Wednesday, November 21, 2012

SERIES REVIEW: Holsum College series (#1-4) by Daisy Harris

College Boys (Men of Holsum College, #1)
College Boys by Daisy Harris
(Holsum College #1)

RATING: 4 Stars

SUMMARY: When soccer star Chris Fischer moves next door to an openly gay classmate, he doesn't realize the wall between their rooms will be so thin he'll hear his neighbor's every move. But soon he and Peter become friends, and Chris is intrigued—imagining what happens on the other side of the wall.

Active on the Queer Student Council, Peter Cohen wishes he wasn't so damn hot for his straight neighbor. He can't tell if Chris is flirting or in denial or what, but Chris's innocent overtures lure Peter into flirtation that throws his world into chaos. Peter doesn't want to date a closet case, but he desperately, passionately wants Chris.

Soon Chris must choose whether to run away from his new feelings or embrace a relationship with the guy he loves. And Peter must decide if he can give his heart to a guy who hasn't yet figured it all out.

College Boys was a very sweet and spicy romance between two relatable heroes.  The setting for this book and the others in the series is a small liberal arts college in Vermont.  Holsum College provides a great background for a variety of love stories and also gives a reader a nostalgic view of those early adult years.

Both heroes are well-written and easy to care about.  Chris is a successful soccer player who starts to rethink his view on life like many college students.  Despite the difficulty of his situation, there isn't much brooding on Chris's part which I liked.  Peter's self-confidence is inspiring and a reader can see how Chris could be attracted to that.  Together they are a great couple and provide plenty of sexy scenes especially the ones where they "talk" through the wall separating their dorm rooms.  I also really liked all the secondary characters and hope to see them pop up in later Holsum installments.

In terms of plot, I am always intrigued by stories that focus on coming out and this is a great one. 
Chris's coming out tale is appropriately dramatic without ever going into cheesiness.  There isn't alot of angst in this book which I liked.  I recommend this to anyone looking for a sexy, but very spicy story about young love and the importance of being true to oneself.

Diva and the Frat Boy (Men of Holsum College, #2)
Diva and the Frat Boy by Daisy Harris
(Holsum College #2)

RATING: 3 Stars

SUMMARY: Nathaniel Reece is savvy and fierce and wouldn’t give boring-ass Greg Sanders the time of day, except Greg is the president of a fraternity Nathaniel wants to join. But once Nathaniel gets a taste of the ferocity under Greg’s cool exterior, he can’t stop himself from trying to lure the uptight frat brother out of his shell.

The face of gay life on campus and a crusader heading off to law school, Greg doesn’t see any problem with seducing the flamboyant and exciting Nathaniel. But that’s before he finds out his fraternity brothers are refusing Nathaniel's pledge bid. Greg’s athletic and masculine and has never had to deal with the censure of his friends or the odd looks of strangers, but if he’s going to be what Nathaniel needs, he’ll have to be comfortable not just being out, but also standing out.
I enjoyed this second installment in the Holsum College series, but not nearly as much as I did the first book, College Boys.  Like the previous story, Diva and the Frat Boy takes place on the campus of Holsum College in rural Vermont and is essentially a sweet, quick love story.

I thought Nathaniel and Greg were interesting characters, but I never felt like I got to know them well enough to care much about their happy ending.  I could see how the author was trying to go beyond cliches, but they both felt a little flat.  I really liked Nathaniel in College Boys and wish that he would have been given more depth in his own story than in the earlier book.  The romance was very sweet, but there were some moments where I thought Greg was a bit of an ass and he never really groveled enough for my taste.  

But, all that being said, I still enjoyed reading this book and will definitely continue the series.

Townie and the Twink (Men of Holsum College, #3)
Townie and the Twink by Daisy Harris
(Holsum College #3)

RATING: 3 Stars

SUMMARY: Insightful to a fault, Gabe Ashton knows Nick Flynn’s gay even if Nick doesn’t. And after seeing how the townie looks at his "buddy," Gabe knows Nick is in love with a guy who’ll never love him back. So Gabe invites Nick to campus parties and to hang out with new people. But soon their friendship turns physical, and Gabe wonders if he’s in just as much denial as Nick is.

Nick’s straight—or so he’s always assumed. But he can’t deny that the things he’s doing with Gabe are hot. More than that, he likes Gabe in a way he’s never liked anyone else. Well, anyone else except his high school friend, John.

The hardest thing to give up is a fantasy, and the hardest thing to face is the truth. But if Nick wants the man standing in front of him, he’ll have to give up the one he never had.

I liked Townie and the Twink much more than Diva and the Frat Boy, but it still didn't capture the magic of College Boys for me.  Still, I enjoyed learning more about the boys of Holsum College which continues to become a more detailed and sometimes poignant setting as the series progresses.

Both main characters were interesting and went beyond the typical gay stereotypes despite Gabe's flamboyant nature.  Gabe was a hilarious protagonist and I loved reading about how insightful he was about others' sexuality.  He was obviously very confident with himself which is very admirable and an interesting parallel to Nick.  I did get a bit frustrated with how oblivious Nick was to admitting his true feelings, but I am willing to give him a pass.  His confession to Gabe was very sweet and had me sighing with contentment.

The plot was simplistic, but still kept my attention especially when it came to Nick discovering his true feelings for Gabe.  Like the other Holsum books, the sex is pretty erotic and a big part of the overall storyline.  But, what I really enjoy is how the author uses those scenes to further the development of the romance.  Very entertaining installment of a continually entertaining series!

Player and the Prude (Men of Holsum College, #4)
Player and the Prude by Daisy Harris
(Holsum College #4)

RATING: 4 Stars

SUMMARY: Brooks Price loves a challenge. So when a frenemy dares him to sleep with a dorky, over-tall film major, Brooks amps up his considerable charm.

Matt Porter can’t guess why Brooks is flirting with him. Raised religious, Matt doesn’t believe in sex before relationships. Unfortunately, Brooks is all about sex, and Matt doubts Brooks is interested in anything else.

Slowly, Brooks chips away at Matt’s armor—taking him on dates, asking for kisses, holding hands—baby steps, none of which Matt can resist or refuse. However, when Brooks pushes too far, Matt freaks out.

Despite his stoic exterior, Matt’s painfully conflicted over his sexuality—scared of his darker desires, worried about hurting Brooks. The pair explores boundaries, but when things turn rough and Matt unleashes his inner wants, he doesn’t know if he can overcome his shame about sex in order to be with the man he’s growing to love.

Now this is what I'm talking about!  I had been getting a little disappointed with this series because the previous two books didn't match the potential I saw in the first.  But, Player and the Prude threw all my expectations out the window and gave me a fascinating story that kept me up late into the night.  As a warning, this is much darker than the other Holsum College novellas and I really enjoyed that aspect.  The authors plays around with some different, more controversial themes in this book and I think the gamble paid off.  

Readers first met Brooks and Matt in the previous book, Townie and the Twink, Matt being Gabe's roommate and Brooks being Gabe's occasional lover.  Based on the last book, I wasn't sure if I would like Brooks.  His arrogant, pampered personality was a little jarring at first, but his transformation to devoted lover was a great thing to read about.   And then there's Matt and I fell in love with him from the first pages of his narration.  Matt is a poorly dressed, overly tall student who had a difficult childhood with his narrow-mind hometown and family.  His journey to confidence with his sexuality and his trust in Brooks was dramatic, but worth the price by the end.

Brooks and Matt are a wonderful couple!  Even though they appear to be polar opposites in personality, they provide balance and devotion for one another.  Some of my favorite scenes involved Brooks reassuring Matt of his true feelings for me and him taking his time with the more sexual side of the relationship.  This book made me run the gamut of emotions from anger to tears to joy and that, for me, is the sign of a great read!

1 comment:

  1. Great reviews! My favorites from the series are #2 and #4. Both 4 stars for me.


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