Tuesday, February 14, 2017

ARC Review: Dating Ryan Alback by J.E. Birk

Dating Ryan Alback
Ryan Alback has almost everything he’s ever wanted: a successful acting career, a dog who adores him, great family and friends, and a life outside the closet. The only thing missing is a boyfriend — but Ryan’s been burned by Hollywood relationships before, and he’s not eager to try one again.

Jason Santos has almost everything he's ever wanted: a fulfilling career teaching middle school, a house in a city he loves, and parents who support him in every way. Too bad he can't seem to forget the ex-boyfriend who rejected his marriage proposal.

When a talk show host launches a dating contest to find Ryan a boyfriend and Jason accidentally wins, neither of them expect anything to come from it. Yet somewhere between a disastrous massage and a mud sinkhole, they both start to wonder if this date could be more than just a public relations stunt. But before they can move into the future, they'll both have to learn to let go of the past.

Todd's rating:

I must admit that I found the premise of this book fairly unique.

I can't tell you how many times have I've finished a book and thought, "Hmm, that was probably the 5th time that I've read some variation of that same story, just retold by a different author."

Well, I can't really remember any of my previous reads that were too close to this same premise, at least not with quite the same twists, which was refreshing.

Ryan is an actor in a hit TV show, and a bit of a recluse. He loves being on screen, but hates being in the public spotlight.

So you can probably imagine how Ryan feels when a TV talk show host conspires to help Ryan's love life and his agent agrees to a blind date setup -- without Ryan's consent.

Jason is a teacher with hopes of starting up a non-profit to help separated immigrant families, and also a bit of a recluse. He loves working with his students, but hates being the center of attention.

However, when Jason's well-intentioned, extremely persistent best friend agrees to keep her nose out of his romantic life for the rest of the school year, if he will allow her to enter him in a talk show's celebrity dating contest, he whole-heartedly agrees. I mean, out of several hundred entries, he's not going to win, right?

In the words of one Tangerine Twatwaffle, "Wrong." ;- )

This was such a cute story, with both men dreading the Vermont weekend getaway 'date' set up by the talk show, but quickly realizing that, in spite of their unconventional meeting, they do have a genuine connection. One that could continue long past their obligatory weekend.

But fate (and paparazzi) conspire against them, so the weekend ends on an extremely sour note, with both men thinking that's it. Except that it's not. Not by a long shot.

I loved how this story played out on page. With the advice of his best friend, Ryan realized that he should have given Jason the benefit of the doubt and trusted him. And, after explaining why he's so distrustful, Jason realized that Ryan really did deserve a second chance.

This story had several ups and downs, but more highs than lows, so it was a very feel-good read, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

As far as sexy times, there were a few, but I wouldn't really categorize this one as an overly steamy read with long, drawn-out, dirty details on-page. This story was definitely more adorable than hot.

If I had any complaints, I'd have to say that the pacing was a little slow during the middle and the presence of the 'scared of his own shadow' dog wasn't entirely necessary, but neither of those niggles turned out to be a deal breaker for me.

This one did end with the MC's planning a life together; however, the concrete details as to how the logistics of how they'd have an entirely 'shared' life, full time, in the same city, wasn't entirely addressed, which left me wanting a few more details there.

Overall, I'd rate this one at around 4.25 *once-bitten-twice-shy* stars and highly recommend it.

** My ARC copy of the story was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.


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