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Mark Wills ~ Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews

I'm an avid reader and reviewer of m/m fiction. I also love historical novels and crime / thrillers.

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Out of the Past
Jeffrey Ballam
The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection
Arthur Conan Doyle
Don't Trust the Cut - Kade Boehme This book deals with real life; ugly warts and all! Real emotions, real reactions, real trials and tribulations. Reality is not pretty sometimes, but happiness can be found if you're prepared to fight for it.

I liked this book at lot due to the fact that it doesn’t give one-sided characters, the characters are very real and complicated but then again that’s life. For me this book didn’t just have the standard two MCs, but four main MCs. That’s why I’m going to start my review with by looking at the characters individually.

Tucker – recovering from a past he’d rather forget and put behind him, makes him strong but yet insecure. When he meets Jesse for the first time not knowing how to handle the situation he bolts for the door like a scared rabbit even though the attraction is there. Anyone who has ever experienced love at first sight will know that feeling when someone looks at you, where your legs are like jelly and you get the proverbial butterflies in your stomach. Even when Tucker meets Jesse a year later at the restaurant where he works at, the feelings are exactly the same. Due to this encounter he becomes friends with Jesse and Miranda. Although he knows that Jesse is with Miranda he still feels the pull and lets his feelings guide him. At the beginning of their relationship Tucker sees it as just a good thing while it lasts, but has no delusions that due to Jesse’s history it’ll probably all come to an end at some stage. He feels he can’t trust Jesse completely as he is just trying to come out of the closet and could bolt back in there again should he not be able to deal with it. As time progresses he realises that it is more than a fling and sees the change in Jesse that he feels responsible for. However, he is still not able to tell Jessie about his past and this becomes a major stumbling block later in their story. His stubborness and jumping to conclusions will be his undoing. Tucker is a loving sole looking for a home, someone he feels he can love and trust for the rest of his life. But this trust isn’t easily given for reasons I could totally understand. This doesn’t become really apparent until near the end of the book. But this problem is there from the beginning, accompanying him, underlying his every motive. We even know from the first chapter that the Canadian holiday is all a ruse for the real reason he had been away.

Jesse – is your stereotypical closeted gay. He couldn’t be more in the closet with the doors securely shut if he tried. This all stems from many factors, his being in the marines; fear of rejection from his mother and friends, a very real situation. I felt sorry for Jesse, trapped, scared, not happy inside, fearing rejection from the people he cares about. Although he knows deep down he is gay, he is just trying to lead the life that everyone expects of him. This may seem very noble, but in the end it will lead to no good, he will unintentionally hurt people around him even more by not being honest with himself. Then he meets Tucker who turns his world upside down and gives him the strength to do something about it, knowing he will never be truly happy in his life until some ground breaking revelation takes place. Tucker is that revelation. Tucker gives him the strength to recognise what has been staring him in the face all this time and to do something about it. He knows he’s been living a lie all this time, but has been too scared to do anything at all about it. Yes, it probably isn’t fair to Miranda in the beginning, but then what’s fair? That’s life. I’ve met enough married men in gay bars in my time too due to the usual reasons of “the wife is away for the weekend” or “I’m just in town for the week,” blah, blah, blah! Needless to say I steered well clear of them as it would only lead to grief with all the baggage these sorts of guys carry around with them. Unfortunately, in Tucker's case he couldn't. There are all sorts of reasons, either they’re bi and just want to fool around or they are trapped with so many responsibilities they can’t make that jump to coming out. But this isn’t just a gay thing, how many women have had affairs with married men who keep promising them they’ll leave the wife and kids, etc. and never do! Jesse’s story is a real coming out story, with all the fear and angst that goes with it. He turns his world inside out. I know through my own experience how excruciating this can be and fear of rejection is a real big deal, especially when it involves your parents, no matter how old you are. I’m glad to say that with my parents this was not the case, but all too often gay men and women are totally rejected by their parents even in this day and age. This process is also a slow one and doesn’t happen over night. You first tell friends and then find the courage to start to tell the family. Here Jesse first confides in a good friend, Nathan, to see what his reactions would be. Thank goodness Nathan is accepting and still sees Jesse as the friend he has always been. To be honest I did it exactly the same way myself. Therefore the first part of the book dealt with this whole situation perfectly, didn’t rush it and gave it the time necessary to develop. Jesse gets there in the end but it’s a long journey and Tucker giving him the reassurance he needs, not by instructing him or telling him what to do, but just by being there for him, non-judgemental, caring and letting him just be Jesse. So Jesse is a very real and believable character. He goes through big life changes, comes out the other end and makes it!

Alison - What a woman! Witty, sassy, intelligent, caring and protective; everything you could wish for in a best friend and more. Although she may appear originally to be a little ditsy, you soon realise that there is a more serious character beneath the façade. Alison was my hero. She obviously cares a lot about Tucker’s welfare, but this is the most natural thing in the world for a caring best friend. She is obviously someone who cares enough about Tucker that he doesn't get into a situation or the state where he was before. To be honest Tucker's Alison is exactly like a very good friend of mine. We do absolutely everything together. I can talk to her about everything; she comforts me, kicks me up the ass when needed, makes me reflect on my actions, is honest with me and listens. We do all sorts of crazy funny shit together that maybe is only funny to us but we don't care (thinking of the kitchen routine between Alison and Tucker with the music when Jesse comes in), go shopping together and give each other fashion advice, etc. Basically she cares about me just like Alison does with Tucker. Like a sister really and I do the same for her. As real close and best friends love each other in a special way. OK, it was mentioned a couple of times that she flicked her hair, but hell which girl with long hair doesn't? I know my friend does out of habit occasionally, doesn’t mean I think any less of her. Although Alison is suspicious of Jesse’s motives at the beginning which is natural enough, totally ends up accepting him after she’s satisfied Jesse is genuine and good for Tucker. A good judge of character and I was happy to read she also found her soulmate in the end. I could feel the unconditional joy Alison had in knowing that Tucker was truly happy after such a long time. I loved Alison, a real good friend to have when the chips are down.

Miranda – Miranda, oh Miranda! A woman with many layers, complicated and not the total bitch everyone would like her to be. That would be all too easy. At the beginning Miranda for me was your typical girl who only wanted the fancy wedding, house, children, golden retriever and trophy husband. She obviously thought she would have this in Jesse, but alas this was not to be. The dream was to be shattered. She knew about his past love affair with a man and his time in the marines, before they got together, but believed that she could be happy with Jesse, even though there was always an underlying doubt. Living in a relationship with doubt is never going to be good. Even I have been down the cover girlfriend path, here referred to as Jesse's beard. After Jesse meets Tucker she obviously sees this as a trial for thier relationship and forces him in Tucker’s direction, by encouraging boy’s nights, etc. only to see if Jesse can resist temptation. Scheming to say the least. That was the first dumb thing she did. Then she makes friends out of Tucker and Alison again I reckon to see how Jesse behaves around Tucker. Another trial by fire for Jesse. Tucker and Alison were friends with both Jesse and Miranda before their relationship really gets underway and although Tucker is Jesse's catalyst, still remain friends with Alison maybe out of a sense of duty. This happens, you make friends with a couple and then they split up, you don't want to take sides as you're friends with both, but it is very difficult to remain completely impartial in these situations.However, Alison gets the measure of Miranda early on and develops what I would call a “love-hate” relationship, but always on guard for Tucker’s sake. When Jesse breaks up with Miranda she is obviously upset and hurt. Who wouldn't be? She still appears at Tucker’s and Alison’s house to talk to Alison, but then again I reckon this was only a ruse to try and find out what was going down. Alison remains guarded and knows exactly what the ulterior motives are. Then one night she comes around on a surprise call and finds Jesse kissing Tucker in the kitchen, she remains composed and externally doesn’t seem to be affected by it, but this is all show for a plan that she has concocted to get her own back on Jesse. Extremely calculating! Basically revenge by the jilted lover by any other name. When she invites them all to her birthday, I was thinking, WTF! But then the birthday party arrives and the plan becomes all too clear. Tucker and Jesse are there and she invites Jesse’s mother, yep, all hell breaks loose when Jesse’s mother discovers he’s having an affair with a man. This was a hateful and spiteful plan on behalf of Miranda, but she was hurting and this can make people do horrible things. Although in the end she probably did Jesse the biggest favour of his life. Enough time passes and we find out that Miranda had an affair while still with Jessie, so there's a great case of the pot calling the kettle black! However, in the mean time she also manages to get herself in the family way and thus became a fallen angel for her parents, experiencing rejection for herself first hand. Divine retribution if you ask me. Time passes and is a healer and when she meets Jesse again and tells him the news about her pregnancy then obviously enough time had passed that they could talk to each other again putting their pasts behind them. Can ex-lovers become friends? Well, it has been known to happen. However, her predicament mellows her and she becomes really forgiving of Jesse and what he did. Therefore the path is cleared to make a new start of being just good friends. Do people change? Well, I would like to think they do and Miranda became more forgiving after she got over the initial hurt. Miranda goes through several transitions which is probably hard to accept but becomes a better person due to it.

The story - for me this book almost seemed to have two distinct parts. The first half deals mostly in my eyes with Jesse's emotional turmoil and his coming to terms with who is and coming out. A big change for anyone and these things do not happen overnight. Therefore the slower pace is OK and it did still keep my interest. Tucker is the catalyst, but never forces Jesse to do anything in a rush that he may regret later. Although try as Tucker might to keep things as a light hearted affair, the lad had fallen heed over heels for Jesse but tries to deny it to himself out of self-preservation and not wanting to get hurt again. This develops the story nicely, understanding where these two characters have come from, Jesse's journey is necessary in order to understand what comes later. I could feel the emotion and internal struggle both these characters were having for very different reasons. Jesse coping with his eventual coming out and Tucker hiding his ghosts of the past from Jesse. There's no doubt these guys are in love, but neither can admit it to each other at this stage. The question is did Jesse cheat on Miranda? Well, if you think kissing is cheating then maybe, but I think the more troublesome problem was Jesse living a lie for the reasons I stated above which would eventually destroy the relationship anway. So Miranda you could say had a lucky escape before she tied the knot and the responsibilities become even more, making things even more difficult to to cope with.

In the second half of the book the pace picks up and the proverbial shit hits the fan. First at the birthday party and then later Jesse discovers Tucker's secret and comes to confront him with it, even if it was well intended Tucker couldn't deal with it and shuns Jesse away thinking he's doing him a favour and releasing him from his own fucked up world. Here Tucker cuts his nose off to spite his face. Here we see the stubborn and unreasonable Tucker. Although the hurt on both sides is big neither seem to be able to accept each other's reasons for their behaviour. Much later Tucker meets Jesse at an event with pregnant Miranda in tow. Jesse and Miranda have obviously buried the hatchet, but Tucker immediately jumps to all the wrong conclusions and sends him hurtling back into that place he had so long fought to avoid. This is where Jesse's tenacity, patience and love for Tucker pays off and they find their way back to each other again. But this time it's solid and for keeps. This part of the story left me completely wiped out with emotion, sheesh what a roller-coaster ride this was.

This book has many facets to contend with, is intricate and complex. Almost autobiographical in its nature, the book deals with many ups and downs of four characters. The only character that remains steady as a rock and a tower of strength through all of this was Alison. A safe harbour in a storm. Whatta girl! This story takes place over a long time, maybe even over a couple of years and I just felt that this was handled a little clumsily. The timescale could have been handled a little more logically and I felt at times I had missed months with no clue to as where we actually were. Almost like a mental blank out. This is only a small personal observation which has stopped me giving it four stars. But this doesn't detract from the wonderful and powerful writing, the emotion was palpable and left me emotionally drained. Kade's style is not overly flowery, but he manages to convey a power of emotion in his words that I really love. The characters were realistic and just as complicated as any real life situation. Whether we understand this or not for me doesn't matter. That's life. A great book and I will look forward to more from this author.

Another great buddy read with Tina, Macky and Gina