ARC Review: Us by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

8 Mar 2016

Book Title: Us
Author: Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy
Series: Him #2
Release Date: March 8th, 2016
Genres: MM Romance, Sports Romance
Can your favorite hockey players finish their first season together undefeated?

Five months in, NHL forward Ryan Wesley is having a record-breaking rookie season. He's living his dream of playing pro hockey and coming home every night to the man he loves–Jamie Canning, his longtime best friend turned boyfriend. There's just one problem: the most important relationship of his life is one he needs to keep hidden, or else face a media storm that will eclipse his success on the ice.

Jamie loves Wes. He really, truly does. But hiding sucks. It's not the life Jamie envisioned for himself, and the strain of keeping their secret is taking its toll. It doesn't help that his new job isn't going as smoothly as he'd hoped, but he knows he can power through it as long as he has Wes. At least apartment 10B is their retreat, where they can always be themselves.

Or can they? When Wes's nosiest teammate moves in upstairs, the threads of their carefully woven lie begin to unravel. With the outside world determined to take its best shot at them, can Wes and Jamie develop major-league relationship skills on the fly?

Warning: contains sexual situations, a vibrating chair, long-distance sexytimes, and proof that hockey players look hot in any shade of green.

Hmm, I absolutely loved HIM and this book is a prime example of why I don't love very many MM sequels with the same characters. I think I can best clear it up by stating what I love about the MM genre. I love the angsty tug of war of emotions I get with MM- specifically the gay-for-you trope where one otherwise straight guy suddenly falls for another guy. 

Now, I'm not entirely sure how common that is in true society but it really works for me. That emotional tug of war within usually progresses to some hot and heavy lovin' that is also a huge bonus in MM. We got all that in HIM. A true gay-for-you, friends-to-lovers trope with added stream so it was all perfection....

Now we have US. US basically starts out on the heels of HIM. Wesley is playing professional hockey and Jamie is coaching high school kids. Like with any relationship, balancing of work and home life begins to cause stress. Couple that with them being fairly isolated as Wes wants to be firmly planted in the closet until his rookie career is over. So, no time together and when they DO see each other, it's in hiding. Not looking good long term... Add life stresses and lack of communication and their relationship is heading head-first into failure zone.

What I liked:

  • Jamie and Wesley as a couple. They're cute and cuddly yet banter like the buddies they've been for years.
  • Steam - The chemistry between the two of them (when things are going well and they COMMUNICATE) is palpable. The authors do a great job writing MM sex scenes. Not everyone pulls this off. They do it well.
  • Secondary characters - Love love love Jamie's family. Enough said.

What I struggled with:
  • This was HUGE - This weird slang they had going on. Not only in internal monologue but in speech and text. It was awful! Nobody talks like that and it made them sound like toothless hicks. Examples? Let me count the ways... 'im, scuse, di'int, 'em, d'ya. It added NOTHING to the book and it grated my nerves something terrible... I don't remember it in HIM so I'm not sure why it was added here.
  • Blake - I had a love/hate with this dude. He was an obnoxious teammate of Wes' and moved into their apartment building. The man gradually grew on me but his humor was just weird. No sense of privacy, totally uncouth, and NOT humorous. It felt like they tried...and just kinda failed with him as any sort of comedy relief. Or maybe I just have a stick up my butt. Oh that wasn't the right play on words, Allison... Anywho..
  • Lack of communication - Drives me batshit crazy. 'Nuff said (their slang is obviously catchy).
  • The "coming out" stuff - In all predictability, the media were a-holes, yet their teams just rallied around them like each of them were founding members of LGTB groups. I felt like this was a bit cheesy and embraced a bit too easily. Even in modern today's society, I think there would be some teammates who'd act a bit put off by it but nobody apparently did. I'd like a bit more's the angst whore in me, apparently. If it all could be this easy for people to come out in the real world...

So, all in all, I finished the book and it was nice but I can honestly say I skimmed part of the ending. It wasn't the most engaging read I've picked up but it wasn't entirely boring. I love Wes and Jamie so I pushed on for them. I just think this is a lesson for MM sequels. They're good for one book but beyond that, I lose interest and it's all just a bit too blah by the second book.

Advanced copy received by author in exchange for my honest review.

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