Title: This is Love
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 198 pages
Blurb: Anderson “Andy” Hartley Jr. lives the life of a playboy with Daddy’s money, but without love. If his father finds out Andy’s gay, the game’s over. So he restricts his sex life to the pool house and seems content until he meets the gorgeous new groundskeeper, who just might turn his life upside-down. Merrick “Maverick” Washington is African-American, an ex-SEAL, and recently released from prison after his false conviction was overturned. Working for a rich white dude who looks down his nose at him is one more blow to his spirit. But any job is a step toward self-sufficiency, and Maverick’s not willing to risk that for a spoiled brat. Then Andy tugs at more than Maverick’s body, and he’s starting to wonder how things would shake out if they both overcame their fears and let their worlds collide.
Review: There really aren’t enough books with interracial relationships in any romance genre so I was glad to see one in a male/male pairing. This Is Love is a novella about two men from very different worlds finding their way together. Race isn’t the only thing that separates these men; their neighborhoods, class, and finances are completely divergent.
Andy is basically a trust fund baby, partying and sleeping his way through life. With a homophobe as a father Andy knows he would be abandoned if his homosexuality became known and accepts his loveless existence as all he deserves. Merrick, or Maverick as he is called, is a former SEAL and an ex-con with a false conviction to his name. Maverick struggles to find work in a world that doesn’t care if his conviction was wrongful or not. His best friend helps him acquire a job as groundskeeper at the home Andy shares with his father.
The relationship between Andy and Merrick starts with lust on Andy’s part and thinly disguised contempt on Merrick’s. Enemies to Lovers is a popular theme in romance and ‘hate sex’ can be scorching. As the guys come to an understanding about each other they find common ground that leads to friendship and more. It is definitely not smooth sailing and there is a huge issue that is the defining moment in the relationship.
I wanted to like this one a little more, but a few things were just too much for me to suspend disbelief for. The wrongful conviction is dealt with completely off page with a shockingly small amount of fuss and there is a particularly convenient incident that solved a lot of problems. The sex in this book was particularly hot, but was possibly too plentiful, although I know plenty of readers that love a book filled with sexy scenes.
For characters with so many issues this book was pretty light on angst and has a sweet happily ever after that I am slightly jealous of. I personally would have preferred a few more important conversations in this one and a few less slightly sappy moments. But to each his own!
Reviewed by Jules