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    A Curious Romance

    I’ve not read the first two in this series, but also did not feel that I was missing anything crucial from them, either, so I qualify this as working just fine as a standalone. Sandy is a 19 year old living with parents who are not supportive of his sexual orientation. He decides he’d be better off elsewhere, so he heads off to a friend’s place, and then his gay uncle contacts him and Sandy heads for Uncle Phinney’s place in Portland. He quickly hooks up with Dare, a troubled teen living with one of his mother’s ex-boyfriends, who has enough issues to publish a magazine, and who disappears after a couple of months without a trace. A few months further down the line, Sandy, Phineas, and Phinney’s partner, Cody, head back to Illinois for Thanksgiving via train, and Sandy discovers that Jade, his first same-sex experiment partner from high school, is also on the train heading home to see his dad. He learns that Jade has crushed on him for several years, and discovers that he’s feeling much the same way. But living in two different cities could make a relationship difficult. This is a sweet and somewhat sappy new adult romance with moments of what the heck?? Being teenagers, falling in love is as easy as breathing, so there is very little angsting going on over their relationship. In fact, there is significantly more angst regarding Dare than anything else in the book. There is a lot of time devoted to Sandy’s first gay relationship, and while I understand showing some of Sandy’s growth as a bisexual man, Dare isn’t part of the pair destined to come together in this book. That bothered me greatly, because it felt like Jade and Sandy’s story was then rushed through and not given time to really develop as new adults because of this other relationship (and all the drama surrounding it). Jade is adorable, free-spirited, fully accepted by his father and able to spread his wings and fly knowing that his family has his back. Witty, sweet, and supportive, he’s what parents dream their child will find for a partner in life! However, he didn’t feature very much in a book that is supposed to be his HEA (or HFN as teenagers go), and that left me somewhat sad. The premise was good, but the Dare relationship scenes left something to be desired as I mentioned above, and the pacing is a somewhat jerky as a result. The chemistry between Sandy and Jade was smooth as honey, with both boys coming together in a manner most serene. I was surprised that there wasn’t any upset at all over Dare moving into Phineas’ house, just “I love you and I support you.” Most adults would have had an issue with the ex moving in, so to see something different in hormonal teenagers is almost beyond belief. I’m also baffled at why Phineas would allow Dare to move into his home when he wasn’t there, knowing the issues that Dare has had. That just didn’t sit right with me, and then following the dramatic twist toward the end when the friends were all “don’t say anything until he’s coming home” stunned me. Again, this was all Dare and not Sandy and Jade, taking away from their story. In the end, while I enjoyed the book, I was left feeling cheated out of the Sandy/Jade story for the Dare story-that-wasn’t. As such, I’m rating this at 3.5 stars, rounding down for sites that don’t accept halves. I hope that Sandy and Jade are revisited, as there is much that can be done with them. ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review by Divine Magazine.

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