Series: Rock Bottom #1
Author: Felice Stevens
Publication Date: May 13, 2019
Length: 275 pages
Justin Molina has secrets. He’s served his time but remains a prisoner of his past, unable to forgive himself for failing his family when they needed him most. Justin’s grief is overwhelming, but he keeps silent and focuses on his goals. About to graduate college, he tries to keep his head above water—no matter how many times life keeps knocking him down. When he’s forced to register for a poetry-writing class, Justin discovers putting words to his feelings might be exactly what his fractured heart needs to heal. Or is it the older professor with the bow ties and gentle smile who gives him a chance when no one else will?
Professor Foster Faraday Harding is a broken man. His divorce is final, and he’s reverted back to the safety of his books. Even his poetry no longer brings him joy; he’s sleepwalking through life. The raw emotion of Justin’s poetry awakens Foster to desires he thought long buried in the ashes of his marriage. When he discovers Justin is struggling financially, Foster offers him a solution that benefits both of them. Soon it’s Foster who’s struggling with emotions he can’t understand: Justin is his student. And a man. One crazy night years earlier doesn’t mean anything. Foster is straight.
After months of denying the growing attraction between them, an unexpected kiss changes everything. Justin and Foster are no longer only professor and student—they’ve become lovers, but the strain of hiding their relationship increases with each passing day. Words have the power not only to hurt but to heal the greatest pain. If Foster and Justin listen to what their hearts are saying, they might break through their silence and live their own love poems—together.
So, there are a few things that I look for when I’m reading. I want to be able to connect with the characters in some way, to feel what they feel and think what they think. I want to be able to completely immerse myself in their story. It doesn’t matter what genre I’m reading. If I can’t, or if something happens that pulls me out of the story, the book becomes a DNF for me.
I have never had a DNF from Felice Stevens.
Justin has entirely too much responsibility and guilt for a guy his age. He’s holding down a number of jobs to support both himself and his ailing mother, while trying to shake the stigma of being an ex-con, trying desperately to get his college education. He’s forced to take an Introduction to Poetry Writing class where his professor is Foster Harding.
Foster has his own issues to deal with including a manipulative (soon-to-be) ex wife who used him for status and money. His deceased parents weren’t really ready for the responsibility of having a child (as if anyone really is). Now here he is, in his early forties, plain lonely. The bright spot in his life is his best friend Ross who is dealing with a devastating loss of his own. I absolutely love older characters. Older gay men have seen some s#!t and have the scars to prove it. Foster is no different.
The chemistry between these two is off the charts, but neither of them feel as if they can take the next step due to their own individual responsibilities. Justin for him is his mother, jobs, and education. And Foster simply for his job. Of course, this creates the question of “will they or won’t they” (as if there’s any doubt. This is a Felice Stevens book, after all). But sometimes the journey we take is filled with rewards we never thought we deserved.
Even the supporting characters get their moments to shine, making you eagerly hope for a continuation of their stories. (I’m looking at you, Benny and Ross)
The added bonus is the poetry scattered throughout the book. It’s deep and emotional, and gives you perfect insight into Justin whose kind of rough exterior hides a man who has only ever wanted to do the right thing by his family, despite the poor decisions he’s made to do it.
All in all, this is another fine addition to Felice’s catalog, and I’m hoping for updates on a couple of the minor characters.
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