Reviewed by Alex A. Akira
Rainbow Book Reviews
I loved this sizzling episode of the SSU Boys series, which features college freshman Liam, the hunky farm boy who appeared in the back half the previous book, ‘Smitten’, and the exquisite Japanese-American Blake, an independent, goal-orientated dancer who is paying his way through college by strip dancing. From the first chapter the fire between these two college boys fairly melted my Kindle and I could not put this book down until I’d finished it.
Tall, brawny, and confident, Liam has always been surrounded by females eager to gain his attention. He’s entertained enough of these willing partners to assume his sexuality lies firmly on the straight and narrow. One look at the captivating, near-nude male writhing in dance at a truck stop bar propels him to a level of heated lust that has him scrambling to assert control over his libido—and his sanity. Determined to ignore the gorgeous, but uncompromising Blake, for the first time in his life Liam is assaulted by emotions he has never faced before, among them—fear. Is Blake the one for Liam and if he is, does it mean Liam is gay? And if he is gay, can he handle it? Can his family? And worse…does Blake feel anything for him?
Poised and self reliant, pocket-Adonis Blake has only one thing on his mind—completing his last year of college and landing a job as a dance instructor. This will provide him the stability in life he’s never had. Stripping to earn his tuition has taught Blake to tune out the attentions of the salivating admirers who cram his briefs with hard cash—they will only obstruct his goals. So what is it about the hunky, too-hot-for-his-own-damn-good Liam that Blake can’t ignore? “Farm boy” is straight or so he says…so why can’t Blake stop thinking about him? Liam is a dangerous obsession Blake can’t afford, but the fire between the two burns hotter with each encounter, and working at the same club ignites a blaze that can’t be put out.
This is a fantastic story! I laughed, I cried, I wept, and I loved every minute of it. The characters are complex and rich with emotion and personality, adding to the exciting, almost dogfight of a romance between these two enchanting men. Familiar characters from the previous books appear and it is great to revisit the old gang, but it is the inner angst and the “swept away” emotion of the two leads which make this book a truly sparkling male-male romance.
Liam is beyond hot as the “undeclared” of the title. Experiencing his cool confidence rocket to hot confusion and descend to chilling fear—before his innate courage and easy charm reinstated itself—was a real treat. Kudos to the author for the lovely sketches of his physical appearance that in my mind took on the likeness of a buff, towheaded Elan Scully.
Blake was equally superb as the sassy, self-assured Japanese-American and his scrappy charm was only heightened by his poignant choice to place his fragile heart on the line for love. And dayum, the scene where he dresses as a girl to experience a dance with Liam nearly tore my heart out. That’s not a spoiler because much occurred between these two hot men that spun my heart, head, and libido…in all the right ways.
Maris Black has always created a holistic, almost 3-D reading experience in her books and that sublime quality has simply ratcheted to another level with this story. Excellent settings, concise, but fulfilling descriptions, and the inclusion of family backstories, add warmth, depth, and humor, which balance perfectly with the heat and passion of the love story. The heat and passion scenes are a lovely mix of playful, raunch, and sizzle and increase the intensity of this riveting, sensual romance. I highly recommend this book and the entire series, a prime example of excellent male-male Romance!
Thank you, Maris Black, for this mesmerizing and memorable “dance of love” story.
“Dazzling, Tender, Scorcher!”