Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Worth Waiting For by Wendy Qualls

A small-town in the Deep South isn’t where most gay men would choose to go looking for love. But open hearts will find a way…

Growing up in the Bible Belt, Paul Dunham learned from a young age to hide his sexuality. Now he’s teaching psychology at a conservative college in Georgia—and still hiding who he really is. If Paul hopes to get tenure, he needs to keep his desires on the down-low. But when an old college crush shows up on campus—looking more gorgeous than ever—Paul’s long-suppressed urges are just too big for one little closet to hold…

Brandon Mercer has come a long way since his freshman year fumbling's with Paul. Now he’s confident, accomplished, proudly out—and the sexiest IT consultant Paul’s ever seen. When Brandon asks Paul to grab some coffee and catch up, it leads to a steamy reunion that puts their first night of passion to shame. But when Paul’s longtime crush turns into a full-time romance, he receives an anonymous email threatening to expose their secret to the world. If Paul stays with Brandon, his teaching career is over. Yet if he caves under pressure, he risks losing the one true love he’s been waiting for…

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Book 1
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I’ll get straight to the point with this review. Dr. Paul Dunham is one of the most tediously boring protagonists I have ever attempted to engage with. Even after finishing Paul’s story, I still have no idea why a gay man would spend more than ten years of his life studying then working at a conservative Christian college.

Paul admits several times in this book that he has no interests, hobbies, or friends. He lives for his work and his closest relationship is with his twin sister who lives on another continent. He has spent a nearly chaste life in the closet due to a combination of family expectations and religious guilt. Sadly, I’m sure there are many people like Paul in this world, but I’m also sure I don’t want to read about them.

Brandon is a much easier character to engage with. He is out and proud, engaging, and sociable. I’m not entirely sure why he allows himself to get entangled in Paul’s endless circles of guilt and shame, but I kept wanting to urge him to run away. Much like the rest of Brandon’s life, his job is much more interesting than Paul’s. While Paul conducts research into the impact of emotion on decision making (even Paul didn’t seem excited by his research), Brandon is sifting through the university’s IT system in pursuit of cyber criminals. I kept wanting more of everything Brandon in this book and less of Paul.

My response to this story feels quite personal and biased. As someone who quickly transferred out of a Christian university and ran far away from my Bible Belt home, I had very little empathy for Paul in this story. His cowardice makes him miserable and life is so much better on the other side. For the same reasons, I struggled with both Paul and Brandon’s yearnings for a traditional suburban happily ever after. This desire for a traditional family life draws these men together but for me, it felt like an ugly compromise still tainted by Paul’s Christian guilt and shame.

I know this is a more personal and more negative response than I usually have to a book, so I’d advise readers to make their own judgements about this story.

Wendy Qualls was a small-town librarian until she finished reading everything her library had to offer. At that point she put her expensive and totally unrelated college degree to use by writing smutty romance novels and wasting time on the internet. She lives in Northern Alabama with her husband, two daughters, two dogs, and a seasonally fluctuating swarm of unwanted ladybugs. She’s a member of both the Romance Writers of America and way too many online writers’ forums.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Worth Waiting For (Heart of the South #1) by Wendy Qualls to read and review.

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