Title ~ Unfortunate Son (Sons #1)
Author ~ Shae Connor
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 12th January 2015
Genre ~ M/M Contemporary Romance
Five years ago, Evan Day lost his lover in the Afghan sand, and in the fallout, he lost his military career and his family. With help from friends, he reinvented himself as porn star Trevor Hardball, but his scars are hidden, not healed. When Riley Yeats falls into Evan’s lap in a bar, he awakens a part of Evan he’d thought was dead and gone. Evan’s fascinated by the blond and twinky Riley, even though he’s the opposite of Evan’s usual type.
Then Evan’s family reappears in his life, and Evan soon learns Riley has his own family-inflicted wounds—ones that make it hard for him to be there for Evan. A disastrous confrontation between Evan and his parents leaves Evan’s mother injured and Evan overcome by anger and fear. Losing his tenuous hold on his emotional control, Evan makes one bad decision after another, but maybe his final fall will be the wake-up call Evan needs to set things right—with his parents, and with Riley.
It's going to be a bit of an odd one, this review because there were things about Unfortunate Son that I was conflicted about but despite them, I still ended up loving the book.
I'll start with what didn't fully work for me though, and that was the actual romance between Evan Day aka Trevor Hardball (his porn persona) and trust fund wealthy Riley Yeats. Which is a biggie really because at the end of the day, this is a M/M romance, and the chemistry and connection of its MC's is something that generally makes or breaks a book for me. The thing is, Riley is actually the type of character I like; twinky, slightly flamboyant in nature but not overtly flaming, with a vibrant personality. I loved their first meeting in a bar and subsequent first date (a picnic in the park) and was looking forward to seeing them evolve into a couple.
As complete opposites, I was liking where it was going and had great hopes for their love match but then out of the blue (and in my eyes) for no particular reason, Riley started running hot and cold with Evan...and that became my beef with his character. For a while I tried to hold judgement about his behaviour because I was convinced that to act the way he did, there must have been one almighty trauma in his past, that we weren't being given insight to yet, to explain why, but when the explanation did finally come it just felt like Riley was having his own pity party that Evan was taking the backlash for unnecessarily, and I felt pretty indignant for Evan because if anybody had cause to push the other one away, it was him, as he was carrying more emotional baggage than anyone has a right to! But no...Evan hangs in there, bemused but hopeful, whilst coping with all the shit life has thrown at him and is still lobbing his way.
So because of Riley's odd behaviour their relationship felt off balance for the majority of the story and the romantic connection didn’t quite gel . They have sex, and it's hot, but there was an ambiguousness to their relationship, as Evan is never quite sure of their exclusivity, and frankly neither was I, so again, looking at it personally, that affected the chemistry. However, it's the situation with Riley that pushes the story forward and I suppose if their relationship had been more lovey, dovey, I might not have been quite so invested or involved with how the rest of the story played out, and I absolutely loved everything else that happened in the book. The title reflects both their positions with their families as each of them have issues with their parents but it's Evans story and Evan himself who made the book the success it was for me. I loved him. He was the reason I picked it up to begin with because I'm a sucker for porn star based stories and I wasn't disappointed with that side of the book at all,… I thought that really worked.
As I said earlier, this guy has a lot of emotional conflict in his life. An ex Marine, there are a couple of tragic events and personal traumas in his past that have lead him to a life in porn and it all pulled me towards him even more. The book opens on an extremely hot, pretty explicit scene between "Trevor" and two of his co stars, and that was it I was hooked, plus I got an insight into Trevor the porn star; a guy who likes to fuck because he truly enjoys sex. He doesn't go out of his way to hide his career particularly and he's liked in the industry. He has fans, gets recognized by them and is friendly enough when that happens but generally he keeps his head down and stays away from the 'model' lifestyle.
There are two people he's stayed close to in his life, his older best friend and budding drag queen Cory and his partner ex porn star Jimmy. The only ones who've stood by and supported him throughout all his troubles. But outside of his Trevor persona, Evan is constantly battling nightmares. Mainly about the tragic loss back in Afghanistan of Lucas, another Marine and first ever male lover but also his unfair dishonourable discharge from the Corp, the death of his 'Golden Boy' older brother who was also in the forces and died in an Iraqi bombing and finally the rejection of his parents because of his sexuality. All brought to the surface again when his mother reappears in his life after seven years of estrangement.
Not at all his usual type, Riley is a breath of fresh air for Evan and despite their up and down relationship he's still drawn to him. And I could see why because underneath the contrariness is someone who if he wasn't dealing with his own turmoil could help take away those bad memories.
The blurb says that Evan makes bad decisions but I just saw a man whose circumstance continuously pushed him towards them. It's not a perfect story, sometimes the drama seems a bit overblown and there may be actions taken that will exasperate, but it kept me engrossed throughout and now I'm dying to get my hands on book two, which will be Cory and Jimmy’s story and their involvement with a young friend of Riley’s who we meet in this novel. I really took to those guys and knowing it's going to be a ménage seals the deal. The sex is unapologetic and hot and I loved the sex scenes involving 'Trevor' in porn mode. The ending was satisfying enough and I even warmed to Riley more towards the finish but it was the overall story that I loved the most. I’ve never read Shae Connor before but I do like her style; the writing flowed and I never got distracted, so I’ll be checking out more of her books.
I did a fair bit of pondering on how to rate this because, yes, there where things that didn't quite work for me and if I was using my sensible head the rating should probably be lower to reflect those niggles; but whatever those are, I just can't deny that I was still totally captivated enough to not want to put this down once I got into it and I was sad when it finished. So sod it, I'm rating with my rose coloured specs on and my heart...and that cover…nuff said!
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Meet Shae Connor
Shae Connor lives in Atlanta, where she works for the government by day and reads and writes about people falling in love by night. She's been making up stories for as long as she can remember, but it took her a long time to figure out that maybe she should start writing them down. Now, she usually has far too many stories in progress, but when she does manage to tear herself away from her laptop, she enjoys running, hiking, cooking, and traveling, not necessarily in that order.