. It’s not just the story of two men falling in love, but the story of how falling in love helps Jason realize that families don’t have to be heteronormative. He can love Abe and still have a family, with Abe, his ex-wife and their two children.

Which is yet another reason this book surprised me—I don’t really like books about families. I’d rather not read about ex-wives or children. So many ex-wives in these books are one dimensional bitches who seem to have nothing better to do than “get their man back”—and use their children to do it. Ugh. Just...ugh. Please don’t write about women if that’s the only shit you can come up with. Also, children. Do they all have to be little geniuses who practically raise themselves? Precocious little brats who know more than the adults? Do none of them crash after a sugar-high, refuse to eat their vegetables and have a meltdown when they can’t find their favorite toy? And yes, in real life fits are followed by adorable kid stuff--by why do books have to show the adorable kid stuff ALL THE TIME? Kids are just like the rest of us--and we all have our moments (or weeks) of unmitigated assholery.

Fortunately, Cardeno doesn't go that route. Jason’s ex-wife is a more complex character, she accepted he was gay way before Jason ever did and she doesn’t use his orientation against him. Her greatest fault might be that she’s too forgiving--if my ex pulled the shit Jason did, especially if we had children together, it would take me a lot longer than 5 years to feel like I could be his loving best bud. As for the children, yes, there is one that’s rather on the perfect side, but the other definitely is not. He’s a fairly typical teenage boy with some issues that need to be dealt with. It’s not a major part of the book, but it’s there and I appreciated that little bit of realism.

So I came for the sex, for the fluffy romance, and I got that, but what I’ll take with me is the formation of a family. This isn’t a book about overwrought declarations of love, but a quieter book about showing that love, feeling it in the small everyday events of life. Is that going to lead to any major changes in my own life? Well, no, it seems unlikely. But I did learn one lesson--don’t underestimate fluff nugget romance novels or authors like Cardeno C.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23197965-the-half-of-us

Buy this book:

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5511

http://www.amazon.com/The-Half-Family-Series-Book-ebook/dp/B00O6BO6KE/ref=zg_bs_6487829011_2



 Thanks for reading my review!









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