Review: Us by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy (Him #2)
Note: This ARC was provided by Nina Bocci PR in exchange for an honest review.
"I love you, Canning."
"Love you too, Wesley."
But in the back of my mind, I'm wondering where I belong. Or rather, where I'll end up. Wes is my home. He's my heart. But he can't be my everything.
I'm not entirely sure if Him was ever meant to have a sequel, but I am not one to complain when the follow-up to a book I fell so hopelessly in love with is just as good as its predecessor. I'm also admittedly clueless as to how Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy got together and decided to write, not just one, but now two books, but the writing and storytelling has been seamless, making it impossible on my end to tell how the writing duties were split up and who wrote what. After having read both Him and Us in one sitting, I'm now left wondering if fans of the series will see another addition in the offing. I'm a wishful thinking, pessimistic realist, but I'm holding on to that bit of hope that we do still get more of Jamie Canning and Ryan Wesley sometime sooner or later. After all, the first book could have ended the way it did, but we got a second book, and maybe, hopefully that happens once again this time around. Plus, there are still several pronouns the authors can choose from should they heed what I expect will be a clamor for a third book in what is so far a duet. If you're planning on reading this book, I suggest that you read Him first--both because it establishes the evolution of Jamie and Wes's friendship and because it's simply a fabulous read.
Jamie and Wes have graduated from college and are still very much basking in the sport they love most--hockey--only in very different roles. Jamie is an assistant couch for a juniors team in Toronto while Wes is a rookie player in the National Hockey League. They live together, are more in love than ever, and are devoted to each other, but the only people who are aware of the fact that they're partners are their respective families. Wes wants to keep his sexuality a secret until his first year as a player is over, needing to prove just how essential he is to his team before the idea of his being a gay man clouds their perception of him. Wes was already in the closet once and having to go back in for the sake of his career is a burden that he's forced to carry again, only this time, it's a burden that weighs heavily on Jaime and on their relationship. Jaime's own recent realization and acknowledgment of his bisexuality is something that he's embraced, but it affects Wes in a way that he's never had to contend with before. Their relationship is still very much in its infancy, because even with all their years of friendship, the years they spent apart prove that they need to work on open and honest communication, no matter how in love these two happen to be.
I chose to see the ending in Him as a happy-for-now because let's face it: Jamie and Wes are in their early twenties and are embarking on a new phase in their lives together. Realistically speaking, you know they're going to face challenges and conflicts, especially with their agreed upon plan of Wes keeping their relationship secret. There were moments that I became frustrated with both men because of their terrible tendency of putting off important conversations and discussions. Of course, it was clear that the frustration wasn't limited to me because both Jamie and Wes were frustrated with what was happening to them. Issues at work affect their relationship and issues within their relationship affect their work, and you could see that instead of moving forward together, they would go in reverse or stay stuck in neutral. But as frustrating as it would get, their story felt real because they're going through what actual couples go through. Happily-ever-after is something you have to actively work at and you never take the happiness you have now for granted because there are no guarantees you're going to wake up tomorrow still feeling it at the same level and intensity. Jamie and Wes stumble but at the end of the day, they're there to pick each other up because that's what best friends and committed partners do. Le sigh. Five-plus stars for Us. ♥
Release Date: 08 March 2016
Date Read: 03 March 2016