Review: Learning to Love: Evan & Daniel
Title: Learning To Love: Evan and Daniel
Author: KC Wells
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Links: Amazon, Publisher
Genre: m/m contemporary romance
Length: Novel (332 pages)
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Review Summary: This was a good book that had a few issues that kept it from being great; a sweet, heartfelt story of love and friendship.
Caution: Here be (possible) spoilers. It would be hard to explain what worked and what didn’t without revealing some possibly spoiler-y information. Read at your own risk!
Evan Wainwright’s good relationship karma is paying off. After helping his friends, Sean and Michael, discover their sexuality—and each other—Evan meets the love of his life. Their new housemate, Daniel Collier, is everything Evan could want in a boyfriend. Now if Evan can just work out why Daniel panics whenever Evan tries to get close.
Daniel has finally met his soul mate. Evan is perfect for him—at least, he would be, if Daniel could find the courage to overcome his demons and leave the past behind. But his mental scars prove difficult to heal, and Daniel struggles with his heart, even though it tells him Evan is the one.
Life in the student house goes on despite the usual interruptions: a wedding, a trial for a hate crime, a gay couple with exhibitionist tendencies. Through it all, Evan and Daniel remind themselves they are meant to be together. But until Daniel trusts Evan with the secret that’s tearing his family apart, “meant to be” is on hold.
This is the second book in KC Wells’ Learning to Love series, about a group of students living in a house together in Manchester. Two of the housemates, Michael and Sean, fell in love in the first book. Learning to Love: Evan and Daniel starts out with all of the housemates coming together for Michael and Sean’s wedding. Evan is good friends with the couple although they shared a brief sexual encounter in the first book.
Also, at the very end of the first book, a new roommate, Daniel, moves into the house. He and Evan are immediately attracted to each other and have a lot of chemistry. As I said, Evan and Daniel starts off with Michael and Sean’s wedding. Before the wedding, Daniel is home visiting family and Evan is having doubts about their connection because they were separated so soon after becoming boyfriends. Because of this, I had trouble getting into the beginning and feeling the chemistry between Evan and Daniel. While they share some kisses at the “bachelor” party, Daniel seems standoffish and nervous, especially when Even tries to explore the physical side of their relationship. The reader begins to realize that part of this reaction is caused by a secret that Daniel is keeping; the fact that he was sexually abused and raped by his stepfather. The book follows Daniel’s journey of learning to trust others with his secret, coming to terms with what happened, and recovering from it so that he can have a normal and fulfilled life.
What I didn’t like: There is a lot of head-hopping in this book, and because there are so many important characters—Evan, Daniel, Michael, Sean, Josh, Chris, Mark—it almost seems omniscient as we’re bounced from one character’s thoughts to the next. It’s very hard not to head-hop when there are so many characters, but it did happen just a little too much.
The other main issue was time jumping. There were times when it happened that it just confused me. For instance, one time Daniel seemed to have made the definite decision to tell Evan his secret, but the next chapter abruptly cut to a couple of weeks later and he still hadn’t done it. Sure, he changed his mind or got cold feet, but the reader wasn’t quite shown that thought process.
Also, it was obvious that the author wanted to stress the loving relationship between all of the friends/housemates in the house. To a point, it went a bit overkill. There was so much kissing and hugging, and so many baby, sweetie, honeys that I almost lost track of who was who. I just think it’s important for the characters to behave a little differently with the people they are in love with as opposed to the people they are friends with.
What I did like: I liked the loving relationship between all of the friends. Did I just contradict myself? Not quite. My objection above was just to the overdoing of the description of it. I did like seeing the characters from the previous book, and the fact that they formed their own little family and support system. And it made me chuckle seeing how they were all just a little bit attracted to each other.
I liked the fact that Evan didn’t just snap his fingers and get Daniel to have sex with him. Daniel had deep issues to get over that made an insta-love situation impossible. Their relationship developed slowly as Daniel healed from his abuse. This made it more believable when the two of them were finally able to have a physical relationship. I was pleased that the author chose to have Daniel going to therapy, rather than having Evan “make it all better” for him. As someone who’s dealt with psychological issues, I can say that that part of the story was very well done.
The main plot of Daniel coming to terms with his abuse and having to tell Evan, and deciding to prosecute his stepfather because he was abusing his younger brother as well, was very intriguing. It kept me wondering what would happen next. Plus, the ongoing sub-plot of the trial against Michael’s attackers from the first book was another page turner, and it brought in a new character, Chris, whom I loved.
Once Daniel felt comfortable enough to have a physical relationship with Evan, the sex scenes were hot! Evan wasn’t very experienced either, so they were both figuring it out together. It was fun reading about Daniel experiencing everything for the first time—and Evan had some firsts too.
Overall, I would recommend this book, especially if you read and liked the first one. It did hold my attention and keep me up late reading longer than I should have been! If you don’t read the first one, you’ll probably still enjoy it, but may be a bit confused for the first few chapters, especially about Michael’s trial. But they are both worth the read. I’ll definitely pick up the next book in the series as well!