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: A Shot at Forgiveness
Author: Cardeno C
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 16,641 words, 68 pages
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: 2013 Daily Dose – Make a Play series, Closeted, Enemies to Lovers (Sorta), Ex-Bullies, Forgiveness, OFY, Interracial, Light & Sweet, Sports, Yearning
Rating: Pretty Good
Reviewed by Nikyta
A dozen years, two thousand miles, and a law degree after high school, Rafi Steiner continues to harbor resentment toward Isaac Jones, his childhood bully turned NBA star. When Isaac appears at Rafi’s favorite restaurant acting like a long-lost friend, Rafi bluntly dismisses him.
But Isaac is tenacious and has his heart set on the grown-up version of the boy he always wanted and never forgot. The way Isaac sees it, he and Rafi are perfect for each other, if only he could sink the most important shot of his life: his one shot at forgiveness.
Still harboring bitterness toward his high school bully, Isaac Jones, Rafi is flabbergasted when Isaac stumbles across him and acts like they’re long lost friends. While Rafi just wants to get as far away from Isaac as possible, Isaac has something else in mind, a secret he’s been keeping since they went to school together. Determination doesn’t even begin to describe Isaac when he’ll do whatever it takes to win Rafi over once and for all.
At first, Rafi is standoffish and borderline rude to Isaac. It was interesting to see how angry Rafi was towards Isaac even twelve years after the fact. As the story progresses, Rafi melts to Isaac’s charms, which was definitely entertaining! Isaac, on the other hand, is persistent and will do anything (even breaking and entering) to worm his way into Rafi’s life and heart. It was funny to see Isaac think what he was doing was okay when it was obvious Rafi hated Isaac being there. I found Isaac just so adorable. He’s a bit of a stalker and slightly obsessed but this big, tall guy that wasn’t afraid of anything was afraid of Rafi’s rejection BUT even when Rafi did reject him, he kept coming back and breaking down Rafi’s walls until Rafi admitted defeat.
If you haven’t already guessed, this story revolves around forgiveness. Rafi is very hurt by how Isaac used to treat him. However, as the story evolves, you realize that Rafi’s view on everything isn’t exactly the whole picture. What you come to realize is that Isaac might have said some mean things to Rafi but his actions were quite different. Rafi remembers Isaac as this mean, cruel bully but as it’s remembers (sans flashbacks thankfully!), he’s portrayed as this hero. Constantly saving Rafi from getting injured or hurting himself more than his klutziness already has. It’s sweet in a way but it’s obvious that Rafi was a little oblivious to this because of his focus on Isaac’s words instead of his actions.
The story had a lot of potential but I think, considering the length of the book, it didn’t exactly live up to that potential. While entertaining and enjoyable, I felt like some things were rushed or even were easy platitudes considering the situation. For instance, the resolution to Isaac coming out was nice but we don’t actually see it put into action so that felt too ‘easy,’ IMO. I felt like Rafi also caved too early to Isaac’s pursuits. Rafi was basing his forgiveness off Isaac’s sexual prowess instead of actually making Isaac grovel in a nonsexual way, which had me a bit sad because it would have been funny seeing Isaac doing whatever Rafi wanted without hesitation. I’m not usually one to get hung up on endearments but I didn’t like Isaac calling Rafi ‘boo’ it kept making me feel like Rafi was just a one-night stand that Isaac would forget in the morning. While that is obviously NOT the case, I couldn’t help feel like it wasn’t appropriate to who Rafi was to Isaac. Aside from that, Rafi had a tendency to think of Isaac as ‘Isaac Jones’ as if he was still in awe over Isaac, which got slightly annoying towards the end of the book and even though he was in love and comfortable around Isaac, he still considered him as ‘Isaac Jones.’ Lastly, I wished there had been some scenes of Isaac meeting Rafi’s friends or vice versa just to show that these two are serious because, unfortunately, most of the scenes of them together consist of them in Rafi’s apartment (more specifically his bedroom).
Overall, this was a very cute short story. It’s light-hearted and liable to give you a silly little smile. The characters were amusing and their journey to forgiveness was entertaining. I really wish this book had been much longer, though, because I feel like a little more groveling on Isaac’s part was needed but other than that, it’s a good story for someone who’s looking for something light and sweet.
Posted by Nikyta in 16-40k, 4 Pretty Good, Authors A-C, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: 2013 Daily Dose - Make a Play, Cardeno C, Closeted, Dreamspinner Press, Enemies to Lovers, Ex-Bullies, Forgiveness, GFY/OFY, Interracial, Light & Sweet, Sports, Yearning