Title: You Are Not Me
Series: '90s Coming of Age, #2
Author: Leta Blake
Publisher: Leta Blake Books
Release Date: 11/28/2016
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Length: 100,000 words
Genre: New Adult, coming of age
SynopsisFollow Peter into the summer following his senior year to face new beginnings, new friends, and old baggage. After a tumultuous final year of high school, Peter Mandel needs a break. It's the summer of 1991, and his secret relationship with his ‘best friend’ Adam Algedi is put on hold as Adam goes away to Italy for the summer. On the cusp of adulthood, Peter has a couple of months to explore who he is without Adam at his side. Enter Daniel McPeak, a slightly older, out, responsible college guy with a posse of gay friends and an attraction for Peter. Drawn into the brave new world of the local gay club, Peter embarks on a whirlwind of experiences—good and bad—which culminate in a hotel room where he has to make the ultimate choice. But Adam will come back eventually, and there are promises that have to be kept. As autumn draws near and college awaits, can Peter break free of the binds of twisted first love? And what exactly is Daniel's role in his life - a brief temptation, or something more? Join Peter in the second book of this four-part coming of age series as he struggles to love and be loved, and grow into a gay man worthy of his own respect. *** This new series by Leta Blake is gay fiction with romantic elements. Book 2 of 4. Length: 100,000 words, 328 pages These books contain aspects of: New Adult fiction, ‘90s gay life, small city homosexual experiences, Southern biases, sexual exploration, romance, homophobia, bisexuality, and twisted-up young love. Oh, and a guaranteed happy ending for the main character by the end of Book 4.
So. Here we are again. Leta Blake sure knows how to bring the pain ... and the angst and the feels, doesn't she? If you have not started her '90's Coming of Age series, stop immediately and fix that. Like right now. The second book of the series, You Are Not Me, is every bit an emotional roller coaster as the first book, Pictures of You. And probably a little more. A few things before we get much farther. These books are not stand alone's so if you haven't read the first book, you won't have any idea what's going on because You Are Not Me picks up right after the end of book 1. Next, this isn't your typical romance. So if you're expecting hearts and flowers and lots of swoony sighs, this isn't that kind of book. Also, Leta has mentioned numerous times that this series will be four books long and as such, things are still developing and changing, so if you're thinking that things are settled, think again. You will laugh and cry, a lot, in You Are Not Me. And oh my will you ever get angry and frustrated. But this series is about a journey, as the name suggests, so be prepared for all manner of ups and downs and sideways and back steps. It's all worth it in the end.
Our hero, Peter Mandel, has just graduated from high school. His closeted and secret boyfriend, Adam Algedi is off to spend the summer in Italy and at the end of book 1, Peter vowed to use their time apart to make some changes to his life. He's willing to wait for Adam, who has promised that they'll be able to be together once he gets back from overseas and they both start college (even though they'll be attending different colleges). Nice words for sure, and while Peter clings to the hope that Adam--who has not had the best track record in the past of keeping his promises--means what he says this time, a part of him knows that things are going to change once again. He's come out to his parents, he's making new gay friends and having experiences, both good and bad, that continually shape his beliefs not only in the world around him, but in himself, too. I love Peter as much in You Are Not Me as I did in Pictures of You, but man oh man did I ever want to give him a swift kick in the ass on SO many occasions. Growing up is never easy, is it? We all make choices that have consequences and we hopefully learn from our mistakes. The way Leta has Peter take a step forward in finding himself only to fall back is frustrating for sure, but it's very realistic as well.
I adored the addition of the Tilt-a-Whirl gang. Minty and Windy and Antonio and Daniel (who we did meet in book one) brought so much to this book and just highlighted how much more Peter has to learn. I loved how involved Robert and Barry are in Peter's life and I think they really provide some much needed guidance for our young and often clueless hero. I was happy to see Mike again, and I hope he's around in the following books. Peter's experience with Bobby was so poignant and emotional and really brought home how much AIDS and HIV impacted everyone at the time. And I have to mention Peter's mom, who after book one I was so not a fan of, but oh how Leta has redeemed her. Both of Peter's parents actually. The honesty and the communication between them all was refreshing and they've become such a support for Peter. Peter's world is expanding, he's trying new things, he's making new friends but the pull Adam has on him is still always there. Even with the growing attraction between Peter and Daniel, Adam is always there.
So, let's talk about Adam a bit, okay? This guy. *sigh* I have no idea where Leta is going with him, even at the end of Your Are Not Me, it feels like there's more to come. I don't think it's going to be pretty though, what comes next. In Pictures of You I could empathize with him and his situation. He's terrified of his father finding out he's bisexual, and with good reason. And then we have Leslie, the other person Adam is in love with, who STILL doesn't know about Peter and what he means to Adam. I just can't see this turning out well at all. And really Adam's feelings for Peter seem to border on obsession way more than they do true love. He's so manipulative and conniving, and SO very good and guilting Peter into saying and doing things, even though Peter knows better (no matter how much he is ruled a bit by a very healthy sexual appetite). My sympathy for Adam has come to an end, though. Peter needs to move on from him and I hope he does, for his own sake. The loss of a first love is always traumatic and to some extent I can get behind Peter's refusal to let Adam go, but I really hope he does. And it's not just because of Daniel, who is just so perfect for Peter. Daniel is everything Peter needs- caring, supportive, patient, and let's not forget just downright swoony as all hell, too. Because, jeesh, he's fabulous.
I'm so looking forward to the next stop on Peter's journey. He's got a ways to go yet, but I sure am rooting for him. He's young and imperfect and continually growing and learning. Leta Blake has written a magnificent tale of finding your path and yourself, and how the things you learn and the people that come into your life have a way of shaping you. It's not always easy. There is pain and tears and such heartbreak, but the reward of coming out the other side is worth it. Leta's writing as always is incredible, and the pop culture references sure brought me back and made You Are Not Me come alive. People, this series is special. Truly special and one not to missed. I know a lot of folks like waiting until a series is done before diving in but in this case the journey, the waiting for what comes next, is to be savored to really appreciate what Leta has done with these characters. Don't wait. Anticipate with the rest of us, you won't be sorry if you do!