But My Boyfriend Is

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Title and Link: But My Boyfriend Is
Author: K.A. Mitchell
Cover Artist: Angela Waters
Publisher URL: Samhain Publishing
Amazon Buy Link
Genre: Contemporary M/M, Interracial
Length: Novel/250 pages
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Review Summary: Are you gay if you can’t keep it in your pants when a hot guy makes you burn? Denials don’t make you straight.

BLURB

The most dangerous lies are the ones you tell yourself.

Dylan Williams is not gay. Sometimes he gets off with other guys, but so what? He plans to get married someday—really married, like with a wife and kids. And he’s determined that his future family’s life will be the normal one he and his brothers never had.

Mike Aurietta is gay, but his job keeps him in the closet. He doesn’t usually risk frequenting infamous cruising places like Webber Park. But when he’s cutting through one night, he finds himself defending a victim from gay bashers.

It’s all Dylan can do to process the shock that anyone would want to hurt his quiet twin brother. At first he needs Mike’s eyewitness report to satisfy the gut-wrenching desire for revenge. Then he finds himself needing Mike’s solid, comforting presence…and the heat that unexpectedly flares between them.

In the aftermath, Mike quickly learns not to expect too much from his conflicted lover. Though he never thought his good deed would come back to bite him in the ass. Or that hanging on to the possibility of love could force too many secrets out of the closet—and cost them both everything.

THE REVIEW

But My Boyfriend Is, book no. 4 of the Florida series by K.A. Mitchell, is the story of the life so far of  Dylan Williams. I met Dylan, his eldest brother Aaron and Aaron’s boyfriend Joey in Collision Course which I reviewed in 2008 here.  Dylan is now twenty-two trying to fumble his way through what most people call love, but first he has to admit he’s gay.

Dylan and his identical twin Darryl are often mistaken for each other, which is how Darryl ended up almost beaten to death in Webber Park as he was taking a short cut on his way home; the park was a well known cruising spot for gay men which Dylan frequented. That Darryl wasn’t killed was due to Mike Aurietta being in the park at the time. When Mike witnessed three men punching and kicking Darryl in the head he interceded, fought off his attackers and called 911. Mike and Dylan met in Emergency at the hospital and Dylan was his usual prickly self because he couldn’t fathom why a stranger who was white would put himself in harm’s way to help his brother. I guess he didn’t believe in the milk of human kindness.

Mike is gay and he recognized that Dylan was also gay but he was so far in the closet he couldn’t figure out where the door was. Despite Dylan’s antagonism, a violent and immediate attraction flared up between them which neither man could resist.

Dylan blamed himself for his brother’s life-threatening injuries because the perpetrators mistook Darryl for him. The only person who seemed to empathize was Mike but Dylan claimed he wanted nothing to do with him, except he couldn’t keep his hands off Mike as he continued to tell himself and everyone else who would listen to his refrain that he was not gay. Dylan’s truculence and self loathing were so exhausting I couldn’t understand why Mike continued to see him but I guess he couldn’t resist the attraction either.

Dylan’s life was a series of lows starting with his childhood in a dysfunctional family. His father went to prison for manslaughter and his mother took off when he and his twin were eight years old. They ended up in different foster homes until Aaron was able to get custody, but he and Dylan were always at odds as Aaron blamed him for anything bad that happened to Darryl, Mr. Perfect, who was about to graduate summa cum laude from university while Dylan was in a dead end job at The Cheesecake Factory. I can’t remember Aaron being such an asshole to his brother in Collision Course but he really ripped him a new one in But My Boyfriend Is.

Mike couldn’t get Dylan off his mind although he didn’t try very hard, and they had sex regularly despite Dylan being in denial about his sexual orientation. This is a typical episode between them:

Dylan tilted his hips to meet him, that watchful look back on his face, as if he were waiting for Mike to do something that crossed whatever lines Dylan had set up so he could tell himself he wasn’t gay. Like there was a whole lot of wiggle room on that point when what you were wiggling was your cock against another guy’s. But whatever kind of mess was going on in Dylan’s head, his body was completely into it.

When Dylan found out from Joey that Darryl was considering a research fellowship offer from a university on the other side of the country, mainly it seemed to get away from Dylan, he was devastated; first, because Darryl didn’t have the balls to tell him that he was moving, and second, he didn’t know how he would manage without his twin as they had never been separated other than one week in foster care.

Dylan’s constant refrain of denial that he wasn’t gay got on my last nerve. If you’re cruising a gay park regularly looking for a blow job, or giving one, or having anal sex with men I think it’s fairly obvious that you’re not entirely straight even if you have sex with  women occasionally to prove to yourself and everyone else that you’re heterosexual. It doesn’t matter if you want the nuclear family with a wife, 2.5 children, and the white picket fence, that still doesn’t make you hetero, you’re at least bi.

To summarize: I thought that Darryl was weak and selfish and he treated Dylan like a pariah after the attack. He did everything he could to make Dylan feel terrible about the attack which was partly his own fault since he knew all about the park and took his chances. Joey was a standout as usual.. Tough love was Aaron’s signature, sometimes taken to extremes, until he almost lost Dylan. I liked Mike’s room mates Garrett and Tate and I hope they return in the next book. As for Mike, I thought that he was vulnerable and caring and his personality shone throughout. His tolerance of Dylan’s idiosyncrasies, his ability to give his boyfriend the benefit of the doubt regardless how Dylan’s denials made him feel, and the career sacrifices he was willing to make for Dylan, showed his integrity as well as how much he loved him. Dylan was one of the most complex and flawed characters I have come across in a while but he had a good heart and loved his brother, and when the chips were down he proved that he loved Mike too. He was the odd one out in his family and he felt misunderstood and sometimes unloved with no one to turn to except his sister Sheree and occasionally Darryl whose departure hurt him. His only comfort was Mike so in some ways I can understand his frustrations with life in general.

This was a tough book to rate because although I loved a lot of it, Dylan’s insistence until the bitter end that he wasn’t gay got tired. On page 249 of a 252 page book the refrain was the same, which I thought was ridiculous, particularly since he was moving in with Mike.

The dialogue and prose are vintage K.A. Mitchell and if you love angst you will probably love this book because this author does it well, stopping just short of overwhelming the reader.

Collision Course, the first story in this series where I met Joey, is still my favourite, but Diving in Deep is also excellent. Throughout the series Joey and Aaron make appearances which is K.A’s signature because of Joey’s appeal to fans, and this strategy worked again in But My Boyfriend Is, as his humour provided a light touch in a book that covered a number of serious topics.

Definitely recommended.

27 thoughts on “But My Boyfriend Is

  1. Ethan Stone

    I absolutely loved this one. Darryl’s holier-than-thou attitude annoyed as did Aaron’s sometimes unneeded anger got on my nerves. But Dylan’s insistence of not being gay did not annoy me. Why? Because I’ve known guys like him. It doesn’t matter how many times a guy has sex with a guy, he will still insist he’s straight if that’s how he sees himself. I’ve had sex with guys who afterward insist they are totally straight. I can’t explain it, but it doesn’t mean it’s not realistic. K.A. Mitchell never lets me down and I think she got Dylan’s denial spot on.

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Ethan
      I bought into Dylan’s denial because it’s really easy to lie to yourself, especially for black men who find it harder to admit they are gay. However, when it was the absolute end of the book and he’s moving in with Mike and he says these words “I’m not gay” to Darryl, and Darryl points to Mike and says “Then who was that?” Dylan’s response was “Maybe at the moment” I gave up. I guess if he woke up the next morning hating himself, he could just as easily leave Mike for a woman since his supposed lapse was “momentary.”

      I’m with you about Darryl. After a while I couldn’t stand him and I wished he would just leave already.

  2. jeayci

    I loved Dylan and Mike, and this book as a whole. Darryl pissed me the eff off :curse: with his treatment of Dylan. Aaron, too, though it was less surprising from him. Still, he took it far enough to make me really wanna wallop him (or, better yet, have Mike do so :grin: ).

    I thought the “I’m sorrys” at the end were too little, too late, and then everything got too hunky-dory too quickly. And the last chapter was really an epilogue, which kind of annoyed me. But despite all that, I loved it anyway and am looking forward to the next book! :biglove:

    1. Wave Post author

      Jess
      I started out feeling a lot of empathy for Dylan but he wore me down and got on my last nerve. I loved Mike who I thought was maybe too accommodating to someone who kept kicking him to the curb, even though I understood Dylan’s issues. I can’t remember Aaron being such an asshole but I suppose he must be and Joey has his number.

      I love flawed characters which is why I won’t read any more books by a certain author, but Dylan insisting to the very end when he was moving in with Mike that he wasn’t gay, what was that??

      As for that mealy mouth Darryl, I wanted to kick him where it hurt. Can you tell I didn’t like him. :lol:

  3. Raine

    Great review Wave and I agreed with all you wrote, especially about Darryl, who almost irritated me more than Dylan. I love Joey, such a special character and I liked seeing him through Dylan’s eyes vey much. Aaron is amazing even when wrong and being an arse.I really looked forward to this and it didn’t disappoint me. K A Mitchell writes such interesting characters in her books and they have some of the best sex scenes I’ve read anywhere! :blush:

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Raine
      I love K.A. Mitchell because her characters always make me think and she’s such a wonderful writer. I had to set this book aside and re-read it before I wrote the review because I wanted to smack Dylan and especially Darryl, the little worm.

      You’re right about the sex scenes – they are hot. :blush:

  4. Lisa Sullivan

    I’m in the middle of this book right now, and I have to say I wish Darryl had never woken up. As a twin,myself, I would never treat my sister like Darryl treats Dylan! Jerk! Dylan is no prize, but he’s so obnoxious, I have to keep reading to see how far he will go with it! So Wrong! (K.A. is an evil emotion manipulator!) At this point in my reading, I kind of want Mike to run, not walk, and keep Joey on speed dial!

    1. Wave Post author

      I’m with you Lisa. This book will have readers lining up on both sides of the issue regarding Dylan’s protestations. Ethan is right to a point about some men never wanting to admit to the “g” word, but when you’re moving in with a guy and having sex with him, then what are you? If not gay, at least you’re bi. Straight men have sex with women not other men, no matter what they tell themselves and others.

      As for Darryl, that makes two of us except Dylan would never have recovered if his brother had kicked the bucket. Joey is, as usual, his wonderful self, controlling Aaron the way no one else could.

  5. Linn

    By the end I took Dylan’s refrain of “I’m not gay” as almost more of a sort of in-joke. And he does by the end of the book start to think of himself as bi. I know a couple of people who are bisexual and they definitely do not call themselves gay – it is a very clear distinction. So I wasn’t offended by his “denial” at all.

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Linn

      I’m with you about bi men/women never using the “gay” definition to refer to themselves, but by the end of the book in Dylan’s mind he was still straight, just playing house with Mike. If you were Mike how would that make you feel, especially after you sacrificed a career you loved for Dylan?

  6. Name (required)

    i assumed the end (p. 249) denial from dylan was just him replaying the same old kneejerk record. i honestly didn’t believe him. and he was his weak sauce brother’s worst fear – how hard was that?

    i don’t feel like mike sacrificed himself for dylan – i feel like he did it because of his own sense of integrity.

    thanks to k.a. for a fully fleshed poc character…

    loved this!
    :0)
    -kkm

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi kkm

      I think Dylan’s final denial was what he actually believed which is why he annoyed me so much.

      As for Mike, he has a lot of integrity but I still think that he came forward because of that and also because of Dylan. We’ll never know exactly why he did it only that he did.

  7. Treasure

    I really did like this book despite it’s flaws. Part of the genius of it is that here it is Sunday Morning and we’re all spending time discussing these characters and their motiviations as though they are people we all know. I too took Dylans continual denial by the end of the story as becoming a sort of in joke between he and Mike. I do know guys that deeply in denial, the kind that inspire an eye roll and a deep sigh. Hell I’ve dated a few, so Dylans denial rings true to me. Darryl comes off so badly as a deeply bigited and flawed character I wonder if there isn’t a book in that. It feels in some ways like he’s punishing himself as he separates from his twin and family and moves to an entirely different part of the country to start his new life. And Joey and Aaron. I totally loved my visit with them. I do wish some of the small details of everyday life had been better filled in. Who did Joey and Aaron get to watch their dog while they ran out town after getting the emergency call? I mean it’s 3:00 Am when they get the call? The dog is mentioned several times but never so completly that you know.

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Treasure
      Thanks for commenting and providing your perspective. One of the reasons I love books by K.A. Mitchell is that regardless whether I totally LOVED all of them, they give me a lot of food for thought, because her characters are intrinsically flawed.

      Ethan Stone mentioned that he knew guys who would deny that they were gay (or bi) right after having sex with him, and I do understand their need to lie because it’s tough admitting you’re not like your friends or associates in your workplace, or whatever, no matter who you are.

      However what I couldn’t fathom was that the day Dylan was moving in with Mike (presumably they were going to share a bed) he denied his sexual orientation once again. At that point I just felt like slapping him because I thought that showed disrespect for Mike who I assume regarded him as his life partner.

      You made an interesting point about the dog. :lol: Even though I’m a huge dog lover it didn’t occur to me to wonder what arrangements Aaron and Joey had made to take care of it. You should have been one of K.A’s beta readers. :grin:

      As for Darryl, I hope not to read about him in future books because I’m so completely off him. For such an educated man he turned out to be a stupid and ignorant asshole and bigoted too. There’s nothing like an educated fool.

      I hope you’ll come back to comment on my review of Diving in Deep which I thought I had reviewed when it was released in 2008, but I realized only recently that I never wrote a review. That’s probably one of maybe 2 or 3 books by this author that I haven’t reviewed. She’s one of my faves. It should be coming up next week. :)

      1. Enny

        I thought that sentence at end “Good thing I’m not gay.” was a joke since his next ones “Two guys trying to make a baby? […] Might have to try for a really long time.” clearly is one too.

        That apart I completely agree with your review. Dylan’s denial felt very realistic to me, even though it was hard to read it and not get exasperated with him and Mike was fantastic.

        1. Wave Post author

          Enny

          Maybe Aaron’s personality rubbed off on Dylan to make him so ornery. :grin: Poor Mike – what a job he will have to rehabilitate Dylan. I would like to see them in 5 years with a couple of kids (adopted or through a surrogate of course) :eek: and a dog, to see if Dylan has mellowed. :lol:

  8. Denni

    More great characterizations from K.A. Mitchell (as usual). I really enjoyed this one. My only complaint that it ended too soon (or rather abruptly).

    1. Wave Post author

      Like you said Denni, more great characterizations from K.A. Whether you love the characters in this book or not they sure provide a lot of grist for discussion. :)

  9. Treasure

    Hi Wave I’ll have to read Diving in Deep to go with your review. I’ve never read it despite my love for this author I’m not a big fan of shorter stories, so I skipped that one.

    There is a short prequel to this book on KA Mitchells website, with Joey and Aaron just before the get the call about Darryl. It’s interesting, and I’m hoping there is another chapter in the Joey and Aaron story that’s going to come from it.

    1. Wave Post author

      My Kindle shows 3900 locations which is about novel length. On Amazon the print copy is 208 pages so that seems to be about right.

      Thanks for the tip about the prequel on K.A’s site about Joey and Aaron. I’ll check it out right now. :)

  10. Name (required)

    you know – i want more from the no souvenirs guys!
    i do so love them….
    :0)
    **hint **hint**
    -kkm

  11. Lisa Sullivan

    I want more from the Chasing Smoke guys too!Oh, and the Bad Company guys since we’re throwing wishes out there!

    1. Wave Post author

      I re-read Chasing Smoke over the weekend and I agree. :) The next Bad in Baltimore book is called Bad Attitude and is scheduled for next spring according to K.A.’s website

  12. Lisa Sullivan

    I always re-read those 2 books. Between tortured Trey, and self-righteous Nate, what’s not to love!?

  13. Name (required)

    @ wave, re: jae sun & shane – oh! you know i have – mama ain’t too proud to beg!
    :0)
    -kkm

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