New Release Review: Level Hands by Amy Jo Cousins

Level HandsLevel Hands by Amy Jo Cousins
Bend or Break #4
Genre: M/M NA Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: August 25th, 2015
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, LTD

Synopsis from Goodreads:

When it comes to love, there’s no such thing as smooth sailing.

Rafael Castro is so far out of his element he can’t even see it anymore. Carlisle College in Massachusetts is a long way from his Chicago home, even farther from his Dominican Republic roots.

The only thing keeping him attached to his last nerve is the prospect of seeing Denny Winslow again. The first time they met, Denny taught Rafi to fly across the water, rowing hard in a knife-like boat. Now, two years later, on the wings of a rowing scholarship, Rafi is attending Denny’s elite college.

Even before the excitement wears off, Rafi is struggling with classes and fending off rumors that Denny’s family, not Rafi’s talent, won him his spot. To quash the gossip, Rafi tries to steer clear of the man he wants. A plan that evaporates in the fire of renewed attraction.

But Carlisle’s academic pressure cooker has Rafi barely treading water. And when a family crisis hits, both Rafi and Denny must pull hard to keep their relationship from capsizing in rough waters.

Warning: Contains a surly Dominican-American guy determined to show no weakness, a golden boy who knows his soft spots, some seriously dirty bachata dancing, and an excellent excuse for voyeurism in the locker room.


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Wendy’s Review

I think my problem with NA is how it always seems have to have an overload of angst and shades of inappropriate behavior?  What about New Adults who have their crap together and don’t want to deal with troublemakers or unnecessary heartache?  That’s why I loved Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy so much.  It was about two people who mostly had their crap together, and how they tried to operate in ways that didn’t hurt the other person.

In Level Hands there was a lot of unnecessary angst.  In the first half I found myself wanting to pull my hair out and scream at Rafi, beg him to get over himself and stop being his own roadblock.  In my opinion, a constant frustrating anger is never a good place to be when reading a book.  A burst of anger is fine, a simmering anger underneath is fine, but a constant agonizing anger is just bad because it in turns reflects on the book as a whole.  It stops being ‘I hate that character’ and it becomes ‘I hate that book’.

Luckily in Level Hands I came to grips with Rafi’s character and I started recognizing his viewpoints as coming from someone in a minority trying to prove himself.  Rafi was uncomfortable with feeling like he got his scholarship to meet a ‘racial quota’.  Denny’s helping him get that scholarship made him feel worse about what their friendship/relationship looked like to other people.  He wanted to stand on his own feet.

Denny recognized this and was so very patient.  He was far more patient that I think he should have been.  I would have given up on a relationship with Rafi after the first couple months.

Once I came to terms with Rafi’s head space I started enjoying the story more, and in the end I was pretty happy with it.  I even joined Amy Jo Cousins mailing list so I could get the bonus chapter, and I went back and looked at the previous books in the series, wanting to read MORE.  In particular I want to read the story of Cash and Steph, because that includes when Rafi and Denny first met and even the flashbacks of their meeting were awesome!

Conclusion – After an uphill battle I got to a satisfying end.  4 stars!

Thank you to Samhain Publishing and Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  = B

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