It's Like This by Anne O'Gleadra

A brave and funny love story about the anxieties, insecurities, and heartaches that drive people apart and bring them back together, It’s Like This is the journey of Niles and Rylan, as they learn to communicate in the shadow of a life-changing illness.

Niles and Rylan have been together a long time. They have great sex, they are deeply intimate, and Rylan never holds back on displaying his affection. As far as their family and friends are concerned, they’re an established couple, and yet, after three years of being “together”, Niles is still unsure if they’re actually in a relationship.

As their sexual intensity reaches a dangerous tipping point, Niles must find the courage to articulate how he feels in order to try and keep the only thing he has ever wanted. Emotional and compelling, It’s Like This is a must-read for true romantics.
It is said that no man is an island. In Niles’ case, that is bullshit.

He’s clueless, seriously clueless, and while they should have driven me nutters, the way the author portrays his cluelessness is incredibly endearing. That doesn’t mean I didn’t want to smack him upside the head repeatedly and yell, “For fucks sake SAY something already.” But that isn’t how Niles operates and I really appreciated how his personality evolved and he did improve, but he didn’t change so much that he became a different character. He didn’t lose all his neuroses, but he did start overcoming them and that is way more believable than some alpha dude who can’t admit his feelings because of testosterone blockage and then a magic penis gives him the gift of romance-speak and all of a sudden he’s spouting flowery prose and undying declarations of love. When a quiet man overcomes his fears of opening himself up and making himself vulnerable, the words he does say have so much more impact.

There were so many instances that I highlighted because his phrasing was just perfect.

“ . . . I’m pretty sure over-analyzing stuff never got anyone anywhere they wanted to go.”

“We converse as friends, and then we fuck like something more, but we don’t mix the two. Not ever.”

“My heart rate tells me this freaks me out, but my erection tells me this turns me on . . . “

“I love the me he brings to the surface.”

“I needlessly complicate shit and he resolves it and that is how we work.”

So, Niles is confused and he literally has no clue how to communicate effectively. I could feel his fears and empathize with him and he would “force myself not to fall into another shame spiral”. He knew he was being irrational, but that is just how he’s wired. He and Rylan have been together, maybe, possibly, for three years but he doesn’t know where they stand in the short term, the long term or any term in between. He’s so obviously in love with Rylan and so obviously afraid to ruin the status quo he does nothing but stew in his own brain.

Rylan was a bit of a mystery at first and I liked how his character was introduced somewhat piecemeal but then how his character became fully realized through Niles’ eyes. As Niles opens up, more of Rylan is revealed and the evolution of Niles completes Rylan’s character. There is so much more to him than even what Niles knows and damn, but these two are perfect for each other. Their kinks complement each other perfectly. Like, really, really perfectly.

Rylan isn’t without his hurts and fears and as Niles finally begins pulling his head out of his ass and seeing, really seeing the people around him he’s able to be the man that Rylan needs too. It’s a damn good thing these two burgeoning kinksters found one another and love each other so much. If Niles were to go and try and get his needs fulfilled elsewhere it could be a disaster of epic proportions. The stories we love so much about the perfect Dom coming along and taking the inexperienced and naïve sub under his wing are, I’m pretty sure, a crock of crap. Niles would more likely than not get himself into a world of hurt. Either that or he’d live a completely unfulfilled life and become a bitter and regretful old man. Either would be a tragedy and a waste, so Rylan is his world and as the story evolves we learn the sentiment flows both ways.

Not that these two didn’t take some crazy chances, it was never with any harmful intentions or without some forethought. Even if said forethought was one sided and a complete mystery to the other side. They’re young and inexperienced, they don’t communicate, they are dumbass boys playing grown up games. But, they learned, slowly but surely they learned and found their balance.

Even before the “talking” it was obvious the feelings they shared were real and it made their sexual adventures incredibly hot and because of some of the dumbassery, incredibly nerve wracking. That made it read “real” though and the author captured that equilibrium so well.

These guys are sweet, witty as hell and have kinky streaks a mile long and I loved them both to pieces. One thing I would like the author to consider is a follow up story for them. Maybe? Possibly? Huh? Huh? They have a LOT of exciting changes coming soon and I would LOVE to read them. I really can’t get enough of Niles’ manic voice and Rylan’s calming presence.

Find out more about this book over at Goodreads.

***a copy of this book was provided for an honest review***

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