Saturday, November 26, 2016

ARC Review: Summer Lessons (Winter Ball, #2) by Amy Lane

Mason Hayes’s love life has a long history of losers who don’t see that Mason’s heart is as deep and tender as his mouth is awkward. He wants kindness, he wants love—and he wants someone who thinks sex is as fantastic as he does. When Terry Jefferson first asks him out, Mason thinks it’s a fluke: Mason is too old, too boring, and too blurty to interest someone as young and hot as his friend’s soccer teammate.

The truth is much more painful: Mason and Terry are perfectly compatible, and they totally get each other, but Terry is still living with his toxic, suffocating parent and Mason doesn’t want to be a sugar daddy. Watching Terry struggle to find himself is a long lesson in patience, but Mason needs to trust that the end result will be worth it, because finally, he’s found a man worth sharing his heart with.

Jewel's rating:

This series just makes me happy. I loved LOVED Winter Ball so reading Summer Lessons was a no-brainer, and I thoroughly enjoyed Mason and Terry and their journey to each other. It was entertaining and also a little heart breaking. Just a little, though, I promise.

Summer Lessons starts off with a tour through Mason's childhood and his awkward and funny obsession with his penis. Awkward, because he would blurt about it at random-ish times. And funny because he would blurt about it at random-ish times. Oh, man, it is so good he had the parents he had. I can't blame his mom for spiking her Kool-Aid with vodka. I'm sure I'd have done the same!

We're also taken a bit through some of Mason's breakups when he was clearly with the wrong guy. But Mason has always wanted someone to call his own, and like most of us, he often chose poorly. But that's a good thing, because it helps Mason recognize something really good when he experiences it. Things start to look up when he and his brother Dane move to Sacramento. Oh, he still gets blurty at the complete wrong times, which is all kinds of awesome, but he finds his place and his people and life is good, you know?

The one good thing throughout Mason's life, though, has been his family. His parents are very supportive of both him and his brother, Dane, and Mason looks out for Dane. In fact, I love his family. They're a bit quirky, but that isn't a bad thing at all, and they just work. They have had their challenges, both with Mason getting into trouble, periodically, because of his lack of a filter and when Dane was diagnosed as bipolar. But they're what a family should be.

Terry is still young, 25, and is still living at home. His mom is controlling and, frankly, awful. She's always acted like Terry owes her, since she raised him. But I've gotta say, I think he mostly raised himself. She was pretty useless and very bitter. And Terry feels guilty for even wanting to leave. His only real reprieve from his mom is his rec soccer league. They don't exactly win games, but everyone has fun and Terry gets out of the house.

Terry was tenacious in his pursuit of Mason after they met at Skip and Richie's holiday party. At first, it was just sex, because Terry has never had a relationship, and didn't really know how to break away from his mom so that he could actually manage one. But the thing about Terry is that he has trouble seeing the big picture in his head until he sees good examples externally. It was true in soccer and it was true in life. It takes Terry a bit of time to really grasp how he feels about Mason and what he really needed to do about that.

And Mason sees Terry as a hot guy that is too young for him. In many ways, I totally agree with Mason on that. Mason is 36 and Terry is 25, so it isn't like the age difference is so huge, but Terry's never been on his own and he seems like he can barely take care of himself. That isn't really true, though. Terry just squirrels easily and can never think further ahead than today because his mom is very very needy (and a bitter bitch). Because of her he's had to go without a lot and he's had to find his own way, while still taking care of her.

Am not a fan of Terry's mother. She had Terry when she was pretty young (not sure of her age, but I suspect she is now in her early 40's) and she was bitter and acted like the world owed her and often told Terry that he owed her. Well, Terry went above and beyond for far longer that he should have. But we often do, for family. So where Mason won the family lottery, in many ways, Terry got short changed.

Their inevitable "break", while heartbreaking, was also very necessary and was done without too much unnecessary drama. I was thankful for that. I do agree with how Mason handled it, though. Terry did need time and space to find his own direction and spread his wings and that would be difficult to do when Mason was there. Terry needed to be able to define who he was and what he wanted on his own Terms. And Mason needed to make sure that he wasn't just 'convenient'. So, while that part of the book made me sad, I do think it was absolutely necessary and right.

We also get to visit with Skip and Richie, from Winter Ball and the rest of the team, but we also meet some new people that I hope will come into play in future books.

Summer Lessons is more than just about Terry and Mason finding each other. It's about finding your place in the world and forming a family through friendships and about spreading your wings and taking chances. It's about love and life. And, hopefully, we've got at least three more novels in this series (we seem to get decent setups for at least that many) because I really love these people and getting to visit with them more would do me good.

ARC of Summer Lessons was generously provided, by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

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