Books Living Out Loud by Christina Lee and Nyrae Dawn
Living Out Loud by Christina Lee and Nyrae Dawn
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September 07, 2017
Ben Emerson has lived by his minister father’s rules most of his life. Born into an ultra-conservative church community, he’s finally brave enough to break free and move to San Francisco. Distancing himself certainly helps create a new mindset, but living as an openly gay man takes some getting used to. When he reaches out to Xavier, a childhood friend who lives in the city, Ben isn’t sure how he’ll respond given their thorny history. Ben hopes the familiar connection will help him right some wrongs as well as provide the solace he’s been craving.
Xavier Ramos is who he is, and he doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks. Whether it’s eyeliner, nail polish, tattoos or his love of hooking up, he uses his body as a form of self-expression but doesn’t let anyone get too close. When Ben reenters his life, Xavier helps him experience the city and feel comfortable in his own skin. Seeing the world through Ben’s eyes, he begins to wonder if he’s also not living as freely as he thought.
When Xavier challenges Ben’s beliefs about sex, it becomes explosive—for both of them. Xavier breaks apart Ben’s sheltered world and shows him what it’s like to live out loud. The more time they spend together, the more Xavier begins to long for Ben in a different way—one that both surprises and scares him. But real life doesn’t fade into the background, so when Ben’s past comes knocking, old habits are hard to break. Testing the foundation of their deepening connection will take a trust that will either bind them…or tear them apart.
When Worlds Collide
Living Out Loud takes two characters from two different series and combines them into their own within the world of the Free Fall series. Xavier is originally introduced in Nyrae Dawn’s A Hundred Thousand Words, and Ben appeared in the third Free Fall book by the pair of authors in Paint the Stars. Both were very much peripheral characters, but they come into their own right here.
I will state, however, that characters from the original four books are interacting in this book, and without back stories, so if you haven’t read the Free Fall series or Dawn’s AHTW, random characters appearing may lead to some confusion in who they are, but not enough to really take away from Ben and Xavier’s story.
Ben is the product of extreme oppression by his parents of his true nature. Away from them now and determined to live life as an out man, he reaches out to the one person from his childhood that was always there: his former best friend Xavier, living large and loving life in the same city in which Ben is beginning his life.
I’m hit and miss on this story, which is a first for me with this pair of authors, separately or together. The main plot and various subplots are well written. The attraction between the main characters is palpable from word one. The various settings are written dynamically, and the overall theme of the book is clear.
Written in first person alternating POV, this is where it starts to unravel for me. With alternating chapters inside the head of each main character, I expected to learn more about Xavier and watch his character grow throughout the book. Unfortunately, that didn’t particularly pan out. Xavier’s background is explained, but it’s more a glossing over. From Ben’s perspective, there was mammoth character growth and the kind of insight that I’ve come to expect from this pair.
Living Out Loud also takes a rather dramatic turn from the other books. This is much more an erotic novel with a contemporary sub-genre than a contemporary with an erotic sub-genre. With superhot sexy times in abundance, you will need a fan and some ice! However, the pair spending that much time in bed, while I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes, detracted some from the overall story. Ben’s life has been quite sheltered, so I understand the walking through of his blossoming, as it were. It kind of took over, though, to the detriment of the whole.
Ben’s background and what he endures in his adulthood from his parents absolutely set my teeth on edge. The descriptions are vivid, and evoked a massive emotional reaction on my part. Be prepared to cheer, sigh sweetly, sigh in exasperation, roll your eyes, cry, and be angry. You will do all of the above, a hallmark of both authors who grab your heart, lock in, and don’t let you go!
Through the book, I was rooting for this pair strongly, and I was pleased as punch by its ending. Overall, this is a really good book. Remember, my detractions may not bother you at all.
I am rating this at 3.5 stars, rounding up for sites that do not accept halves. I do recommend reading not only this book, but all of the books that led up to it. I am looking forward to seeing where this dynamic author pair goes next!
**Same worded review will appear on Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.**
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