Monday, November 23, 2015

Book Review: M/M ~ Real World (Bend or Break #5) by Amy Jo Cousins ~ (Review, Character Interview + Excerpt)

Book Review: M/M ~ Real World (Bend or Break #5) by Amy Jo Cousins ~ (Review, Character Interview + Excerpt) 

Author: Amy Jo Cousins
Book: Real World
Series: Bend or Break #5
Release date: November 17, 2015
Pages: 142

Buy The Book:


Five years ago, Tom Worthington busted his ass to overcome the fear and paranoia that led him to withdraw from the world and nearly lose his boyfriend. He never thought he’d find himself right back there, shutting Reese out, keeping secrets again.

Reese Anders is ready to try anything to get Tom to talk: if he can’t seduce his boyfriend with food, he’ll get Tom to open up in bed. But even Tom’s confession that his dad is getting out of prison soon doesn’t clear the air between them. And as the holidays approach, intensive mentoring from a new British boss creates more distractions, until Reese is keeping secrets of his own.

At a company Christmas party, it only takes Tom one look at Reese’s new boss to figure out how much danger their relationship is in. But he’s not about to let the connection that started all those years ago at Carlisle come to an end. It’s time to deal with their problems like adults. Face to face. Or back to front. Starting in the bedroom.

Warning: This book contains two adorable guys with way too many secrets, conciliatory rigatoni, a bedroom lesson on the power of multitasking, and indisputable evidence on what makes the perfect holiday HEA.


In the hours he’d been at home, Tom had questioned himself like an interrogator. Was it possible he’d done something wrong? He knew he hadn’t intended to steal anything, but maybe he’d accidentally mismanaged one of their accounts, or assigned a credit to the wrong cost center.
Don’t be ridiculous. You’re inventing scenarios that can’t happen, or would have been noticed before now.
What if he had accidentally misappropriated funds? Who would believe the son of a convicted financial criminal?
With Reese’s hand on his forehead, the weight of him depressing the mattress at Tom’s hip, he could almost see how crazy his thoughts had gotten.
Because even knowing that his brain was running in circles like a mouse on crank, gnawing on his own bones, he couldn’t admit out loud what it was he’d done.
What you’re afraid people will think you’ve done. You didn’t do anything.
“Want some soup? Or some Tylenol?” Reese rubbed his back and his voice was low and soothing. “What can I do for you?”
Tell me everything is going to be okay. Tell me you know I’m not in trouble, that they’ll believe me when I tell them I didn’t have anything to do with any money that can’t be accounted for.
“Nothing.” He had to repeat the word when his voice broke. “Nothing. Thanks.”
Then he rolled over to face the wall, and stayed that way until he heard Reese sigh, get up and leave the room.
I’m sick. It’s not like I’m shutting him out. I’m coming down with something and there isn’t anything he can do about it anyway, so I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m not.
There were too many voices in his head, but even in the middle of the cacophony of blame and defensiveness and fear, Tom could tell which ones were spouting bullshit.
When Reese next came back to check on him, Tom grabbed his wrist and held on to it so tightly the skin under his fingertips turned white. Instead of complaining, Reese twisted his hand around to grip Tom’s wrist too, holding just as tight until Tom could breathe again.
His chest rose and fell with juddering breaths and his voice cracked when he spoke.
He couldn’t tell Reese about what had happened at work that morning. He just couldn’t. But if he didn’t tell Reese something, bring him into this twisted vortex of whirling black thoughts, Tom wasn’t sure where that left him, except far outside the safe place he’d found in their relationship.
Reese needed more from him than secrecy and withdrawal. So he opened up the vein of anxiety he’d nearly forgotten about, which was a fucking small blessing from this shit situation, and let it bleed out all over Reese.
“Will you go with me? To see him?” He didn’t have to specify what him. Reese had been waiting and waiting, like a cat outside a mousehole who knew the mouse had to come out to eat eventually or starve to death, for Tom to bring up his father and his request for a visit again.
Before he said a word, Reese was clambering onto the bed and pushing Tom over to make room for Reese to squeeze in next to him.
“Yeah, baby. Of course I will. You just tell me when.” And Reese snuggled up behind him, pressing tight to Tom’s back and wrapping an arm across his chest, which was maybe the only thing keeping him from flying off the planet right now.
“Not tomorrow. I’m sick. But soon.”
“You just tell me when,” Reese repeated, and Tom let himself close his eyes.
A half step. And maybe if he could make it through that, he’d find himself a way back. One fucking half step at a time.

Tracy's Review:

5 Stars

*copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This book takes place 5 years after Tom and Reese first meet in Off Campus. Tom and Reese have both graduated from Carlisle and are out in the working world. Tom is also in a graduate program, along with working. Tom still has an issue with sharing his problems with Reese. He'd rather deal with it himself rather than cause Reese worry. This doesn't work for Reese and causes tension in their relationship.

This was a great continuation of Tom and Reese's story. It was great to get to visit them again. I loved Tom and Reese just as much in this story as I did in the first book. Amy manages to recapture the chemistry and love between them. This was a well written and well paced book. This story was sweet, sexy, funny and angsty, and it ends perfectly!
It was great to see Steph and Cash and get a glimpse of Denny and Rafie, as well. (I know they weren't really friends, but I was really sad to see Jack and Miguel missing, maybe they'll get the next novella. Hint hint, Amy)

If you love Tom and Reese you won't want to miss this story!!

Character Interview:

Today I'm happy to welcome Tom and Reese, from Real World (Bend or Break #5) by Amy Jo Cousins, to Bayou Book Junkie!

Gentlemen, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview. It's a pleasure to have y'all here! Tell us a little about yourselves!

Reese: Thank you for having us! 

1) What has been the greatest challenge in your relationship?

Tom: Me.
Reese: *rolls eyes* What did we just talk about?
Tom: *reciting* Making it right is more important than who's wrong. I know, but--
Reese: No buts. *snorts* I mean, definitely butts, but no buts.
Tom: So, I can say...our communicating with each other is the biggest challenge.
Reese: Yes, definitely. But that's just because we're human beings, and human beings suck as communicating as, like a species. I don't think there's ever been a couple in all of history that hasn't sucked at communicating sometimes.
Tom: *whispers* Basically, it's me. I'm working on it.

2) What was the hardest thing for you to overcome that you didn’t expect to be an issue?

Reese: Ooh, good question.
Tom: I don't know. Was anything unexpected? I mean, we lived together at school, so he already knew I'm kind of a slob. I mean, I'm way better now, because I know it makes him crazy when I leave clothes all over the place. So I've definitely changed that.
Reese: Yeah, but that's it, isn't it? Because we got to a point where we had it down in college. We were used to living together in one room without making each other crazy. So I think we thought living together in an apartment was going to be a cakewalk after that. But it totally wasn't. And our one-room system did not translate to a larger place.
Tom: Yeah, that's true. We had to relearn all over again how to combine my more laid back cleaning style--*ignores Reese's snort*--with his slightly more uptight ideas.
Reese: I think by 'uptight' you mean 'we can invite friends over without having to get laundry off the couch first.'
Tom: This is true. I like that part.

3) What are your favorite qualities about your partner?

Reese: *pauses* Tom works so hard. At everything. There's nothing in his life he doesn't work hard at, more than anyone I've ever known. And when he turns that focus on you? On me, I mean. It's intense and reassuring and incredibly sexy. The thought he puts into things, especially intimate things that I will do us all a favor by not detailing here, is just... I've never known anything like it.
Tom: Reese gets along with absolutely everyone. I mean, I guess I like people, mostly, but if I'm in a crowd, I'd be happy talking to three people I know and ignoring everyone else. Reese? Can go to the bathroom and come out with a new best friend five minutes later.
Reese: *laughing* Yeah, that sounds wrong. Really wrong.
Tom: Oh my god. I just meant that you can talk to people and make friends in weird places. I didn't mean--
Reese: *grinning* Let's just move on.

4) Where is the naughtiest place y'all have had sex? 

Tom: *blushing* I don'
Reese: In Tom's car back when he was still gypsy cabbing it. I used to call him and talk dirty to him until he couldn't take it anymore. God, my fantasies about him, all hot for me in that car. You wouldn't believe what I imagined. So of course I totally blew him in between customers when I talked him into letting me ride along one night.
Tom: I thought we were going to get arrested. God, I can't believe you just told them that.
Reese: Tell the truth. You want to take me to the car and blow me right now.
Tom: *turns pinker* No comment.

5) What do you value most in your friends?

Reese: Their complete and utter lack of boundaries.
Tom: Shut up!
Reese: Oh, please. You know you love it when we end up talking about the dirtiest stuff ever with them.
Tom: With our best friends, Cash and Steph, yes. With everyone else, we try to keep it PG-13 at least.
Reese: *pffft noise* Try, yes. Succeed, no.
*laughter from both*
Tom: He's right though. I love that there isn't anything we can't talk about with our friends. And that goes from the dirty stuff to all of the fucked up emotional stuff you don't want to admit to anyone, because there's no way you want people to see what a mess you really our.
Reese: Our friends know we're messes and they love us anyone. Because they're awesome.

6) What is your favorite song?

Tom: Oh, god. Don't get him started.
Reese: Pentatonix! Oh my god, their Christmas album is awesome. Their "Carol of the Bells" is awesome, and their version of "Say Something" totally made me cry.
Tom: You would not believe how much time I've spent listening to someone speculate about whether or not Mitch and Scott hooked up in high school.
Reese: You know they totally did.
Tom: Please explain to him that these are real people and he should not ship them?
Reese: Yeah, well, what's your favorite song? Wait, let me guess. Something ancient.
Tom: The Rolling Stones aren't ancient. They're classic. "You Can't Always Get What You Want," probably.
Reese: *singing* "But if you try sometime, you find you get what you need." Yeah, that's a good one. Okay, that's allowed.

7) What's your partner's sexiest feature?

Tom: His heart. And his patience. You know how kids are supposed to grow up with that rock solid knowing they're loved? Like, that's a parent's job, right? Not everyone gets that. And it can mess you up, not knowing what it's like to feel that sure of someone, ever. So, you know, that's the sexiest thing ever about Reese: how he loves me.
Reese: Well, shit. Now you've made me fucking cry, and if I say "his ass," I'm gonna look like a jerk.
Tom: *smugly* You can totally say my ass.
Reese: His ass is pretty goddamn amazing. And he has a smile that's just for me. That's probably my favorite thing.

Thank you guys so much for being here today. This was loads of fun!! <3

Tom: Thanks for having us. That's wasn't as excruciating as I thought it was going to be.
Reese: He means it was totally awesome and I'm definitely getting some in the car on the way home tonight. Thank you!

The Series: Bend or Break

Buy at Amazon:

About Amy
To get updates on Amy Jo's new releases, sign up for her newsletter at

Amy Jo Cousins lives in Chicago, where she writes contemporary romance, tweets more than she ought, and sometimes runs way too far. She loves her boy and the Cubs, who taught her that being awesome doesn't necessarily have anything to do with winning.

Finding Amy Around the web:
Twitter: @_AJCousins

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