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Christian Grayson is a professor of sociology who comes from a close-knit Southern family steeped in values and tradition. He left Tennessee using education as his excuse for escape, when he truthfully only wanted the freedom to be who he truly was. But at age forty, he’s still in the closet and still adheres to the morals his father, a Southern Baptist minister, raised him with. This includes saving himself for Mr. Right.
CJ Hata has been under Christian’s wing since his freshman year. A genius, pure and simple, he’s a senior now and no longer needs to report to Professor G, but he still seeks his teacher out occasionally for a friendly chat.
When Christian accidentally outs himself to CJ while pouring his heart out about his dying father, CJ feels totally out of his element. He convinces himself to put forth his best effort because the man he’s been crushing on for four years needs a friend. In the meantime, everyone around CJ is stumbling out of the closet, but the one person he really wants to come out has barricaded himself in with the bible and his family’s expectations.
This is a very gritty story about judging and values and how our families shape us and what society expects from us and how we have to overcome all that to be who we are.
CJ is not a very lovable character. He’s acerbic and condescending and sometimes pretty immature. He has moments of immense sweetness and that’s what attracts Christian.
Christian is a confused, closeted man forced into a role that he sort of believes in but also one he finds too constraining. He falls for a student and then falls out of the closet to be with him. In the meantime his super religious father dies and he has to face what that means for him and how he lives his life free from that judgment.
On the one hand this story really speaks to a lot of issues and handles them in a way that is more realistic than a lot of romances tend to be. On the other hand it was so gritty that I didn’t feel as connected to the characters in a way that I felt either bonded to them or invested in their outcome. I never really liked CJ and though I felt bad for Christian I didn’t really connect with him either. I definitely didn’t see them as a couple that would stand the test of time. Not because they couldn’t or wouldn’t, but because the story didn’t spend enough time showing me their compatibility. Instead it was more internal dialogs and moving through Christian’s own lifestyle choices and decisions and CJs growth of his socializing skills.
I really wanted to love this – there was so much promise in the topics and in the potential for very angst-ridden yet hot, 40-year-old-virgin-sex… but I just didn’t feel a strong enough connection with either MC to feel very attached to their love story.
Overall I give it 3 of 5 hearts for having a lot of promise.
As a side – the cover really didn’t match the story in that CJ is not a happy, smiling, shy, young guy but an old cynic of a guy in a young guy’s body and instead the professor is the shy, retiring guy.