Wanting by ML Rhodes
It started with one kiss. Which led to another. And another. And then to a mind-blowing night of intimacy Jeremy Reynolds can’t forget. He can’t stop thinking about the gorgeous, smart, compassionate man who tilted his world. Can’t stop seeing warm, sexy eyes gazing at him with breath-stealing intensity.
Jeremy tries to tell himself to let the incident go, move on, and chalk it up to a life experience. After all, what transpired between him and his best friend and roommate, Ben Cross, can never happen again. Ben is gay, and Jeremy…isn’t. At least he’s never thought he was before. But now he’s torn and confused and not sure what the night with Ben meant—for either of them. Already stressed about final exams before the holidays and his difficult family situation, Jeremy doesn’t know how to deal with the conflicting feelings he’s having. And the one person he’s always been able to talk to about everything, and who’s always been there for him, is the very person he’s been avoiding for the past week because he doesn’t know how to face him after waking up in his bed.
Afraid he might have already screwed up his and Ben’s friendship beyond repair, Jeremy is haunted even more by the backlash he could face if he admits to Ben, or even to himself, how much the night they spent together really meant to him.
And how much he still wants Ben even now…
[The cover is basic but I like it. It shows an important plot point (the phone) and gives the college air. Likely just a stock photo as it is, but eh I don’t mind.]
The novella starts heatedly as college student Jeremy keeps reliving his recent one night stand with his best friend Ben. Except Jeremy is too stressed with family, finals, and an ex-girlfriend to deal with a sexual identity crisis on top of it all. Over the course of a few days, Jeremy attempts to run away from all his problems and realizes that it only causes him more stress. When he finally decides to stop running and face the difficult questions of what he wants, Jeremy realizes the answers are actually really easy.
Since this story is really quick, 23k words, the only characterization of any merit is Jeremy. The book is told mostly from his perspective and shows a touching portrait of a young man struggling with life in the aftermath of his beloved mother’s death. Between school, financial problems, an overpowering father, difficult professors, and a girlfriend Jeremy should have broken up with months ago, he’s stretched thin as it is. When a seemingly drunken encounter occurs between him and his best friend, Ben, Jeremy is overwhelmed with emotion and possible implications. As he runs, emotionally and literally, from the various situations, Jeremy’s problems are understandable and sympathetic. His struggle to acceptance is truncated due to the shorter length of the novella and only a glimpse into what could have been a prolonged and angst filled journey. Instead Jeremy’s path is only slightly emotional and once he accepts the futility of running, his choices and options are clear and rather easy for him.
The other characters are less well defined from the best friend Ben who sounds attractive and intelligent but otherwise is pretty much a ubiquitous gay man in love with his seemingly straight best friend. There is very little offered about Ben accept that he and Jeremy are close friends with a lot in common. Great for their relationship but the reader sees almost none of this. Furthermore there is the (ex) girlfriend who is somewhat weak, sliding in and out scenes as yet another stressor on Jeremy and Jeremy’s homophobic, racist father stereotype. There is a climatic scene at the end where Jeremy stands up to his father’s domineering ways but I didn’t find the scene very intense or offering much impact. It was predictable and nice, showing Jeremy’s commitment to Ben but the scene was too scripted – down to the homophobic slurs and acceptance of their roommate.
However for a short story this is incredibly fast to read with some fun characters. The sex is hot and the men are definite eye candy. The slight bit of angst is always a favorite and as a quick read, I was satisfied with the book. Not a keeper or one I’d read again, but worth the few dollars and half an hour of steamy entertainment. If you’re looking for something quick and sure to please, think about Wanting.
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2 thoughts on “Wanting by ML Rhodes”
Good review, Kassa. This seems to be a classic theme for stories about high-school and college students — coming to terms with their sexual identity. It seems like the identity thing would crystallize early on in life, but apparently not. Plus, I guess according to the old Kinsey reports, we’re all more bisexual than we might think we are! I might look into this story.
Well this fits into the classic theme that most are thrown into a tailspin upon discovering some homosexual tendencies. There is certainly enough stories about men and women not discovering such sides or exploring those desires until later in life and then struggling with the emotional toll. So this fits into that very well – just in college versus older age.
It’s sweet, cute, and easy to read fluff. I like Rhodes but I do wish she’d go back to some more in depth books like she’s put out.