Title: There You Stand (Between Breaths #5)
Author: Christina Lee
Genre: Contemporary Romance, M/M
Length: 250 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Tattoo artist Cory Easton has worked long enough at Raw Ink to know, just by looking at a dude, what his body art reveals, what makes him tick, what even makes him scared. Until he meets the quiet and remote Jude York—so unreadable, so unreachable, and so unlike anyone else, he can’t help but arouse Cory’s curiosity.
As captivating and complex as his ink, Jude is a mystery—and Cory’s falling fast and hard under his spell. Against his better judgment to steer clear.
The rumors of Jude’s past overshadow him—whispers of prison and an unmentionable secret that’s kept him in the protective shadows of a local motorcycle club. As Cory probes deeper, he wonders how much he really wants to know. Especially since Jude has awakened something inside him that has been buried too long—and has him feeling completely alive for the first time in forever…
This is an emotional filled ride about trust, patience, overcoming loss, and finding love.
Having read all of the other books in this series, this initially seemed like a big jump for the author, venturing in the M/M genre. But this story follows the themes of the previous stories, with characters fighting their demons and relying on someone to help them thru the pain. In this case, both Cory and Jude have experienced tragic loss. Sadly, this similarity was only one of many reasons why their connection worked.
While the emotional weight of this book stood apart from other M/M books I have read, there was the common theme of getting someone who was unsure of their sexual preferences, to open up and commit to the idea of being with another man. Cory is a confident in his status as a gay male. I absolutely loved that his Grandmother, his only living relative, approved of his orientation, but at times, seemed to encourage him to find a new guy. God bless her! Jude on the other hand was hard to get a handle on at first. Was he straight, gay, or bi? Turns out it was the latter, but that didn’t mean their weren’t issues with the two coming together physically. The biggest issue being Jude’s ability to trust. This fear was centered on his willingness to kiss, an act he felt more intimate than sex. Given his past history, being used by someone he thought he could trust, I could understand the hesitation.
The relationship between the two was a slow build. There is a big story behind Jude’s closed off nature, which contributed to that slow development. This story had a lot of elements that appealed to me, particularly the inclusion of a suspense element. Without giving away spoilers, as Cory begins to learn about Jude’s past and the threats he faces in the present. It explained a lot about his initial lack of speaking and his hesitancy to commit to Cory publicly. I loved that the reasons for based on security and not a lack of confidence in his orientation.
While they tried to keep things on the down low in order to protect Jude’s safety, I liked how everyone around them caught on to their act and obvious attraction. I was surprised by some of the people that supported/encouraged the relationship, showing that some people are more open minded than I would have thought, and that is definitely a good thing.
Whether you are already invested in this series, or just a fan of the M/M genre, this book will appeal to you (it can be considered a standalone). The story is fresh and kept my interest throughout. And hey, can’t forget about the rimming!
*An ARC was received via NetGalley for an honest review.
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