Thursday, July 2, 2020

Just Like That by Cole McCade Blog Tour

Summer Hemlock never meant to come back to Omen, Massachusetts.

But with his mother in need of help, Summer has no choice but to return to his hometown, take up a teaching residency at the Albin Academy boarding school—and work directly under the man who made his teenage years miserable.

Professor Fox Iseya.

Forbidding, aloof, commanding: psychology instructor Iseya is a cipher who’s always fascinated and intimidated shy, anxious Summer. But that fascination turns into something more when the older man challenges Summer to be brave. What starts as a daily game to reward Summer with a kiss for every obstacle overcome turns passionate, and a professional relationship turns quickly personal.

Yet Iseya’s walls of grief may be too high for someone like Summer to climb… until Summer’s infectious warmth shows Fox everything he’s been missing in life.

Now both men must be brave enough to trust each other, to take that leap.

To find the love they’ve always needed…

Just like that.

In Just Like That, critically acclaimed author Cole McCade introduces us to Albin Academy: a private boys’ school where some of the world’s richest families send their problem children to learn discipline and maturity, out of the public eye.

Carina Adores is home to highly romantic contemporary love stories featuring beloved romance tropes, where LGBTQ+ characters find their happily-ever-afters.

Book 1
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Carina Adores – Harlequin

“Extinguisher first, then sand,” the voice ordered. “Dr. Liu, if you insist on getting in the way, at least make your¬self useful and remove anything else flammable from the vicinity of the blaze. Quickly, now. Keep your mouths covered.”

Summer’s entire body tingled, prickled, as if his skin had drawn too tight. That voice—that voice brought back too many memories. Afternoons in his psychology elec¬tive class, staring down at his textbook and doodling in his notebook and refusing to look up, to look at anyone, while that voice washed over him for an hour. Summer knew that voice almost better than the face attached to it, every inflection and cadence, the way it could command silence with a quiet word more effectively than any shout.

And how sometimes it seemed more expressive than the cold, withdrawn expression of the man he remembered, standing tall and stern in front of a class of boys who were all just a little bit afraid of him.

Summer had never been afraid, not really.

But he hadn’t had the courage to whisper to himself what he’d really felt, when he’d been a hopeless boy who’d done everything he could to be invisible.

Heart beating harder, he followed the sound of that voice to the open doorway of a smoke-filled room, the entire chemistry lab a haze of gray and black and crackling or¬ange; from what he could tell a table was…on fire? Or at least the substance inside a blackened beaker was on fire, belching out a seemingly never-ending, impossible billow of smoke and flame.

Several smaller fires burned throughout the room; it looked as though sparks had jumped to catch on notebooks, papers, books. Several indistinct shapes alternately sprayed the conflagration with fire extinguishers and doused it with little hand buckets of sand from the emergency kit in the corner of the room, everyone working clumsily one-handed while they held wet paper towels over their noses and mouths with the other.

And standing tall over them all—several teachers and older students, it looked like—was the one man Summer had returned to Omen to see.

Professor Iseya.

He stood head and shoulders above the rest, his broad-shouldered, leanly angular frame as proud as a battle stan¬dard, elegant in a trim white button-down tucked into dark gray slacks, suspenders striping in neat black lines down his chest. Behind slim glasses, his pale, sharply angled gray eyes flicked swiftly over the room, set in a narrow, graceful face that had only weathered with age into an ivory mask of quiet, aloof beauty.

The sleek slick of his ink-black hair was pulled back from his face as always—but as always, he could never quite keep the soft strands inside their tie, and several wisped free to frame his face, lay against his long, smooth neck, pour down his shoulders and back. He held a damp paper towel over his mouth, neatly folded into a square, and spoke through it to direct the frazzled-looking group with con¬summate calm, taking complete control of the situation.

And complete control of Summer, as Iseya’s gaze abruptly snapped to him, locking on him from across the room. “Why have you not evacuated?” Iseya demanded coldly, his words precise, inflected with a softly cultured accent. “Please vacate the premises until we’ve contained the blaze.”

Summer dropped his eyes immediately—habit, staring down at his feet. “Oh, um—I came to help,” he mumbled through the collar of his shirt.

A pause, then, “You’re not a student. Who are you?”

That shouldn’t sting.

But then it had been seven years, he’d only been in two of Iseya’s classes… and he’d changed, since he’d left Omen.

At least, he hoped he had.

That was why he’d run away, after all. To shake off the boy he’d been; to find himself in a big city like Baltimore, and maybe, just maybe…

Learn not to be so afraid.

But he almost couldn’t bring himself to speak, while the silence demanded an answer. “I’m not a student anymore,” he corrected, almost under his breath. “It’s… it’s me. Summer. Summer Hemlock. Your new TA.” He made himself look up, even if he didn’t raise his head, peeking at Iseya through the wreathing of smoke that made the man look like some strange and ghostly figure, this ethereal spirit swirled in mist and darkness. “Hi, Professor Iseya. Hi.”

Copyright © 2020 by Cole McCade

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Summer returns to his former boarding school to work as a teacher’s assist for his former psychology professor and teenage crush, Fox Iseya. I'm not often a fan to romance stories with large age gap but it really works here. Fox and Summer are night and day. Fox is stoic and controlled and Summer is a bundle of nerves and anxiety. But he is also brave. Although he feels his anxiety, he still goes head first into situations he fears. The men complement each other so well.

Just Like That is a lovely romance. The author's writing is beautifully descriptive, which I initially enjoyed but around the middle, the story slowed down a bit and I wanted less description about kisses and more getting on with the story. Luckily, the story picked up nicely and gave us a bit of drama.

This is one of those romance novels that very much focuses on the couple and other characters on come in as absolutely necessary. They work in a school, but we know very little about the other staff. Given this is the first book in a series, I would have liked to have learned a little more about the school and its inhabitants. Overall, I enjoyed Just Like That, it is a good romance and I look forward to reading more of this series.

Summer Hemlock has always been the shy, keep to yourself kind of guy. Especially when he was in Professor Fox Iseya's psychology class. Now he's back at Albin Academy, not as a student but as Professor Iseya's TA. Summer still finds Professor Iseya intimidating but now as an adult, Summer is a bit braver, especially when he's given a little push and some amazing incentive.

Summer and Fox's relationship was years in the making. Fox's wife died in a tragic accident and Fox has never been able to get over his grief, but with Summer giving him the push he needs, maybe he can finally find himself again.

This book wasn't bad but I didn't feel a connection at all with the characters. The writing was done well but it just wasn't my personal preference.

Cole McCade is a new-to-me author, and I felt the debut in a new series was the perfect chance to get a taste of the writing style, especially since I'm a fan of the tropes inside the pages.

Summer returns to an academy, this time as the TA for the professor he had a crush on when he was a student. Not only that, he's assisting the very professor he loved, a professor who is a widower, many years his senior, and is probably straight. They challenge one another, while fighting anxiety. Now, doesn't that sound like yummy deliciousness?

Just Like That was beautifully written, mature and intelligent, with a steady pace as the story unfolded. Now, doesn't that sound amazing as well? I think this is a case of where the writing style doesn't suit me as a reader. Can a novel be too intelligent?

There was a voice filled with flowery purple prose that was absolutely beautiful in the storytelling. However, this buried the story beneath the pretty, beneath the intellect, until it made it hard to connect with the characters. Reminiscent of classic novels, where you had to truly dig beneath all the words on the page to find the handful that meant anything, and this is being said by someone who enjoys historical fiction and has read the bulk majority of the classics.

I felt nothing but disconnected the entire time I was reading the novel.

I couldn't connect with Summer or Fox. What made it more difficult, there wasn't a firm divide when the characters switched narration. Since I could 'hear' the writer's voice the entire novel, and both Summer and Fox both sounded identical. With the large age-gap, the fact that Summer was a recent college graduate, yet he sounded exactly like the professor love interest that was ready to retire.

No matter how you pretty up the narration, it all starts to sound one-note. The plot itself was intriguing, but it was buried beneath over-description, purple prose, and rambling inner monologue.

It was easy for me to lose focus, knowing the couple would find their happily ever after together, I lost interest in the journey to get there. I kept thinking I would eventually fall into the story, but that never happened, even when I got to the end. I found myself skimming more and more as I waded through the novel.

While I'm sure there is a base of readers who will be delighted in Just Like That, I wasn't one of them. The writing style isn't to my tastes, so this will be the first and the last novel I'll read by this author.

Cole McCade is a New Orleans-born Southern boy without the Southern accent, currently residing somewhere in Seattle. He spends his days as a suit-and-tie corporate consultant and business writer, and his nights writing contemporary romance and erotica that flirts with the edge of taboo—when he’s not being tackled by two hyperactive cats.

He also writes genre-bending science fiction and fantasy tinged with a touch of horror and flavored by the influences of his multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual background as Xen. He wavers between calling himself bisexual, calling himself queer, and trying to figure out where “demi” fits into the whole mess—but no matter what word he uses he’s a staunch advocate of LGBTQIA and POC representation and visibility in genre fiction. And while he spends more time than is healthy hiding in his writing cave instead of hanging around social media, you can generally find him in these usual haunts.

Connect with Cole

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Just Like That (Albin Academy #1) by Cole McCade to read and review for this tour.

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