Title ~ Against the Wall (First & Forever Series #7)
Author ~ Alexa Land
Genre ~ M/M Romance, Contemporary
Published ~ 11th January 2015
Don’t start something you can’t finish.
It’s a cliché, but 22-year-old graffiti artist Christian lives by those words. He’s going away when he graduates from art school in just six short months. With so little time left, getting involved with gorgeous Shea Nolan has to be a mistake. If only he could make himself stay away from the sweet, sexy police officer.
Christian has a decision to make. Are a few months of happiness worth the inevitable heartbreak when it’s time to walk away?
Against the Wall is the seventh book in Alexa Land’s best-selling Firsts and Forever series, but each book can stand alone, so jump in anywhere. PLEASE NOTE: This male/male romance is for ADULT READERS ONLY. It includes explicit language and graphic sex.
I don't know how she does it, but she does it over and over again, each time a little bit better!
If Ms. Land hadn't already become one of my all-time favorite authors, this book would have cemented the deal.
The latest in her "The First And Forever Series", she pulls together another insane (and totally lovable) crew of eccentrics ranging from the hot graffiti artist, Christian, to the 80-year-old Mrs Dambruso. Ms. Land is particularly noted for finishing each book with a happy ending for its main characters, but one or two of the secondary characters left dangling just enough to become the focus of the next one. At the end of the previous book (Skye Blue), Christian (whom we knew little about), had intriguingly announced that he'd be leaving in six months, upon graduation from art school. But somehow, it sounded so final, like some huge obligation (or a band of terrorists) was going to spirit him away, never to be heard from again. It left me intrigued and anxiously awaiting the next installment.
Well this is it, Christian's book.
I won't disclose the main mystery (it would be a major spoiler), but I can reveal that it's absolutely devastating. Along the way to the resolution of that one, other mysteries are revealed, including who Christian's parents are, and why he seems to have an endless supply of funding without ever working.
As usual, there's a whole crew of new, intriguing characters, starting with Shea, whom Christian falls for like a ton of bricks - no matter how hard he tries not to. Shea is a huge, muscled God, a cop, who also happens to be a shy, virgin nerd and budding cartoonist (all of the characters in this series have some connection to art, music, dance or fine-dining). His three friends are also quintessential gay nerds (though not as gorgeous), leading to some interesting evenings together playing board games while wearing crazy theme hats. Then there's Chance, the street hustler whom Christian meets as he flees from the police trying to arrest him while painting his newest mural - on the back of a warehouse building. Chance, as it turns out, is also a brilliant photographer, and I have no doubt that he will show up at the center of Ms. Land's next novel. I can't wait for that one, either.
There is illness, there is agoraphobia, there are parents who tossed away their gay kids, there is "pushing away someone you love", which, on paper, sound like the standard (and trite) gay romance themes. But in Ms. Land's talented hands, there's nothing trite or unoriginal about any of it. At several points, she had me in tears, at others, spewing loud guffaws, and there is one scene, starring Mrs. Dambruso, that, literally had me grabbing my sides, laughing out loud, uncontrollably. It has to do with a wedding cake with too many layers, and the unfortunate addition of a pink-frosted, domed, princess cake at the top, which gave the cake the inevitable profile of - well, you can just imagine, a long, pink cylinder with a dome on top. You just can't read that scene without falling on the floor.
This combination of humor and pathos is unique to Ms. Land. She almost always has scenes like this in each book, scenes that lighten the angst and set you up for the next salvo. For example, "Against The Wall" features what may be the best-ever "meet-cute". Christian meets Shea, the big guy, when their eyes link across a dance club. The shy Shea, pushed by his friends to go over and talk to Christian, finally sets out across the dance floor, at which time he stumbles, falls flat on his face and causes a domino affect of falling, half-naked, dancing bodies across the packed club. Another time, when they meet unexpectedly, Shea falls backwards, which wouldn't be such a great problem, except for the fact that they're on a cruise ship, and the end result is "man overboard"! Slapstick? You bet. Funny slapstick? The funniest. I'll leave it to you to discover what happens when Shea finally meets Christian's famous father. It's perfect.
What propels Ms. Land's novels, without exception, is love. Between that, humor, and great writing, all else falls by the wayside. She is an extraordinary writer and this is an extraordinary book.
Against The Wall is a charming, beautifully-moving, uproariously-funny few hours with great characters in wildly inventive situations, treated with tenderness, affection and humor. What more could one ask for?
I recommend this one with all my heart.