Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Review: The Distance (Firsts & Forever #11) by Alexa Land

The Distance Cover FINAL_thumbTitle ~ The Distance

Author ~ Alexa Land

Published ~ 7th April 2016

Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance





What if everything you think you know about someone is completely wrong?
Twenty-four-year-old Jessie thinks he has fellow street racer Kai all figured out. The tall, dark-haired Hawaiian might be gorgeous, but he’s also arrogant, angry, and a total menace when he gets behind the wheel. So why does an argument with Kai lead to the hottest sex of Jessie’s life?
As sex starts to give way to so much more, Jessie wants to trust Kai. But after a betrayal in his past cut Jessie to the core, that doesn’t come easily. Even if Kai proves to be far more than the gruff exterior he shows the world, Jessie’s sure he’ll screw up any chance at a relationship and get hurt all over again. He just needs to keep his distance, which would be a lot easier if the attraction between them wasn’t off the charts.
The Distance is the eleventh book in Alexa Land’s best-selling Firsts & Forever Series, but each book is written to stand alone, so jump in anywhere.
This gay contemporary romance is approximately 100,000 words. Please note: contains graphic sex and is only intended for adult readers.


Alan’s Review

I had prepared myself for the likelihood that “The Distance” would begin the inevitable drop in quality and authenticity typical of the later books in a long series. After all, it takes a heck of a writer to maintain the novelty and depth of each and every character as the character count starts to really rack up. Well, the remarkably talented Alexa Land is a heck of a writer, and apparently, there is no limit to her imagination. With each book, a secondary character from an earlier book becomes the main focus of the current one. And without missing a beat, the back story blossoms into a full-blown life, with all its history, present, wishes, dreams, failures and fears intact. Tying all that together is the indomitable spirit of “Nana” Dombruso, the mater familias of a former Mafia family, the doyenne of gay San Francisco, the 80-something free soul whose energy has no limits, whose heart has no borders. “Nana” is the glue that holds it all together, the living incarnation of unconditional love, and the comic relief whose exploits ease the pain, heartache and disappointment that tend to plague the oppressed, marginalized and lonely.

In “The Distance”, Ms. Land downplays “Nana” just a bit compared to most of the other stories in the series. That leaves more light to shine on Jessie, her now very part-time chauffeur, cooking-show producer and companion-at-arms in all kinds of adventures over the last few years, few of them legal, most of them obscene, and all of them hilarious.

Ms. Land uses “The Distance” to showcase how special this unassuming young man is - through the compassion and caring he brings to his friendships and the depth of the love and support he offers to those he cares about. He worries about everyone but himself, he protects everyone he knows, and he offers a shoulder to cry on to all in need. But perhaps, just perhaps, it’s time for Jesse’s countless kindnesses to come home to roost, for Jessie to find his own home, family and love. Nana and her family (including the one she’s assembled by collecting special people everywhere she goes) come close. But she is about to marry, and Jesse will no longer be needed the way he had been. Sure, he’ll always be considered family, but it’s time to move out to his own place, and to make sure he doesn’t become a fifth-wheel in Nana’s new life. The change will be difficult. Jessie has been careful not to get involved with, or dependent upon, anybody since he lost his family the day he came out to his religious parents. Though Jessie has many friends, they are mostly friends with husbands, lovers, or extended families. There’s just no one to whom he matters “that way”, to whom he is the center of the other person’s life, and vice-versa. He’s always on the periphery, on the edges, rarely alone, but often lonely.

Well that’s about to end the day he returns to his passion – street racing. Since he was first introduced in the “Firsts and Forever” series, Jessie has been the embodiment of the unexpected. Though he’s often more than just a touch effeminate (especially dressed up for clubbing), he’s remarkably butch on a crawler underneath a car. And his cars tend to be a rather humble suburban compact on the outside, a killer custom hot-rod under the hood. Not like the hot Mustang of his nemesis, Trigger. At the end of Jessie’s last race, a tap from Trigger’s bumper sent his car rolling through the air, wiping it out, and almost wiping Jessie out along with it. Jessie survived, built a new car, and here he is facing the same raging moron at his very next race. He loses, the two start yelling at each other, and somehow, end up in a passionate and totally unexpected kiss.

Both young men need to re-evaluate. They have made assumptions based on appearances, and should know better. Trigger was convinced that Jessie was a spoiled rich kid. Jessie was convinced that Trigger was a testosterone-driven halfwit with muscles where he should have brains. Both are wrong. Even their names aren’t right. Jessie took on his name after he was disowned. He needed to create a new life completely divorced from the one now denied him. “Trigger” is a racing “handle” for the beautiful, sensitive young man, Malakai, who was raised in Hawaii - a young man with muscles, brains and heart to spare.

Kai is also a father who, as a very young man, took responsibility for and custody of his daughter, Izzy. Just an hour in the company of Kai and his bright, beautiful daughter forces Jessie to reconsider his assumptions. Kai is not who he thought he was. Jessie was wrong. And Kai is someone he needs to know better.

It’s an absolute joy to watch these two beautiful men grow closer, open up their hearts to each other, to Izzy and to Kai’s loving and accepting family. Alexa Land is one among that select pantheon of authors who keep me reading gay fiction. She dazzles and moves with her assured mix of humor, color and compassion. Her characters are always believable, their situations always authentic, even when they occasionally seem to be just a bit over-the-top. Her mastery of the written word astonishes me anew each time I pick up another one of her books. Her eloquence and the elegance of her prose ensure that each new book will be not just a good read, but more important, a deeply-felt experience. “The Distance” is no exception. I strongly recommend that you take the time to walk a while in Jessie’s shoes, and while there, let him work his way into your heart as he did into mine.


Purchase Links


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Meet Alexa Land

I write and independently publish M/M romances. I was born in Southern California, and have been on a gradual northern migration ever since, having lived in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and now Oregon.

My best-selling Firsts and Forever series includes: Way Off Plan, All In, In Pieces, Gathering Storm, Salvation, Skye Blue, and Against the Wall.

I've also published Feral, a paranormal M/M romance, and The Tinder Chronicles, a paranormal trilogy.



1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much, Alan, for taking the time to review The Distance! I'm so happy to hear you enjoyed it!