Title: Forever with You
Author: Londra Laine
Cover Art: Aria Tan
Length: 230 pages/77,000 words
Release Date: January 9, 2018
Themes: New York City, office romance, contemporary, single-parent, multiracial, sexual trauma
Please be aware that this book contains a flashback of and several references to sexual assault.
Kelly Brooks Montes is only nineteen years old and just starting college in New York City when tragedy strikes, and he becomes a single dad to his toddler brother. Four years later, Kelly and his baby brother, Jaylen, are doing well, though Kelly leads a double life to make ends meet. He’s a high-level administrative assistant by day and a racy go-go boy by night. Between raising his brother, dancing, and trying not to run afoul of his new boss, Kelly doesn't have time for a boyfriend. Even if he did want a man in his life, a past trauma makes him question whether he can ever trust a man with his body or his heart. But then Kelly receives an unexpected but steamy birthday kiss from his boss, a man he was sure hated him, and he begins to wish for things he knows he shouldn't.
Andrew Whitman knew from the moment he held Kelly's hand that the man was special, and it both annoyed and terrified him. Kelly makes him feel a little out of control and Drew is a highly controlled man. He has to be to keep his sexuality a secret from his father, a conservative politician. And he is OK with that. He has a perfectly good, mutually beneficial, life plan with his best friend, Lex. A long time ago, he'd made his peace with the fact that he'd never find a man worth turning his life upside down for. Then he ends up with his capable and gorgeous assistant under him on top of his desk, and his life plans change. Drew can't seem to get out of his own way when it comes to the quiet, sexy, and surprising single dad, but he can't stop himself from falling for Kelly and his sweet baby brother. And just when it seems that Kelly has worked through his past hurts enough to let Drew into his body and his heart, manipulative family and words unspoken threaten to tear them apart. But after getting a taste of a life he never thought he could have, Drew won't let anything tear his fledgling family apart.
Hot, wet, messy, they fed off each other. Kelly tightened his grip around Drew’s neck, hoisting himself up and bringing his legs around Drew’s waist. Drew slid his hands to Kelly’s ass, kneading and clutching him while Kelly started to slowly rock his hips.
“There you go, baby. Fuck, you feel so good. Take what you need.”
Kelly started grinding against Drew aggressively, his low, sexy moans making Drew’s cock ache with the need to be even closer. Skin to skin.
Drew spun them around, and with one hand, shoved a bunch of crap off his desk and onto his chair, laying Kelly out on his desk.
Drew grasped and spread Kelly’s thighs as he settled between the smaller man’s legs, pressing them chest to chest. Drew pulled Kelly’s glasses off his face and gently tossed them in the general direction of his desk chair, hoping they landed safely. Drew wanted to fully possess Kelly. Absorb him, sink into him, claim him, soak him in. Drew lifted Kelly’s wrists above his head with one of his hands, restraining him while he fondled Kelly’s dick through his pants with the other. He needed unfettered access to him.
First off, trigger warning - there is a detailed flashback to sexual assault in this book that happened when Kelly was a teenager. Proceed accordingly if this might be a trigger for you.
I'm of two minds about this novel. On one hand, I liked the characters and most of the plot, and the romance between the two men progressed at a reasonable pace, once Drew pulled his head out of his ass. There was good, believable chemistry between them, and the relationship had little angst - other than Kelly's traumatic experience, which he still grapples with, and Drew keeping a secret he shouldn't have. On the other hand, some of the plot felt a little OTT - there was a homophobic father and blackmail and attempted coercion and a marriage pact that all seemed a bit too much for my taste. In addition, during the first 15% or so, I felt that a lot of the writing was info dump and superfluous. For example, I didn't need to be told multiple times that Kelly's little brother Jaylen has asthma and required breathing treatments, which are expensive. I didn't need to be told multiple times that Kelly has chosen to be an admin assistant at this company because it comes with medical benefits for his brother. Most readers, including myself, will remember if being told information once. Twice is okay. More than that, I get irritated.
Drew is Kelly's boss, and because Drew has a crush on the younger man, he's been treating him coldly and rudely, which - what? Considering that Drew is supposedly in his 30s, I would assume that someone of his age had a better grip on his emotions than that, and could act in a professional manner - which he didn't. Kelly doesn't understand why his boss is nice to everyone else, but cold with him, especially since Kelly has a bit of a crush on the older man too. I wouldn't have understood either, and Drew's behavior pissed me off.
After Kelly's office birthday celebration, Drew's tenuous hold on his self-control snaps, and the two men share a hot and heavy kiss in his office. Something triggers Kelly, and he freaks out and runs. Confused and worried, Drew attempts to find out what happened. He comes on super strong at first, but when Kelly has a another freak-out due to his trauma, Drew reins it in, thankfully so. He was actually a very caring guy, and I appreciated that.
I did have some concerns about the realism of their office demeanor - nobody seems to have questioned their changed behavior, really, and nobody seems to have any suspicions. Additionally, there were some occasions early on where Drew is a complete ass in making himself sound as if Kelly's job may be on the line if he doesn't comply - which, hello, harassment.
Kelly has a great support system in his friends, and dances at a gay bar on weekends. He also has custody of his much younger brother after his mother and step-father died when Kelly was but 19. Having put himself through college and looking after his baby brother is quite a feat. He had a lot of backbone, which I appreciated, and he didn't let Drew push him around. Much.
Once Drew finds out more about Kelly's background and really takes the time to get to know the other man, lending support when the little brother ends up in the hospital with asthma attacks, and generally being there for Kelly, their romance truly started to flourish, and I could see that Kelly started to trust Drew.
There were many emotional scenes that were either heart-breaking or heart-warming, and plenty of sexy times that thankfully didn't feel gratuitous, and I enjoyed reading this story for the most part. I could have done without the explicit flashback - I didn't feel that was necessary to bring Kelly's trauma across, and it felt somewhat exploitative. Again, heed the trigger warning.
Overall, for a debut novel, this was a good read, and I would be inclined to read more of this author's books as they are published.
** I received a free copy of this book from Gay Book Promotions as part of a review tour in exchange for an honest review. **
About the Author
Londra has loved reading since she discovered The Baby-Sitters Club, which remains her favorite book series. As a child, her parents would ground her by taking all the books out of her room for several days. Little did they know that when she couldn't read other peoples' stories, she'd make up her own.
Londra began reading romance in 2008. She fell in love with the M/M romance genre after purchasing a book by accident several years later. After decades of daydreaming, and jotting down storylines in various notebooks, Londra decided to give life to the characters in her head. She writes to give her guys the happy ending she wishes everyone––no matter their race, religion, gender, or orientation––could experience in real life.
To pay the bills, Londra helps IT engineers communicate with the people using their products. She is a recovering journalist and a former political staffer. Londra loves to watch American football, baseball, Seinfeld, The Golden Girls, and almost any show on HGTV. In 2010, she moved from her native California to New York City where she lives with her partner in Harlem. Forever With You is her first book.
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