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Lisa Henry

I'm a writer. I write m/m erotica. Kind of dark stuff, even though in real life I like rainbows and puppies and kittens. Not all at once though. That would be overwhelming.

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Review: It's Like This, by Orbiting Jupiter

I was totally not going to get suckered into reading anything today, and then this started showing up in my feed. Well, I thought, I'll just read a chapter and see how it goes.

Famous last words.

Loved it, and couldn't stop until I was finished. The sex was hot, and, unlike in a lot of free online stuff, there was a shitload of character development. I loved Niles, and his reasonable insecurities about the status of his relationship with Rylan. At the beginning I wasn't sure if I liked Rylan too much -- I has the same concerns as Niles did -- but Niles was a bit of an unreliable narrator in that respect. Hell, even his own family knew how much Rylan loved him. But there was just the right balance of angst here and it wasn't drawn out. When Niles finally got the courage up to ask what Rylan thought about their relationship, Rylan told him.

For that reason, I loved the condom scene. Okay, so both boys were stupid for not using condoms before they'd figured out if they were exclusive. Niles, finally realising this, turns up at Rylan's place with a condom. Rylan sees it and tells him to get the fuck out. Niles was gutted, but that's when it fell into place for me: Rylan's exclusive and always had been. Niles just doesn't know it.

Usually precocious kids annoy the hell out of me. Too much cuteness gets me right in the gag reflex. There was a prime contender for that in this story: Niles' nine year old sister Kya. But she was all kinds of awesome. Tough as nails, and smart as hell when she was diagnosed with cancer and lost an eye. She was also sweet and wonderful.

Which brings me to the rest of Niles' family: his parents and teenage sister Matilda. All families should be like this. Seriously. I loved that Niles never came out to them, but they've adopted Rylan as a second son. And I loved that Niles almost freaked out when his mother referred to Rylan as his boyfriend. Too much awesome, when so often m/m fiction is reliant on the homophobe parents to ramp up the angst.

We don't know that Rylan's dad is a total homophobic asshole. Maybe he's not, really, but Rylan doesn't want to come out to him. Their relationship is precarious enough without throwing that in the mix. And I liked that Niles got this. Yep, another chance for some cheap angst smartly bypassed. And Rylan's mother -- wow. How nice (you know, not nice, but refreshing?) to see no quick fixes there. And the flashbacks to those moments of teenage humiliation. You know the ones. Where you suddenly realise that your friend's family situation is really fucking awful, but you all ignore it because that's what kids do to protect their friends. That really struck a chord with me.

I loved the guys' friends as well. They were all doing their best to be cool and grownup about Niles and Rylan, but there were some sweet, awkward straight boy blushes.

The only thing that drops this for me was the ending, and it's totally my personal opinion. I didn't need the big declaration of love and commitment at the end. I could certainly appreciate why it's there, but I didn't feel it.

This book was great, and better than a lot of the published stuff out there. You should check it out.