Reviewed by Donna
TITLE: The Straight Boyfriend
SERIES: Loving You #3
AUTHOR: Renae Kaye
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 237 Pages
RELEASE DATE: November 21, 2016
Aaron Hall has never been able to remain faithful to a single woman, and for most of his life, he’s dated two women at once. Recently his girlfriend tracked him down and knocked on his door—and his live-in girlfriend answered. Now he has no girlfriend and a mortgage he can’t pay by himself.
Vinnie Rosello needs to change his life—get a better job, stop drinking all his money away, find himself a serious boyfriend… and move out of his parents’ house. Aaron needs help with his expenses, so they become housemates.
Even though Aaron harbors some misconceptions about gay men and Vinnie misses his large Italian family, both men find comfort in their friendship. It’s a good arrangement until everything between them changes.
Vinnie falls in love with Aaron, and Aaron is shocked to realize he feels the same. There’s only one problem—he’s still straight. He’ll have to overcome his fear of labels in order to love the man who’s captured his heart.
At the risk of attracting some of that angry attention my way, I’m going to weigh into the argument over this book with my own review. My 5 STAR review. And why, you might ask, am I rating this so highly while other people are performing exorcisms on their kindles? Well, I’ll get to that bit. But first, let me tell you a bit about this story.
For readers of this series, the characters of Aaron and Vinnie are two that you’ll recognize. Aaron was the straight best friend of Liam, back in the first book, and Vinnie popped up as one of Jay’s friends in the second book. Which makes our two main characters part of the same friend group at the beginning of this story. Fun-loving party boy, Vinnie, has an Epiphany (yes, with a capital) and recognizes that it really is time for him to dial back on the drinking and partying and finally move out of his parent’s house. Conveniently for Vinnie, Aaron needs a housemate when his girlfriend moves out after meeting his…other girlfriend. That’s right folks. Aaron is a cheater-cheater-pumpkin-eater, who has never been faithful to a girlfriend in his life. And it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s bisexual.
Which brings us to the first issue that some people seem to have with this book. Aaron is a man-ho who cheats on girls with other girls. When he starts dating Vinnie he’s scared that he will cheat on him with girls too. Because that’s just how he rolls. It isn’t that he can’t settle on just males or just females – that old well-debunked bisexual myth. His problem is that he has no impulse control and can’t keep little Aaron in his pants. So in my opinion you can hate on Aaron all you like. I certainly didn’t like him. Actually he’s the first character that Renae Kaye has written that I didn’t like. But that doesn’t mean I have to hate the author. Or the rest of the book. Because while I had to tilt my head and squint to see Aaron’s good qualities, I still enjoyed the dynamics and the romance between him and Vinnie.
Actually I loved the dynamics between all of the characters in this story. There has been a rather large cast building over the three books and they all come together here, plus a few new faces such as the entire Rosello family. I loved the snarky comments, the quirky quips and the outright hilarious conversations between the extensive group of friends. From Vinnie’s Epiphanies/Epoofanies, to appeals for “ravishment”, to multiple characters’ concerns about farting in bed, this author has yet to write a book that has failed to entertain me.
But funnily enough, the thing I liked most about this book, is the thing that appears to be causing the greatest concern amongst other people. I’ve always had a fascination with labels and how different people rate their importance, or unimportance as the case may be. I mentioned this briefly in my review of the previous book in this series and it comes up again here. Now I’m in no way suggesting that bierasure is not a real issue, but I after reading this entire book, I honestly can’t see that Aaron’s character would be ready after such a short time to turn around and admit that he was bisexual. If, in fact, he even is bisexual. Until Vinnie came along Aaron was completely into females. Literally. Several females. Several times a week. He didn’t suddenly see Vinnie and think, well hey that guy is hot. Instead he found himself growing closer and closer to his friend until he was forced to question if he could handle a sexual relationship with him – because he wanted to be with him in every other way and that was pretty much the final step. But although Aaron was willing to think long and hard about whether this makes him gay or bisexual he decides that he’s still straight, but with a boyfriend. Which is where my fascination with labels comes into it. Obviously there are people out there (real life and fictional) who are lying to themselves in dangerous ways, but why do all of them have to be wrong? If a transgender woman knows that she’s a woman despite the fact that she was born in a male body – we believe her. If a man has sex with a man but honestly feels that straight is the label that fits him – why shouldn’t we believe him? I loved the fact that Aaron put his foot down and said – nah ah, I’m straight, but I love my boyfriend. And I loved that the author let him do it.
So, in a nutshell, a rather rambly this-is-how-my-head-works nutshell, those are my thoughts on this somehow controversial book. This is my perspective. I’m not saying anyone is right or wrong, everyone is entitled to an opinion, but at least I read it before judging it.
I absolutely recommend this. I think most people will read it without even realizing there’s any drama surrounding its release. It’s typical Renae Kaye. Upbeat, fun and well written.