Thursday, August 10, 2017

Review: Under the Boardwalk (The Landmarks Series) by Felice Stevens

under the boardwalkTitle ~ Under the Boardwalk

Author ~ Felice Stevens

Published ~  8th August 2017

Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance

Rating

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Synopsis

Beneath the famous Brooklyn landmark, love is hidden but not denied:
All his life, Alexi Kharpov has dreamed of traveling to unknown exciting places instead of working at his family’s frozen custard stand on the famous Coney Island boardwalk. Every year is the same until a gorgeous man picks a spot in front of his stand to sing, captivating him with his beautiful voice. After two summers of listening, it might finally be time for him to cross that boardwalk and take a chance.
Opera singer Cameron Maxwell has traveled the world, but the sight of the beautiful man serving custard to tourists touches his heart like nothing ever has before. A summer fling might be exactly what he needs to put his problems out of his mind, but the last thing Cam expects is to want the summer to last forever.
It’s a season of discovery for both men who learn to dig deep within their heads and hearts to decide whether secrets old and new should remain buried, or if love is too important to keep hidden under the boardwalk.

 

Debra’s Review

If the title alone doesn’t have that iconic song by The Drifters running through your head, I guarantee it will be at some time during this story. Felice Stevens brings the Coney Island boardwalk to life in this romantic story. Even if you’ve never been there, you’ll have no trouble picturing it as Alexi and Cam fall in love under the boardwalk, down by the sea (okay, so it’s the Atlantic Ocean but that doesn’t fit with the song).

I was hooked from the Prologue. Alexi and Cam have been secretly eyeing each other for two summers across the boardwalk; Cam as he sings for tips and Alexi from behind the counter of his family’s custard stand. Alexi has never left Brooklyn, living with and hiding from his family, including his father who is stuck in the old Russian ways and his judgmental cousin Dimitri. He dreams of one day traveling the world but for now is stuck working and going to school. Cam is out and proud, has traveled the world and has a live for today attitude. A summer fling with the adorable guy at the custard stand who he’s been eyeing since last summer would be just the thing. When he finally catches Alexi’s eye as he’s checking Cam out, Cam makes the first move and asks Alexi out.

Things heat up very quickly between them, despite Alexi’s fear of being seen. After a week of stolen moments under the boardwalk and on the beach, nights at Cam’s apartment and a couple of dates both men know they are falling hard. They don’t want to admit it out loud, but neither wants to see things end come September. But a future together might not be possible when both men get news that could change their lives and will require some difficult decisions. Complicated family dynamics and uncertain futures could ensure their relationship doesn’t make it through the summer.

Felice Stevens packs a lot into this novella, especially where Alexi is concerned. Alexi first comes off as innocent and a bit na├»ve, but there is a fire and strength inside him that being with Cam has stoked. Alexi now has more than one reason to take a leap and reach out to grab everything he has always wanted and he is almost ready to do it. Cam has seemingly lived out all of Alexi’s dreams already, but for different reasons. When Cam can no longer avoid his past decisions coming back to affect his future and how much he wants more time with Alexi, his method of dealing with things is avoidance. One thing he is certain of is that regardless of how much he likes Alexi, he won’t do anything to keep him from pursuing his dreams and experiencing all life has to offer.

This is a hot, sweet, romantic beach read, although you may want to get in front of the AC since Alexi and Cam have amazing chemistry and share plenty of sexy times, but there is also plenty of character growth and emotional ups and downs. At one point I was alternately cheering and holding my breath as Alexi finds the strength to confront one of his biggest fears; not everything is neat and tidy in the end, but there is hope that in time it will be. As far as Alexi’s and Cam’s big decisions went, I thought they played out realistically and perfectly.

Part of The Landmarks Series of stories (the first being Ferry-Tale by Kade Boehme) it’s a standalone and ends happily for Alexi and Cam as they start a new adventure. Consider this the official start of my campaign to get Felice Stevens to write a follow-up story to see just how things progress for these two.

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Meet Felice Stevens

Felice Stevens has always been a romantic at heart. While life is tough, she believes there is a happy ending for everyone. She started reading traditional historical romances as a teenager, then life and law school got in the way. It wasn't until she picked up a copy of Bertrice Small and became swept away to Queen Elizabeth's court that her interest in romance novels was renewed. But somewhere along the way, her reading shifted to stories of men falling in love. Once she picked up her first gay romance, she became so enamored of the character-driven stories and the overwhelming emotion there was no turning back. Felice lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Her day begins with a lot of caffeine and ends with a glass or two of red wine. Although she practices law, she daydreams of a time when she can sit by a beach and write beautiful stories of men falling in love. Although there is bound to be some angst along the way, a Happily Ever After is always guaranteed.

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