Title: Block and Strike
Author: Kelly Jensen
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: 01-06-2017
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 266
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Jacob Kendricks is three months out of prison, estranged from his daughter, and ready to get his life on track. Taking care of the bum curled up on his doorstep isn’t part of the plan. When he realizes the man has been assaulted, Jake takes him to the hospital, where he learns that Max is his downstairs neighbor… and that he could really use a friend. Keeping Max in the friend-zone would be easier if he wasn’t so damned cute.
Maxwell Wilson has been bullied for years, and the only person who ever cared lives too far away to come to his rescue. Now his upstairs neighbor is offering support. Max remains cautious, suspecting he is little more than a project for the handsome Jake. When he learns Jake has had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, Max has to reevaluate his priorities—and muster the courage to take a chance at love.
Just when a happy future is within their grasp, life knocks them back down. A devastating blow leaves Max lower than ever and Jake wrestling with regret. They both have to find the strength to stand on their own before they can stand together.
Jacob Kendricks has recently left prison after being incarcerated for injuring his ex-girlfriends abusive new boyfriend and he is trying to put his life back together. This has also caused a forced separation from his young daughter Caroline. He has been working with his parole officer to do everything possible to keep his nose clean. One evening he returns home to find what he thinks is a homeless person passed out on his doorstep but is in fact his quiet downstairs neighbour Max and he appears to have been beaten up. Jake does the right thing with the help of his sister and gets Maxto hospital.
Max has been bullied most of his life and his father taught him that the beatings would make him more of a man and so he has learned its easier to just take the beatings than to fight back and make it worse for himself.
During Max’s recovery Jake and Max become best friends and Jake finds himself wanting more but is unsure whether Max is gay and how he will react to Jake being bisexual. Jake takes Max to kid Dojo classes to help Max learn some self defence, whilst there he encounters Barry one of the other class members who is homophobic towards Max. I found this element of the story frustrating as Barry was never really called out on it or apologised for this.
“Happiness is so subjective. And so damned fleeting. It’s moments, Max. You know what I value? Contentment. That’s what I feel when I’m with you. Like all’s right with the world. Mine, yours. That’s deeper than happiness. You make me happy, too. By God. I love the highs and I’m okay with the lows. The steady line, though? That’s what it’s all about.”
This is a slow burn and sweet story of love and acceptance. I really liked both Max and Jake and their chemistry and love is realistic and believable. The secondary characters are well developed and bring an added dimension to the story, particularly Jake’s best friend Eric and Jake’s family.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it if you love a sweet slow burn interesting read!