Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: Honey and Heat
AUTHOR: Rian Durant
PUBLISHER: NineStar Press
LENGTH: 202 pages
RELEASE DATE: September 4, 2017
Linden has only one thing on his mind a few days away from Christmas—his pending university exams. That is, until he meets his neighbors’ son who has returned for the holidays. Brice Stevens is gorgeous, but he’s insufferable.
It’s Linden’s first love, and he falls hard for Brice, despite Brice’s occasionally aloof and cool behavior. It’s an emotional ride for both of them while Linden takes a crash course in real love and Brice learns to trust in a relationship.
Linden doesn’t have a lot of friends or family to spend the holidays with. His few friends are busy dancing around each other, trying to decide if they want to be a couple and his family is long gone. So when Christmas time rolls around once again, Linden’s big worry is university exams and whether or not his elderly neighbors will like the gifts he cobbled together for them. His plans take a big hit though, when he runs into the couple’s wealthy, if distant, son. Brice is everything that Linden has always been sure he can’t have. Brice seems to think otherwise, though.
I think the first thing I should say about this book is that it isn’t badly written. The characters were interesting, and while I think the setting could have been better flushed out (I wanna say this is set in Germany, but to be honest the book was never quite clear on that point), I liked the atmosphere created in this story.
However, I am not quite sure that I buy this book is a “romance” like it seems to be sold as. Mostly because the “romance” between Brice and Linden kinda sent all kinda of warning flags up related to how Brice treated Linden throughout this story. Brice treats Linden horribly throughout this whole book. He’ll go from nice to demeaning and hurtful at the flip of a switch. Then the next day he’ll try to buy Linden’s forgiveness with half-hearted apologies and expensive gifts–only then to proposition the guy for sex. He doesn’t really listen to Linden. He is controlling and dismisses him when Linden is “in the way,” only to then get angry when Linden–who is not actually dating Brice–dares to think about kissing some other guy.
If these are not giant warning signs that Brice is going to turn out to be emotionally, if not physically, abusive, I have not clue what is. And I’m not sure I am at all comfortable recommending a book that basically sells an abusive relationship as love or romance.
You might read the blurb or see the cover and think “cute fluffy holiday story” but, yeah, this is not that. And it doesn’t seem to know that the romance is all kinds of messed up either, which is rather disturbing. Linden is constantly going on about how in love he is with Brice. Even though Brice treats him like shit. Even though he has known Brice for like two-weeks, max. Even though he knows almost nothing about Brice other than his parents are kind to him and that Brice has a nice paying job. This books spend more time telling us that Brice is hot than it does actually giving us any redeeming qualities to his character. As far as I can tell the fact that Brice gives Linden a boner is more important than how Brice treats him. Which…fuck that.
This book keeps trying to make us feel like this is a good thing that Linden is falling for Brice. And, to be honest, it kinda creeped me out. I’ve certainly read stories with worse relationships, but most of them seem to know how fucked up they are. Here it felt like we were supposed to accept how wonderful Brice and Linden are as a couple. That we were supposed to cheer them on.
I mostly wanted to get Linden as far away from the bastard as possible.
I can’t in good faith recommend this book. The writing isn’t terrible, which almost makes things worse since I feel if the story hadn’t tried to set up Linden with such an ass, I could have easily liked this story, but I can’t buy these two together.