Sunday, March 30, 2014

Review: Screwups by Jamie Fessenden

by Jamie Fessenden
Published March 7th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
Formats Available: mobi, epub, pdf, zip/html, Paperback

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

In 1996, Jake Stewart is starting his third year at the University of New Hampshire. Even as a successful business major, he is absolutely miserable. Not only is Jake pursuing a field he hates when he’d rather study art, he is utterly terrified of what will happen if his father finds out he’s gay. When he finally gets up the courage to move into the creative arts dorm on campus, his new roommate, Danny, is openly gay—and there’s no denying the attraction between them.
Danny Sullivan has been out since high school, and he appears comfortable with his sexuality. But something happened in Danny’s past—something that gives him nightmares he refuses to talk about. Unknown to Jake, the way he mistreated his friend, Tom Langois, when Tom came out to him in high school, is mild compared to the way someone very much like Jake treated Danny.
It may be too late to fix the mess Jake made with Tom, but if Jake wants to be with Danny, he’s going to have to fix the mess made by another closeted jock he’s never even met.

Jamie Fessenden's Screwups is a read that brought back so many memories. Of college life, of living in campus, playing D&D? Sigh. So many memories. All good ones.

Here, we have one openly gay man living in one of the more accepting houses on campus, Eaton. Danny is a music major, raised by a single mother whose views on life in general would have been considered strange and eccentric then but are totally normal these days. His past is a painful one, having gone through some experiences not many would have survived, his support for a non-artistic jock to live in their dorm changes his life and self-acceptance. 

One Jake Stewart, a young man in hiding, finds himself rooming with Danny. Coming from a very rigid upbringing where the father is always in charge and the two older twin brothers are basically bullies, he has learned to keep things quiet. He, too, has had a bad experience which changes his outlook on life. When he meets and lives with Danny, it changed him inside out and turned him upside down. 

This is a very lightly written story about college life and that time when all college students start changing in every possible way. Jake's relationship with Danny may have been unexpected, but it made Jake's eyes open to the many possibilities he never even considered for himself. Even his involvement into the world of Dungeons & Dragons role play game changed his life. He found that he could express his need to take risks which otherwise he would never have done, that he can freely act around people for the first time without feeling constrictions. He just felt different. At the back of his mind, he still feared the consequences, but there was one thing he was certain of: he loved Danny and Danny loved him back. No matter their past. No matter the consequences.

Calling Screwups a sweet, romance between two college young men may not be the right thing to do but it really is. It is also very romantic and erotic. Will these two have their HEA? I don't know. What I do know is that this was a read that made me smile and reminisce a lot and that sealed the deal for me. Yes, I definitely like Jake's and Danny's story, imperfections and all. Just don't kill me for calling this sweet. It's really not that sweet, but it is. 

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