With a birthday near Christmas, Ryan Foster’s learned to compromise. He loves a straight friend who won’t reciprocate his feelings, and holds a boring job to afford college. At the end of the week, he vents his frustrations through his webcast, "Alone Time with Ryan.” He’s careful not to name names — particularly since each webisode ends with a mock masturbation session.
Greg Beaumont seeks a fresh start in a new home, but wasn’t counting on the holidays being lonely. When gorgeous, young Ryan shows up on Greg’s doorstep, it’s a warm ray of light on a cold winter’s day. Greg’s attracted, and tempted, but as youth director at the local recreation center, he must conduct his private life carefully. Seducing a college student seven years his junior isn’t the wisest choice, no matter how hot Greg’s fantasies are growing by the day — or night.
When Ryan’s ode to December birthdays goes viral, his show becomes an overnight sensation, but with exposure comes consequence, and Ryan’s Sagittarian wits won’t get him out of this one. When he turns to Greg in a moment of need, both men must face the consequence of their passion, making for one steamy winter.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Sagittarius Blues is an ok romance that attempts to show a young man finding himself and moving beyond his first crush. The characters are decent but they never truly feel real. I had a lot of problems with the main couple in that they never felt like they should be together. The age difference comes across as quite a bit and the two men never feel equal. The story seems to lecture at places and tries to show growth through consequences but just didn’t really appeal to me unfortunately. The writing is very good in several places and shows why Strauss is such a popular author. I like her writing quite a bit though the stories are sometimes hit or miss for me. This one isn’t either but falls solidly in the middle.
The story starts with our hero, Ryan, struggling with pushing shopping carts through the slush on a chilly December day. Set against the backdrop of the holiday season, Ryan is trying to stay upbeat even though the gifting season is a stretch financially for him and his mom. Compounding the problem is Ryan’s lingering crush on his best friend, Chad. Chad is a friend only but Ryan wants more and can’t quite let go of his feelings. Ryan lets all his frustration and angst about his life out in webcam shows from his mom’s basement. A chance meeting with teen counselor Greg shows Ryan that he may be able to have a new life, but change isn’t easy.
On the one hand this story is a nice romance between older Greg and younger Ryan as they fit together in stops and starts. It shows Ryan growing from his first crush on Chad to being able to appreciate his friendship with Chad and Chad’s relationship with Brooke. Ryan definitely matures over the course of the story and it’s a hard won maturity with problems I think a lot of people can relate to; especially those that have had the so called anonymity of the internet come back to bite them. Ryan is perhaps the best character of the group as he displays genuine emotion and real strength in dealing with his problems. He’s not perfect and that makes him all that much more appealing.
The biggest problem I had is with Greg. He’s a good character as a lonely guy in his late 20’s, a counselor that’s looking to find someone to settle down with. He falls for Ryan’s looks and charm first then worries about Ryan’s immaturity and what that might mean. Unfortunately the dynamic between the two feels off, especially with Greg’s job. Greg comes across as a mentor to Ryan, often gently (and not so gently) lecturing Ryan. This heightens their age difference and I keep seeing Greg as a father figure, which keeps the two from being equal in their relationship. Greg’s comments about Ryan’s reactions, his immaturity and really Greg’s own quickly defensive actions makes him a very off putting and unsympathetic character for me. Greg often feels judgmental and though Ryan is the one asking for forgiveness I feel it should be the other way around.
Ultimately the two just didn’t work as a couple for me, which kills the main plot of the story then. On the plus side Ryan’s friends Chad and Brooke are wonderful and I thought Chad’s reactions to Ryan’s feelings are very thoughtful and respectful. Chad acknowledges their initial fooling around and doesn’t diminish Ryan’s feelings or mock them, instead simply makes it clear that Chad can’t offer a romantic relationship but cares a lot for Ryan. I really quite liked the handling of this and highlights Strauss’ great touch with complex, interesting characters that can have tension without destroying their connection.
I think fans will enjoy this a lot if they can connect and care about the main couple. The supporting cast and problems brought up are all well handled with sensitivity and genuine emotion. The holiday feel is a perfect setting for this time of year and the internet complications are ones that many readers will sympathize with. If you’re a fan of the author, take a chance and see if you like this. It could just be me.