Review: Living Out Loud by Christina Lee & Nyrae Dawn

Note: This ARC was provided by the authors via Michelle Slagan in exchange for an honest review.

He pulls me against him, and I slip my tongue in his mouth. My lip piercing digs into my lip. He tastes like Ben and I want to devour him. My head spins and my dick gets hard, and fuck if I can't feel his heart beating, vibrating from chest through mine. He gives me another moan I am lucky enough to swallow down, and why the fuck haven't I spent my life kissing Ben Emerson?

Maybe I should just hand over my heart to Christina Lee and Nyrae Dawn each time I read a book they've written and just ask for it back when I'm done. Maybe then the poor thing won't feel so battered and bruised because come on! It's not fair how these two are able to take bits and pieces of my heart while I become all immersed in their books. I'm a self-confessed Christina Lee stalker slash fangirl and I've loved Nyrae Dawn's (and Riley Hart's!) novels in the past, but these two together have some sort of devious special writing duo power that my kryptonite.

Living Out Loud takes two supporting characters from the authors' previous releases--Benjamin Emerson from Paint the Stars, the third novel in Lee and Dawn's Free Fall series and where Ben was Ezra Greene's ex, and Xavier Ramos from Dawn's standalone A Hundred Thousand Words, where Xavier was Tobias Jackson's roommate--and gives them a tale worth telling (and reading). It's a story about acceptance and how the only kind of we can demand is the one we give ourselves. Without self-acceptance, we can never really live to our fullest and loudest.

Ben and Xavier were best friends growing up, with less than stellar home lives, becoming each other's anchor lest they be swept away in all the fundamentalist religious preaching of Ben's parents and the rejection of Xavier's. But one kiss at fourteen has Ben pushing Xavier away, their friendship faltering, and then Xavier's family moving elsewhere a year later. When Ben decides the time has finally come to leave his parents and their church, he lands in San Francisco, the same city where Xavier now lives. Can their close friendship be rekindled over a decade later?

Xavier left home at eighteen and discovered things about himself along the way to finding home in San Francisco. When he receives a Facebook message from his old best friend, he hedges but ultimately decides to respond to Ben. Falling into their old friendship isn't difficult, and neither is stepping to a no-strings-attached exploration of everything Ben has missed out on. Ben wants to learn and Xavier is ready and willing to teach him, but can Ben really stop himself from falling for the first boy to kiss him--the boy who's now a man who makes him want more.

Ben had a thing or two to learn about truly living his best life, and Xavier wanted to be the one to show him all the possibilities that are now before him. However, for as much as they've cut ties with their respective families, too many years of rejection from their parents has left a wound that may not be seen but can still be felt. Xavier shields himself, keeping a lot of people at arm's length because his father and stepmother never wanted a child, while Ben suffered through revulsion and attempts at conversion because his parents could never accept their son was gay.

These two young men had freedom, but they had yet to truly be free in every sense of the word. That would require Xavier opening himself up to commitment and giving every bit of who he was to Ben. On the other hand, being free meant Ben had to be wholly accept who he was and living loud and proud rather than in either silence or whispers, for fear of rejection, which was something Xavier had experience with as well. Christina Lee and Nyrae Dawn gave us a story about having faith in yourself and being and loving YOU. Living Out Loud gets five-plus stars. ♥

Date Read: 03 September 2017

Learn more about Christina Lee and Nyrae Dawn.

Purchase Living Out Loud on Amazon.


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