05 April 2015

Lucky Seven by E.L. Esch

 Dante Mathers, college student, fifth year, has a track record for being dishonest with himself, and is about to undergo the biggest, scariest change of his life.

Dante's forced himself to go out with girls in the past and he does it again when he's approached by the beautiful Serena one day on campus, desperate to prove to himself that he's "normal." But when he loses a drinking contest and is dared to go to the next campus GLBT meeting by his best friend, he’s not sure how to handle it. Sure he could blow it off and say he went, but something nagging at the back of his mind compels him to go anyway. After all, he’s had problems with intimacy in the past and his first crush was a boy in high school. But is he really forcing himself to go, or is he finally starting to be honest with himself? No need to over think this, Dante tells himself. It'll be get in, get out. No need to talk to anyone. Easy, right?

But then he meets Sven. Sexy, toned, wearing a leather jacket with spiked up bleach-blond hair, Sven's bad-boy flare sticks out on campus and catches Dante's eye. But there's more to Sven than his punkish looks, and Dante's about to find out all the sultry little details.
Lucky Seven is a really sweet coming of age story. I adored both Dante and Sven’s characters and loved watching them both come into their own. Based upon the prologue and the comments of Dante’s roommate, it seems that Dante has spent most of his adolescence and young adulthood in an asexual manner. Well I’m not sure that asexual is the correct term as it’s not so much that Dante has no sexual feelings, but rather he refuses to consider them in fear of what he may learn about himself. Dante seems to have adopted the attitude of “You can’t miss what you’ve never had.” Yet suddenly he finds himself thrust into a situation where he has to consider who he is on a sexual level when he meets Serena and Sven and finds himself drawn to both a woman and a man.

Being that Lucky Seven is an M/M romance, it was inevitable that Dante would come to accept that he was attracted to Sven. But as I often say, it is the journey to the final chapter that truly makes the story and Dante’s story is a perfect example of this. At first he doesn’t understand why he’s drawn to Serena because, as reluctantly admits to himself, he’s never been attracted to a woman. With each “date,” he comes to realize that he just enjoys spending time with her and his feelings are completely platonic. Once he comes to understand that he is not attracted to Serena sexually he feels awful because he feels as though he has led her on – which just goes to show how nice of a guy Dante is. That he is plagued by guilt and worries that he will lose her friendship further demonstrates Dante’s character. Fortunately for Dante, circumstances unfold in such a way that Dante is able to let Serena know how he feels without ruining their relationship – and thus begins Dante’s true journey of self-acceptance.

One of the things that impressed me most about this book is that the author did not feel the need to rush the main characters into sex and remained true to the Coming of Age genre. The combination of Dante’s innocence and Sven’s shyness meant that the characters became friends first. There was far more of an emphasis placed on the emotional aspects of their relationship than the physical ones; in fact, Sven pretty much told Dante more than once that there was no rush and that if he [Dante] never felt comfortable going all the way, then so be it. As such, their sexual interactions occurred in a natural progression from learning to kiss, to making out and heavy petting, to oral, and to… well, you’ll have to read the book to find out if they actually go all the way. I will say that if you enjoy M/M coming of age romances, you won’t be disappointed because the author does a wonderful job of balancing the excitement of discovering one’s sexual being and the sweetness of falling in love. I adored Lucky Seven and cannot wait to read more of Ms. Esch’s work.


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