You see Nic Starr is another Sydney author and one that I happened to have met! I’m not sure if that meeting went as well in my head as everyone else’s, but I’m going to say yes and let the rest go.
When I got home, I got one of her books, the one in the prize actually, to read and review. And I have to say it’s a lovely story.
It’s Not Easy is a friends to lovers tale that is sweet and easy to read, it has some angst, that’s more about backstory then the story itself. More so, it’s a book about growing up, at least that’s how I read it. it’s one of those tails you’d find in most of your “coming of age” books where it’s not about discovery but about being who you need to be and accepting that it isn’t what someone else has been telling you.
I don’t care that they are older than most “coming of age” books are, because I never really saw that as a thing, some people come of age at 12, when they are kicked out onto the streets, or there family have all died in a horrifying or tragic way. or a hundred other ways I don’t want to elaborate on in this post.
Coming of age could be when you are 40 and realise what you’ve been thinking your whole life is wrong and you take those steps, the ones that will set you free.
That is how I saw this book. That is what I felt it was about, about the everyday and then suddenly seeing that you’ve been hiding under the blankets and then doing something to change it, to become a man.
It’s about discovering yourself, and what it means to be you, and a lot of the time it’s hard decision or facing up to the fact that you might disappoint those you want to shine in front of.
I ramble, here’s an excerpt
BEN COOPER was the most beautiful man Spencer Henderson had ever seen. Not that he would ever tell him that. Skin the color of honey that went an even deeper gold in the heat of summer, spectacular green eyes, and dark hair that he had always kept short. The last year or so, it was perhaps a little longer on top and tousled, partly from styling but mainly, Spencer knew, from the way Ben ran his hands through it at regular intervals.
Even as Spencer looked across at him now, he ran the fingers of one hand through his hair as he laughed at something Dave was saying. They sat on the sofa, side by side, beers in hand, reminiscing about some soccer game. Spence thought it was the game they had played the weekend before, the one where some crazy dog had darted out onto the field and caused havoc—hugely funny to watch, but the team had never really got back into the swing of things after that and had ended up losing the game. Not good for someone as competitive as Ben.
Ben had always been involved in some sort of sport, ever since Spencer had known him, which felt like forever. They met when Spence moved in down the street just as they were both starting high school and had stayed friends ever since. His body reflected the amount of time he spent doing physical activity with a defined layer of muscle over his six foot two inch frame. He had broad shoulders and narrow hips and moved with amazing grace for someone his size.
His body was a masterpiece, but it was the way he was so comfortable in his own skin and not even aware of the impact he had on others that made him all the more attractive. He always got second glances from boys and girls alike.
Right then, it was Suzie’s turn. From her seat at the dining table, she was staring at Ben, so focused on him that Melanie had to wave her hand to get her attention. Suzie and Mel had been their friends forever too. Mel had been dating Dave since high school, but Suzie was single and her mission was to remedy that as soon as possible, with Ben as her target. She had flirted with him for years but had really upped her game lately, probably realizing that if it didn’t happen soon it would never happen.
Spence glanced back at Ben, just as he looked in his direction. He flashed that brilliant smile of his and raised his beer bottle in salute, so Spence picked up his own from on top of the mantelpiece, against which he had been leaning, and saluted in return.
“Hey, bud, get over here,” called Dave. “You’ve got to hear this story.”
“I was there, Dave, I was there.” Spence couldn’t think of the last time he missed seeing Ben play. He supported the team and Ben at every opportunity, happy to see his friend playing the game he loved. At one point, he thought that Ben might have tried to go professional, but he’d nixed that pretty quickly. Ian Cooper, Ben’s father, had firm ideas of what his boy should be doing, and mucking around with sport wasn’t it. He could almost recite the lecture himself from the number of times he had heard Mr. Cooper prattle on about the merits of a real job, knuckling down and taking life seriously.
So Ben had changed his dreams, not willing to upset his father. Thank goodness his desire to establish a landscaping business received the tick of approval because Spence didn’t think he could have handled the response if it didn’t. Though it didn’t happen now, Ben’s asshole of a father hadn’t hesitated to use his fists to direct Ben down whatever path he saw fit. The man was a builder by trade, large and bulky, with a hair trigger temper and a propensity for whiskey to go with it.
The combination resulted in Ben spending many a night down the road at Spence’s place, licking his wounds and waiting for his dad’s hangover to wear off. His own parents were happy to give Ben refuge, but Ben refused to consider anything long term, worried about his sister, a couple of years younger and who still lived at home.
Dragging his thoughts back to the present and on to happier topics, he wandered over and dropped into the armchair to join the conversation.
It’s Not Easy by Nic Starr
Published 23rd July 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
Contemporary LGBT Romance
Ben Cooper gave up on following his dreams to keep the peace in his family. Best friend Spencer Henderson has always been Ben’s rock. For Spence, who is in love with Ben, supporting Ben always came first, but as Ben starts to date their friend Suzie, Spence has to think of himself for the first time. The ramifications of one fateful night means leaving their small town may be Spence's only option to protect his broken heart.
With trouble escalating at home and Spence out of reach, Ben finds it harder to cope. Without Spence's help, Ben's life may finally spiral out of control.
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