Title: Cold Hands (College Fun & Gays #6)
Author: Erica Pike
Publisher: Self Published (Ice Cave)
Length: 13,900 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Sequel, Series, Short Story, Enemies to Lovers, Ex-Bullies/Bullying, College, Past Abuse, Hurt/Comfort, Second Chances, Grovel you Bastard!, Public Sex, Carnivals
Rating: Really Liked It
“Hot-Hands” and Casper have been dating for a month, but their relationship is about as smooth as shattered glass. It doesn’t help that Hot-Hands is racked with guilt over his high school bullying of Casper, or that Casper darts away whenever his boyfriend gets a little too frisky.
Desperate to hang onto Casper, Hot-Hands tries to earn back the trust he destroyed years ago, so they can face their disastrous past and have a chance at a happy future.
Note: Cold Hands focuses on high school bullying for being gay. This is the sequel to Hot Hands and contains big spoilers if read first. Hot Hands is free of charge here.
Hot Hands was by far my favorite story in Erica Pike’s College Fun and Gay series, so you can imagine my excitement when she said that she was writing a sequel. Cold Hands is almost as much of an antithesis to that first story as it’s title. Hot Hands introduces us to Casper — a college student who was brutally bullied, more like abused, in high school for being gay — and his ex-bully and middle school crush Jaime. Casper shows up to college and is surprised and devastated to learn that one of the ring leaders of the guys who tormented him is not only there but also in some of his classes. He does everything he can to avoid Jaime, but doesn’t know that a lot of Jaime’s bullying stemmed from his own awakening homosexual feelings towards Cass. His physical and emotional abuse for most of his teen years have really impacted him. He’s shy and doesn’t understand why he’s still attracted to one of the men who abused him, which also messes with his head. His attachments soon turn to another man, however, a man he starts to call “Hot-Hands” because of the way the man’s hands draw him out and make him feel sexy and interesting whenever he’s accosted by this same hard-breathing man in the dark. It’s a serious case of having a secret admirer, but Casper has his suspicions and soon finds them proven wrong. All that time, Casper had inadvertently been giving himself up to the man who caused him so much pain and now he’s more confused than ever.
Cold Hands resumes this story from Jaime’s point of view, which is a serious change in how we understand the story. Cass is a thinker who constantly analyzes his feelings and thoughts, but because of their unique relationship he knows very little about what Jaime really thinks and Jaime’s motives. The change in point of view starts this sequel off on a different foot. We immediately see that Jaime has real regret about the way he treated Cass in the past and that his feelings now are genuine, and also that he’s a different man now. He understands himself and has grow up in the two years they spend apart. Now, he’s out of the closet and over the shame that he grew up with from a conservative family and town. Still, Cass doesn’t know that. He’s still confused about Jaime’s motives and his own. How can he trust himself and his feelings if he’s seriously considering having a relationship with his abuser?
The real difference between the first story and the second isn’t the point of view, but in the focus of their relationship. If you look at these stories together as one, then this story is the payoff. The first was the setup, the background and the premise — the meetings in the dark with Casper’s “secret admirer” and the subsequent reveal of his real identity — but, Cold Hands is the meat and bones of their relationship. This story carries on to peel back the layers and find out if these guys have a solid base to build any relationship upon and how they go about doing that. The change in point of view facilitates that because by nature of their relationship as abuser/victim, Jaime automatically sees the bigger picture than Cass. Casper is still mired in confusion about his feelings and dealing with understanding Jaime and his actions and in evidence of how that abuse affected him, he’s battling his own self-esteem.
I’m so glad that Erica decided to continue their story because I think that it is only in retrospect that this story feels as if it completed the first. Cold Hands makes the whole story better by giving us a chance to see them work through the consequences of their actions in the first story, and that in turn gives them the HEA they deserve. This also shows in the sex in both stories. So much of the first story takes place while Casper thinks “Hot-Hands” is someone else entirely that a lot of those scenes were exploratory, sexy and hot in a situational way, playing on the mysterious suitor with a dirty and exhibitionist twist. I read that story as a really good piece of erotica with an engaging plot. This story moves their physical relationship into a place of intimacy, so much so that it’s often too difficult for Casper to really handle.
I definitely recommend these stories to all of you, though you absolutely have to read Hot Hands first. Well done Erica and thank you for writing this story so I could spend more time with Cass and Jaime!
Posted by Cole in 5 Really Like It, Authors P-R, Contemporary, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex, up to 15k Tags: Bullies/Bullying, Carnival, College, Enemies to Lovers, Erica Pike, Ex-Bullies, Grovel you Bastard!, Hurt/Comfort, Past Abuse, Public Sex, Second Chances, Self Published, Sequel, Series, Short Story
Title: Welcome, Brother (College Fun and Gays #5)
Author: Erica Pike
Publisher: No Boundaries Press
Length: 15,600 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Short Story, College, Bullying, Frats, Best Friends
Rating: So So
When arts student Kyler Morris applies for membership to The Nova Britannia Brotherhood, he’s immediately floored by their intimidating leader, Hunter Kingsley. Fellow arts student Hunter, however, isn’t the bad-ass he’s made out to be and takes Kyler under his wing.
While Kyler struggles to keep his crush under control and his sexuality hidden from the Brothers, Hunter battles daemons of his own in the form of two Brothers who aren’t playing by the rules.
The first thing you need to know about this story is just how different it is from the other stories in the series. They’ve all been heavy on sex and kink but with enough plot not to be fluff. Welcome, Brother has hardly any sex at all and deals with some heavier issues than the others, namely bullying.
I read this story right when it came out a few weeks ago and I have to admit that I didn’t write a review for it right away because I wasn’t quite sure what to say. Not only was it not what i was expecting, I couldn’t quite decide how much I liked it. On the one hand, some of the writing is beautiful and heartfelt. On the other hand, I wasn’t quite sure that I’d call this a romance. Maybe an unconventional one, at best. While there is definitely a love story, the story is more about Kyler and his journey to it than about the relationship itself, which develops later in the story. But, it depends up on you as a reader whether that’s something you like or don’t. I think that I would have liked this a little better if I felt there was more interaction between Kyler and Hunter. Still, I’m not quite sure. It happens pretty rarely 😉 but this is just one of those stories that I finished and had no idea how I felt about it, and really, that I felt had a strange tone. I haven’t read any of the other reviews, but I’d be interested to see how this is received. It’s definitely not my favorite of the College Fun & Sex stories from Erica Pike, but all her stories in this series have been a bit unconventional. It’s possible that I just wasn’t in the right mood or frame of mind to really get this story and what it was trying to do when I read it.
A bit about the plot and characters:
Kyler Morris (who, incidentally, in my head I kept picturing as Kyler Moss, the twinkalicious porn star!) wants to become a member of The Nova Britannia Brotherhood. It’s more than a fraternity, both in the fact that unlike regular fraternities, The Brotherhood is more respectable and less about getting bombed every weekend, and the fact that the brothers are incredibly tight, and entrance into the select group of men means a lifetime family and a leg up in life from other members. But, most daunting is Hunter Kingsley, the President of The Brotherhood and an icon at their school. He’s beautiful, perfect and has unbelievable feats to his name, almost to the point of legend.
Kyler is intimidated by the in depth interview, which includes Hunter as one on the panel. But, he’s shortlisted and soon becomes a new recruit. Among the brothers, he meets Liu, a straight guy, brother ahead of Kyler, who is dealing with some bullying from other brothers. In some ways, this dose of reality (that all isn’t perfect among the brothers), I think, temper’s Kyler’s already guarded thoughts about coming out, or whether his being gay will hurt his application into the fraternity. Liu, however, is a quick friend, and having a friend who went through what Kyler is right now help him. As Kyler becomes a brother and his friendship grows with Liu, he’s forced to face some of the ugliness behind The Brotherhood, and in all this becomes closer to Hunter Kingsley.
Like I said before, it’s something I can’t really name but something in this story felt like it was missing. I can’t even really tell you why I only liked it So So, other than the fact that I felt like I would have liked to see more progression in Kyler and Hunter’s relationship.
I would recommend this to fans of the series (with the known caveat that it’s quite different than those) and fans of Erica Pike. It’s too bad, however, that this is the last of the College stories Erica is writing 😦 It’s a shame and I’ve enjoyed them all as they each came out over the last year or so!
Posted by Cole in 3 So So, Authors P-R, Contemporary, Heat 2 - Romantic & Tame, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between, up to 15k Tags: Best Friends, Bullies/Bullying, College, College Fun & Gays, Erica Pike, Frat Boys, No Boundaries Press, Series, Short Story