Title: Test Drive
Author: Riley Hart
Narrator: Sean Crisden
Series: Crossroads #3
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Release Date: 11-08-2016
Genre(s): M/M Bisexual, M/M Contemporary Romance, M/M Coming Out
Page Count: 238
Listening Time: 5h 53m
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A double shot of devastating news turns Justin Evanson’s life upside down. When he learns his father has cancer, and he has siblings he never knew existed, he leaves everything behind and moves to Virginia to support his dad as he tries to make amends with his family—a family Justin’s not sure he has a place in. Things go from bad to worse when he discovers his recent hookup is his newfound sister’s brother-in-law.
Drew Sinclair never expected to see Justin after their night at the club or to discover their family connection. If anyone found out, it would give Drew’s brother another reason to hate him. But there’s something about Justin that draws him in, and it’s not only because they burn up the sheets together.
One meeting leads to another, and before Justin realizes it, Drew has become the only thing in his world he feels is his. And for the first time in his life, Drew knows what it means to be needed. Being there for Justin and supporting him when things spiral out of control feels right. But with so much happening so quickly, it’s hard to trust their feelings. Is this thing between them real? Or just a test drive before life forces them down two separate roads?
4.5 stars- Palpable chemistry and emotional scenes
I have to say Test Drive is my favorite of the Crossroads series. The start was a little slow, but it quickly picked up once the characters form a connection. The writing and pacing was relaxed and steady as I’ve come to expect from this author and series. In the other books from the series, I always missed that extra push of emotion where I felt the struggles of the characters. In Test Drive, the emotion came through more cleanly. Perhaps the difference was due to the conflict surrounding the families and the imminent loss of Justin’s father heightening all the emotions in the book.
Both Justin and Drew struggle to fit into their families for different reasons. The issues with the family don’t take away from the romance either. Instead, we get to see them lending strength while they confided in one another. The couple supporting each other through difficulties is a theme throughout this series, and it adds a pronounced depth to the relationship. However, I thought Test Drive balanced the emotions better than the others. There was support without coddling, a sufficient amount of angst that never overran the romance, and through it all you feel the steadiness of their relationship. I also found the chemistry between Drew and Justin stronger, and consequently the love was more palpable.
The romance starts off as an anonymous hook up that is hot, but purely lust driven. This lust quickly and smoothly transitioned into more. I was never left wishing I saw the development of the relationship because it is right in the open for the reader to see how well they work together as a couple. At the start of Test Drive, Drew has just begun exploring his bisexuality and he isn’t out to his family and friends. His coming out never became a central theme in the plot like Crossroads, but it added an interesting component to the romance while ratcheting up the sexiness. As in the author’s other books, the sex scenes and bedroom chemistry is very hot. I think having the extra layer of emotion and connection with the couple made the scenes that much steamier.
Once again, Sean Crisden did a good job narrating the book. His cadence conveyed the emotion of the storyline well, and it upped my overall enjoyment. When I first read the blurb and met the characters in the second book, I didn’t know what to expect. It seemed like a lot of dark experiences to tackle for this generally lighter series, but it surprised me again and again. I absolutely loved this couple. Though I was happy when they got their happiness, I was also sad to read “the end”.