Books · Contemporary · diverse characters · MM romance · own voices author · sexually explicit

REVIEW: Just Like This by Cole McCade

The Official Description: Rian Falwell has a problem.

And his name is Damon Louis.

Rian’s life as the art teacher to a gaggle of displaced boys at Albin Academy should be smooth sailing—until the stubborn, grouchy football coach comes into his world like a lightning strike and ignites a heated conflict that would leave them sworn enemies if not for a common goal.

A student in peril. A troubling secret. And two men who are polar opposites but must work together to protect their charges.

They shouldn’t want each other. They shouldn’t even like each other.

Yet as they fight to save a young man from the edge, they discover more than they thought possible about each other—and about themselves.

In the space between hatred, they find love.

And the lives they have always wanted…

Just like this.

Just the facts: Very emotional, m/m romance, found family, self-discovery

A couple of teachers fighting for a lost student with so much heart you won’t want to put the book down. Oh yeah – and they’re fighting for each other too 🙂 – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit: “Just Like This” by Cole McCade is the second book in the Albin Academy series. This series is so well-written that it’s an absolute joy to read. I find myself hoping that the author is going to continue this series for a while!

In this second installment, Rian Falwell is an art instructor at Albin Academy. He is minding his own business one day when Damon Louis, the school coach comes to find him. It turns out that Rian and Damon have a student in common and that student  – Christopher Northcote – has been lying to both of them.

Rather than just ignoring the issue, Rian and Damon try to work together to figure out what is going on for Chris. He seems on the surface to be a good guy, a good student… he has friends and a roommate who likes him. But he’s lying about where he is going and looking exhausted.

As Rian and Damon attempt to work together to solve the mystery of their mutual student, they begin to realize that they have a distinct push and pull with one another. These two are like magnets… get the right poles aligned and things spark to life but if the wrong poles are aligned they seem to be able to hurt one another without even trying.

The battle that these two instructors are going through to try and redeem their student mirrors the battles they are having within themselves. Damon is “looking for home”. McCade touches on the issues that can come with being an adopted child and does so with an empathetic hand. Damon is indigenous but knows nothing about his parents or the nation that he descends from. This leaves him in a strange world of “not knowing” and feeling disconnected from his heritage. It’s clear that McCade’s own experience is woven into that of Damon’s as it’s very heartfelt.

On the other hand, Rian is from a wealthy family. His art has been promoted and shown in galleries and he has never wanted for anything. Well, he has wanted for a feeling of “worth” that doesn’t come from simply having a well-padded bank account. When Rian took his job teaching art he basically cut himself off from his family and is attempting to create a life that he is able to support simply by working. The fact that his family name and wealth eased his path into the art world has left him wondering if he is even talented at all.

I don’t think I’ve read anything before that manages so succinctly to capture the way that two people can be drawn together yet still have friction between them. McCade is such a poetic writer that his prose is the most descriptive. There are times when I re-read descriptions just because they “feel” beautiful.

McCade’s Albin Academy is a school filled with diverse characters and I feel as though I’m going to enjoy every novel that is set in this world. I loved the fact that there were some subtle updates in this second installment about Fox and Summer who headed up the cast of the first novel.

Looking forward to more!

Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) physical violence, altercation, description of bruising on student’s body, angst, a character is adopted, adopted character is disconnected from parents and culture

Links: Goodreads // The Author // The Publisher

I received an ARC of Just Like This by Cole McCade from Carina via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

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