Saturday, April 9, 2016

ARC Review: Out on a Limb (Browerton University #2) by A.J. Truman

Out on a Limb (Browerton University #2)
No looking back.

That’s the motto of college senior Cameron Buckley, whether he’s kicking his latest hookup out of bed or plotting out his future as a hit screenwriter. With only a few weeks until graduation, he’s ready to put Browerton University in his rearview mirror and start the life he’s been dreaming of ever since he was a kid. But a chance meeting with a sexy stranger in a bar throws a wrench into his Hollywood plans.

For Walker Reed, no looking back is hard to do when you work minutes away from your alma mater and share child custody with your college sweetheart. Almost fifteen years after graduating from Browerton, he can’t stop wondering how he got here. He has an ex who can’t stand him, a five-year-old son he can’t connect with, and a dead-end job he can’t escape.

When Cameron and Walker first meet, they know the rules. They know their friendship has an expiration date, yet it begins changing them in ways they never expected. As graduation looms, they both know things can’t go anywhere, but they can’t keep denying the feelings pulling them closer, even as an offer from Hollywood threatens to tear them apart forever.

Todd's rating:

I'm generally not the biggest fan of age difference romances, but this one worked pretty well for me as a whole.

At 36, Walker left his life goal of having a creative job behind in favor of staying together with his first love upon college graduation, which landed him in a decidedly non-creative job, where he felt trapped.

However, after his partner of over a decade cheated and left him for another man, Walker's one remaining light was his 6 y.o. son, Hobie, with whom he recently couldn't seem to connect, due in large part to his ex-husband's subtle (to not so subtle) manipulations.

At 22, Cameron had his eyes on the prize, with his main focus on becoming a Hollywood screen writer. Love was for idiots, so he had no desire to fall into that man trap and let anything distract him from his college courses or his career goal.

But as Cameron began spending time with a customer from the Starbucks where he worked part-time and suddenly there was a slight hiccup in his unwavering focus. He not only found himself drawn to Walker, but also enjoyed spending time with the man's young son.

Then we have their extremely slow-burn romance. There wasn't so much as a kiss until 40% into the story, then they ended up actually together, with a 5-month expiration date firmly in place, at around 50% in. Only 5 months abruptly turned into a much shorter two weeks in the blink of an eye, when Cameron received a Hollywood job offer out of the blue.

For me, the first half of the book was nicely-paced and every point along their journey felt natural and essential. Some of my favorite parts were actually the scenes with Cameron bonding with Walker's son, Hobie, which also significantly helped bridge the distance between father and son.

My very favorite scene was where the manipulative psychiatrist ex-husband, Doug, was snidely attacking Cameron, then Walker found his voice and told that asshole right the hell off. In front of the rest of Doug's hoity-toity, rich parent friends. I rewound and read that scene at least 4 times. : )

My least favorite parts of the book were those centering on Walker's snooze-fest job. I wouldn't have minded less detail there, with more of it glossed over and abstract. I never want to hear another word about ad placement in my life, seriously. Ever.

The last half of the book focused a lot on regret. Past, present and possible future regrets, they're all there in spades.

Walker finally came to terms with his past regrets of not following his dream career path due to love (and out of fear) when he was fresh out of college.

And Cameron finally realized that his big, shiny visions of Hollywood were much more sparkly in his head than in reality. So when a career decision was all but made for him, he didn't hesitate (well, not much) to jump at a second chance with Walker, which actually did live up to his dreams of happiness.

There were some sexy scenes in the book, but I really wouldn't categorize this one as an overly-sexy read, especially when compared to the first book, which was flat out hot.

But the book was thoughtful and did have several feels in its 400 pages, so this one rates around 3.75 stars for me, but I think the second half of the book could have been condensed down a bit and still retain the same overall impact.

My ARC copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.

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