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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sweet Surrender by Ashleigh Walton

Sweet Surrender by Ashleigh Walton
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (200 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Cactus

Shy and self-conscious Derek has spent two years of his life losing a hefty amount of weight and is about to enter graduate school to become a certified architect. Now he’s determined to find love, so he places an Internet ad in search of a boyfriend. Gerry, a confident, self-made man with his own landscaping business, falls head over heels for Derek as soon as they meet.

While Derek’s waiting for Gerry to find something wrong with him and call the whole thing off, Gerry is hiding something from Derek, afraid of what the consequences may be when and if it's discovered. Only when they find the courage to confide in one another can they commit to love.

On his first date in years, Derek finds the man of his dreams. Derek is finally dating again as his college academics come to a close. After being overweight for many years, he’s slimmed down and decided to find someone for a real relationship. When he meets Gerry, Derek can’t believe his luck, and struggles to understand how someone as hot as Gerry could be interested in him. Unfortunately, that’s not the only hurdle they have to conquer, as real life has a way of testing every relationship.

This is a sweet, undemanding story that features some realistic men, and the problems every couple faces. Derek is struggling with low self esteem from his years being overweight and lacks a lot of confidence in himself and his abilities. He’s only 22, so he still has some maturing and growing emotionally to do, but he’s serious and intelligent. When he meets Gerry, the sparks fly but the two decide to take it slowly and get to know each other. By the time they fall in love, their relationship is going great. Here the story could have ended, but instead they’re shown dealing with various issues thrown at them in life. There are finances, and Gerry’s time consuming business as a landscaper. There is also Gerry’s mother, who is devoutly religious and doesn’t accept that her son is gay. There are living situations to think about and ensuring neither of them moves too quickly. All of this feels more like a real relationship with real men than most romance novels do.

Along those lines, Gerry’s mother is not the typical evil religious woman. Instead, she’s sympathetic as she tries to understand that the son she loves very much could be gay. Being very religious, it goes against her long-held beliefs and she struggles to understand while loving him. This is a nice departure from the more common stereotype. There are a few overly manipulated actions that force the characters to move forward and get them to acknowledge a few things due to their natural caution. Part of this is good and part of it is annoying, since the intention is clear. The pace is pretty good, making the story quick and easy to read. There is a lot of romance, such as Gerry and Derek dancing, and several sex scenes, making for a realistic, fun story.

Overall, this is a sweet, easy story that will appeal to those wanting something outside of the formulaic romance novel. Here are real men with flaws, insecurities, and real life concerns that may test their relationship. They fight and misunderstand each other, eventually learning how to communicate and they are far from perfect but they love each other and make it last. This is a true romance story.

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