Review: Dreams and Expectations (Before... and After, #4) by Susan Laine

At what point are differences irreparable?

Tom McAllister and Nick Corwin have always had a comfortable friendship, even though Nick is a Native American webcomic artist and Tom’s father is a rigid Christian. But they’re about to discover growing up means more challenges than choosing a college major. It might mean making decisions that change pivotal relationships—or sever them.

When a bully confronts Tom and Nick and a dark, unsettling aspect of Tom emerges, Nick is shaken enough to end their friendship. As both young men struggle to balance their own dreams with the expectations of their families—both in terms of career and faith—they recognize the emptiness that parting ways has left in their lives. But when reconciliation leads to confessions that might mean something more than friendship between them, will it make their path easier to navigate or more difficult?

This series certainly has its ups and downs. I love the idea of it, best friends going from friends before to lovers after. The trope of friends to lovers has always been a favorite of mine but this installment had something missing.

For me, I didn’t feel Nick and Tom as a couple. I liked how close they were as friends and really wish the whole Bill incident didn’t happen as it did. I think had Tom not been physical and used homophobic slurs and maybe just defended Nick and then came to realize his feelings were more than platonic, the story could have been believable.

The first two stories in this series were more on the exploratory side of bisexuality or ones sexuality being fluid and I liked that. I am not sure why the author decided to throw violence into these last two but it has been a disservice to the romance of these young men. Though the violence was not aimed at either main character, Nick has a visceral reaction to how Tom dealt with the situation and it made this reader take a step back.

The friendship Nick and Tom has was enough to build upon with an “OMG I am butt crazy in love with my best friend” sort of story. They’ve been friends so long and really affectionate that the next step to exploring how they feel would have been organic had the violence not been there. But as it was, the story felt rushed and I can’t downshift that fast to get my head around Tom suddenly realizing he is in love with Nick.

The sex was completely unbelievable for me. It was over the top and borderline cheesy where again, keeping it simple and sweet while still being sexy is doable with a story like this because the author has given it to us with the first two books.

I don’t know. I am just disappointed with the road this series is taking and that makes me sad. This story had such promise to be sticky sweet with a true friends to lovers story and instead, I am left with a bad taste in my mouth.

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