Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Real World (Bend or Break #5) by Amy Jo Cousins

Real World (Bend or Break, #5)* * * *

When talking fails, it’s time to break out the big guns.

Five years ago, Tom Worthington busted his ass to overcome the fear and paranoia that led him to withdraw from the world and nearly lose his boyfriend. He never thought he’d find himself right back there, shutting Reese out, keeping secrets again.

Reese Anders is ready to try anything to get Tom to talk: if he can’t seduce his boyfriend with food, he’ll get Tom to open up in bed. But even Tom’s confession that his dad is getting out of prison soon doesn’t clear the air between them. And as the holidays approach, intensive mentoring from a new British boss creates more distractions, until Reese is keeping secrets of his own.

At a company Christmas party, it only takes Tom one look at Reese’s new boss to figure out how much danger their relationship is in. But he’s not about to let the connection that started all those years ago at Carlisle come to an end. It’s time to deal with their problems like adults. Face to face. Or back to front. Starting in the bedroom.

Warning: This book contains two adorable guys with way too many secrets, conciliatory rigatoni, a bedroom lesson on the power of multitasking, and indisputable evidence on what makes the perfect holiday HEA. 


I don’t think it will surprise anyone that I about lost my business when I found out that Tom and Reese were getting a follow-up story.  I’m pretty transparent about these things. 

It’s been five years between the end of Off-Campus and the beginning of Real World.  Both Tom and Reese are working and supporting themselves while Tom also puts himself through school to earn his MBA.  So, yeah.  Life is good.  Slightly stressful but good.  But sometimes events have the ability to make people regress in their behavior.  And Tom’s dad’s release from prison is one of those things.  Tom will finally have to face the guy that is responsible for the paranoia he worked so hard to beat.  Add that to some unexpected issues at work and the paranoia comes back in full force.   Unfortunately, so does his tendency to clam up and not tell Reese what’s bothering him.

Reese is pretty intuitive.  After five years he knows Tom better than he knows himself so he immediately notices that Tom has withdrawn.  When he finds out from a friend (and not from Tom) that Tom’s dad is being released he decides it’s time to soften up his boyfriend and make him realize that non-communication is not an option in their relationship.  And his campaign to wear Tom down works.  Sort of.  Tom may have come clean about his dad but there are other things he’s not sharing and Reese notices.  Reese needs Tom to be the one to open up and he can only do so much to make that happen.  The rest is on Tom.

A financial investigation at work has Tom more paranoid than ever.  Understandable considering his father’s history.  But when you keep all that stress in and start hiding away emotionally and physically you start to lose the connection to the ones you love most.  And Tom realizes that in a frightening way when he senses the attraction between Reese and Reese’s boss.   And his action is instant and memorable and really makes the story. 

This is a novella so I really can’t say too much more about the story without giving anything away.  I can say that this was a highly satisfying sequel to Tom and Reese’s story.  It is a beautiful and honest romance about relationships – how it’s easy to fall back into old patterns and how it requires constant work to keep a relationship going.  Their issues are real which in turn makes their love story relatable and real too.  If you are a fan of the series you will also enjoy following up with Cash, Steph, Denny and Rafe.  And, if you are fan of contemporary and realistic romance this entire series wins hands down.  


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