01 December 2014

The Roommate Situation by Zoe X. Rider

 College freshman Shane Hahn finds himself unexpectedly shuffled to a new dorm room--which is fine by him, but his over-involved mother takes one look at toothpick-chewing, motorcycle-riding Derek McClain, his new roommate, and gets on the phone with the school. The school requires that Shane be the one to file the room-change paperwork, but Shane's reluctant.

He's attracted to Derek's independence, even though that independence means Derek has to pay his own way through college, which he does by making leather products (you know: belts, wallets...bondage gear) and selling it online. Shane isn't even allowed to work while he's in school, much less join a band, which is what he really wants to do with his life. Unfortunately, his parents are holding his guitar hostage until he can prove he's taking his future seriously.

When he decides he needs a way to come up with cash--the kind his parents won't find out about--so he can buy a guitar his parents can't take away from him, he turns to Derek with what sounds like a win-win solution: he'll model bondage gear for Derek's online store photos, Derek will get more sales, and Shane will get a cut. The one thing he doesn't factor into his plan is the giddy stomach-flip feeling Derek McClain causes whenever he walks in the room--and what that might mean for them when Derek starts locking leather cuffs on his wrists.
This is one of those stories that I found endearing and witty with a dash of angst. It’s a good take on the ‘roommate at college’ scenario. Many times, these are gay for you or out for you stories, and this one is definitely that, but with a twist. I would say that both characters are probably bi – but have never made a definite claim on their sexuality. The story is told from Shane’s POV, and he seems to be the least sure of his sexuality of the two. So here’s a case where they both are out for each other.

Shane has been tossed in with an upper classman at college after an unsettling event occurs and he has to be moved to a new dorm room immediately. He ends up with Derek – a James Dean-esque character complete with leather jacket and motorcycle. Derek also happens to earn money on the side making leather bondage gear he sells on ebay. When Shane needs extra cash to purchase a guitar behind his parent’s overly-oppressive backs, he suggests that Derek would sell his gear better if he had a male model posing with it. And so things go from there.

I loved the connection between these two characters. I believed the way they got together. I felt Shane’s overpowering attraction to Derek and I was on board for Derek’s reaction to Shane. There was definitely hot chemistry there (no pun on Derek being a chemistry major!) I also really enjoyed Shane’s witticisms when it came to his inner dialogue. There were some real gems in there that made me laugh out loud.

This book was perhaps a shade too long for me and while I understood the need for the conflict of the parents, Shane sometimes came across too much like Dante in Clerks. (obscure Kevin Smith film reference) He was so pussed out and unable to stand up for himself it was tiring. I sometimes wondered how Derek could stand it. Must’ve been that hot twink thing Shane had going on – it motivated Derek to see past that!

If you love college romances, new adult gay for you/out for you, and a little bit of minor kink – then I would recommend this enjoyable read to you. I give it 4 lizard claws. 


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