Reviewed by Kat
TITLE: Controlled Burn
AUTHOR: Erin McLellan
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 309 pages
RELEASE DATE: August 14, 2017
At eighteen, Joel Smith’s life fell to pieces. His boyfriend died in a car crash while reading a sext from him, the local newspaper outed them both in the aftermath, and his parents got a divorce. Joel did everything possible to outrun his past: he moved to Oklahoma for college, legally changed his name, and started over.
Since then, he hasn’t let anyone get close—not his classmates, not his roommate, and definitely not his hookups. The strategy has served him well for over three years. Why would he change it now?
But Joel doesn’t plan on the articles about his boyfriend’s death being used as a case study in one of his classes. And he doesn’t plan on Paulie McPherson, who is sweet and giving and fun. In Paulie, he finds a home for the first time in years.
But love isn’t simple, and lies have a tendency to get in the way. Joel must figure out if he’ll allow his grief to rule him, or if his connection with Paulie is worth letting all of his walls come tumbling down.
If you are looking for college adult drama that is very angsty and filled with self loathing dialogue then this is the book for you.
Joel has ran away from his high school life, changed his name and moved to the south to go to college. He keeps to himself, except for a few hook ups, after the press tore his life apart when his boyfriend was killed reading one of his sexts. Did I forget to mention that these two high school baseball stars were very closeted. And he will never forgive himself for Diego’s death. In walks Paulie into his class and his life. Paulie has had a very rough teen life too. Can Joel ever learn to trust and share his life with another man again?
It’s not that I didn’t like these two men. In fact I liked Paulie very much. He is warm and loving. He gives so much of himself to all of those that he loves. And it’s not that I didn’t like Joel, it’s just all his inter dialogue with himself over Diego went on and on way too long for me. I get that he was “in love” with Diego. But it felt more like puppy love between two young teens exploring their sexuality. I believe that in his heart Joel/Jared fell in love with Diego. I’m not so convinced that those feelings were ever reciprocated. My problem was that, once he knew he was in love with Paulie, he kept his mouth shut way to long, continuously hurting the man he supposedly loved and wanted to spend his life with. I wouldn’t have put up with his crap nearly as long as Paulie did!
I really liked Paulie’s Aunt Ruth. I continue to state that I don’t understand parents that can literally toss their children away just because of who they are. She is the epitome of a loving and caring “parent”. It also reiterates my belief that a parent isn’t the one who gives birth to you. It’s the one who raises and loves you through the highs and lows in life!
The bottom line is that it’s a decent book but just too angsty for me. I needed much less of Joel’s self loathing and way more of the two of them learning how to trust and love each other.