Monday, August 3, 2015

ARC Review: Lonely Hearts (Love Lessons 3) by Heidi Cullinan

With the quiet help of his wealthy family, Sebastian “Baz” Acker has successfully kept his painful past at bay. But as the end of college draws near, his friends—his buffer zone—are preparing to move on, while his own life is at a crippling standstill.With loneliness bearing down on him, Baz hooks up—then opens up—with Elijah Prince, the guy Baz took a bullet for last year. The aftershocks of their one-night stand leave giant cracks in Baz’s carefully constructed armor. For the first time, the prospect isn’t terrifying.

Accustomed to escaping his demons by withdrawing into his imagination, Elijah isn’t used to having a happy herd of friends. He’s even less comfortable as the object of a notorious playboy’s affections. Yet all signs seem to indicate this time happiness might be within his grasp. When Baz’s mother runs for a highly sought-after public office, the media hounds drag Baz’s and Elijah’s pasts into the light. In the blinding glare, Baz and Elijah face the ultimate test: discovering if they’re stronger together…or apart.

Warning: Contains sex in a Tesla, sex in a cupboard, sex under a piano, kinky role play, and a cappella RuPaul songs. Just a couple of boys groping, battling, then finally loving their way to becoming men.

Dani's rating:

“We have different curses. We have to undo our own spells.”

If you do nothing else today, go watch RuPaul’s “Sissy That Walk” video so when you get to THAT scene in the book, you’ll cheer even louder.

This is the grittiest of the three Love Lessons books. The series begins with cocky Walter, sweet Kelly, and princess glitter. In the second book, Aaron struggles with his cold, manipulative father, but he has Giles and his wonderful family to take him in.

Elijah has no one. Or so he believes.

Both Elijah and Baz are damaged and fragile, Baz physically as well as emotionally. Abused by his parents, Elijah has never trusted that anyone would love him, that anyone would stay.

Having gone through more at age 16 than most people go through in a lifetime, Baz puts on his shades and plasters on a wide grin. It's how he keeps out the light. And the world.

The more Baz cares about somebody the more he pushes them away.

[Baz] didn’t panic. Okay, he panicked a little. But not because it freaked him out to be close. Because he’d found a new terror—the acknowledgement he wanted something to stay.

What starts off as steamy, dirty sex in the backseat of a Tesla evolves into a strong, REAL relationship.

But, damn, it’s not easy.

At one point, Baz is all in, but Elijah keeps up his walls; he doesn’t think anyone wants to “date this mess.”

“All I know is I don’t want to stop being with you once we go back.” Baz rested a hand on Elijah’s hair and threaded his fingers hesitantly. “I get tired of being alone. I think you do too. We could be alone together, instead.”

Elijah’s parents are beyond redemption, but there’s hope for Baz’s politically minded, wealthy mother. When she brings a veritable shit storm upon the White House and her son, everyone bonds together to keep Baz and Elijah safe.

The spirit of camaraderie and friendship is strong in this story. I loved visiting with Kelly and Walter, Giles and Aaron … even Ed and Laurie from Dance With Me.

We also meet a new character, Lewis, desperately wanting to live as Lejla. The author does a great job introducing a transgender character and showing the genuine day-to-day battles of individuals struggling with their gender identity.

“Survival is worth whatever you wish it to be. It’s not a burden to navigate. It’s a laurel to wear.”

The truths in this book: real friends may leave, but they always come back; healing takes time, patience ... and deep-dish pizza; there's nothing quite like getting down and dirty in a Tesla; everyone has a drag queen inside them; sugar cookies won't solve all your problems, but they help a great deal; we're always our own villains in the end.

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Thanks for stopping by; happy reading!

An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Download links are provided as a courtesy and do not constitute an endorsement of or affiliation with the book, author, publisher, or website listed.

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