Monday, March 21, 2016

Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Amy Jo Cousins

Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Bend or Break, #6-7)
* * * * 

When friends lose the benefits, can the friendship be saved?

Love Me Like A Rock

With the right art tools, there’s almost nothing Austin can’t make real. Except an official relationship with his best friend, rowing teammate and occasional hookup, Vinnie.

Emotional and sexual frustration fuel a spark between Austin and Sean, the nude model in drawing class. After a quick and very dirty encounter, all the reasons Austin has been waiting for Vinnie go fuzzy in his mind.

But if Austin can’t get his head and his heart on the same page, he could lose both his friend, and his lover.

Hard Candy

Vincent always assumed he and Austin would eventually end up together. But now that Austin’s in love with another man, Vinnie is at a loss.

After the world’s most awkward one-night stand with Bryan, a dance major, Vinnie is drawn to his vibrant spirit and calm center.

Physically, the rowing jock and the glittery dancer can match each other stroke for booty pop. But for the lovers to meet on common ground, they’ll have to find a way to get moving in the same direction. 


If you have read Level Hands, you will remember that the sexual tension between Rafi’s roommates, Austin and Vinnie, was both intense and dysfunctional.  When Amy Jo Cousins announced that Austin and Vinnie would be getting their own story I was elated.  One, I love this series to death.  Two, Austin and Vinnie were just too fascinating and I wanted to know what’s going on with them.  And three, it wasn’t just one story, it was two.  Double the pleasure and double the fun!

Love Me Like a Rock:
Through Austin’s eyes we find out how he and Vinnie became friends (which was long before they headed off to college together) and why their relationship is sadly stagnant.   After meeting Sean during a drawing session we find out just how much Austin has been missing.  For the first time he feels wanted.  For the first time he is learning that it’s completely normal to want sex regularly and often.  And for the first time he starts questioning the reality of his and Vinnie’s relationship.  I love both Austin and Sean.  Austin is absolutely vibrant and hilarious.  And we can just add Sean to my growing list of Forever Boys.  He’s steady as a rock and that steadiness along with his ability to communicate slow brings Austin into the real world of healthy relationships.

Hard Candy
When Vinnie realizes that Austin is no longer willing to wait around for him he gets a little (a lot) drunk and wakes up in a stranger’s room.  That stranger is Bryan.  Bryan is the kind of guy that KNOWS who he is.  And he’s fought hard to BE who he is.  He expresses himself so loudly and so freely that Vinnie is a little in awe and a lot uncomfortable.  But despite the discomfort, something about Bryan keeps bringing Vinnie back to his room.  It’s not even the sex (although Vinnie isn’t complaining about that).  With Bryan, Vinnie can find peace and respite from the constant control he exerts over himself every day.  As outwardly loud as Bryan can be, he actually quietly and patiently brings Vinnie out of his shell.  Bryan encourages a kind of bravery that Vinnie never had before.  Watching Vinnie slowly and bravely tackle things like conservative parents and campus bullies is both heartbreak and beautiful.

Both Austin and Vinnie find partners that have the ability to communicate and nurture healthy relationships.  A quality that neither Austin nor Vinnie have any personal experience with.   In the end, THIS is the thing that makes both of these stories so satisfying to read.   

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Amy Jo Cousins is an amazing author and the Bend or Break series is out of this world.  If you’re already reading them I know you won’t hesitate to pick up Between a Rock and a Hard Place.  If you haven’t read these yet then you must start immediately.  I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

Happy Reading!


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