DUELING REVIEWS: Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall

Author: Alex Whitehall
Book: Hard Truths
Page/Word Count: 248, 65K words
Categories: Gay Romance, Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 1, 2018
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
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Buy Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall on AmazonHe can’t have the family he wants, but he may get the love he deserves….

Isaac didn’t expect to find love at his family’s Christmas dinner, but that was before he met his sister’s new fake boyfriend. Tall, muscular, and tattooed, Logan is what Isaac would love in a partner — and also everything his parents would hate in one. Not that they know Isaac’s gay.

That doesn’t stop him from dating Logan — unbeknownst to his parents, and with his sister’s approval after she fake dumps him. The pair dive into a whirlwind romance of motorcycle rides, cheesy puns, and hot sex. They meet each other’s friends and fill their time with happiness and laughter. It’s all perfect.

Until Isaac suggests they move in together, and Logan asks Isaac to come out to his parents. Isaac wants to, but he’s scared; he doesn’t want to lose his family. Unfortunately, he can’t see that his real family has been right beside him all along.

4✨s – Alex Whitehall is a new-to-me author and I was impressed with this story. I love a book that challenges me to think past my own preconceived notions of how characters “ought” to act. With a character driven plot, the protagonists become authentic, demonstrating human foibles and frailties. The opening of the story sets the background when Logan poses as Sue’s boyfriend at Christmas with her and Issac’s family. The parents are stereotypes, the mother nagging her children for grandchildren, obsequiously following and defending the father. He’s nearly a caricature of a working-class man’s man, narrow-minded, homophobic and bigoted. Yet Isaac is still fearful of losing them and their parental love, to the point of suppressing his opinions and hiding his sexuality. Dating Alex eventually forces the issue with rather disastrous results.

The story is entirely in Isaac’s POV but Logan’s characterization came through well, as did those of Isaac’s friends. Logan’s circle of friends are less defined but Isaac’s reactions to them offer insight to the insecurities behind his later thoughts and actions. With Logan and his friends Isaac comes across as the funny guy, spouting cheesy puns and appearing quite easy going. In his thoughts, he’s rather distrustful, almost paranoid about the true feelings and intentions of people around him. Logan is more empathetic in many ways but how he handled Isaac’s later fears of coming out gave a bad impression. There is a crisis of misunderstandings that I don’t always enjoy seeing but in this case, it resonates because the characters and circumstances warrant it. The romantic element is not overtaken by drama though and they are a strongly connected couple. All the best parts of a developing relationship get more than enough page time, offer good feelings and sexy scenes are balanced well.

I had to keep perspective when my knee-jerk reaction to Logan and Isaac’s responses to conflicts was to dislike them or be angry. It would have been easy to dismiss them and the plot as simply unlikable but then I considered earlier revelations and recognized bits of myself and my own life. Isaac’s doubts and misgivings appeared kind of justifiable in light of his family. Living with fear for so long that people supposed to love you can’t be trusted for support, how confident are you going to be about anyone? Isaac and Logan behave realistically, humanly, not idealized or sanitized to wrap things up with an easy fix. The efforts put into mending differences made the happy ending more believable. While it really isn’t a heavy read, it’s not one to take too lightly either, in my opinion. I’m quite pleased to recommend this one. #NetGalley #HardTruths

4✨s – This is my first read from Alex Whitehall and I will absolutely be coming back for more. Hard Truths introduces us to Isaac, a gay man who is not out to his parents, and Logan, the man who showed up as Isaac’s sister’s fake boyfriend for Christmas at their parents. Even more unexpected than Logan’s arrival is the spark and connection that is instant for both men. Upon meeting up once back home, the two men grow closer quickly and have more in common than initially believed. However, Isaac’s secret from his parents starts to come between them as their relationship progresses. I really enjoyed this story about Isaac and Logan. Both MC’s draw us in, have their own insecurities but have worked to become strong, independent men. The physical descriptions definitely enhance the enjoyment as you imagine these two men coming together. Whilst there are many serious moments for the two men and with the people around them, they know how to laugh together as well, bringing a smile to your face as you’re reading their story. The thing coming between the two is a struggle for Isaac as to him, family is blood and he doesn’t want to lose his parents when he comes out to them. Maybe he needs to learn that you can choose you’re family in those around you. We have quite a few different secondary characters enhancing the story and helping our MC in growing and moving forward, though not all are good experiences. Isaac’s sister plays a vital role in his life and is very important to the story and the guy’s relationship, there for Isaac when he needs her most. The pacing of the story works really well. We don’t spend time on every single moment of the blossoming relationship but take time at the important ones. Alex’s writing draws you into Isaac’s life and carries you right along with him as he’s experiencing this relationship with Logan and every bump along the way. I definitely recommend this book. Not necessarily a coming of age book as the men are slightly older but coming out to parents is a big deal and Isaac’s is one he won’t ever forget. I received an ARC from NetGalley and am happily giving a review.

About Alex Whitehall:
If there are two types of people in the world, Alex Whitehall probably isn’t one of them, despite being a person. Their favorite pastimes include reading, horseback riding, sleeping, watching geek-tastic television, knitting, eating, and running. And wasting time on the internet. And spending glorious evenings laughing with friends.

While Alex prefers sleeping over doing anything else (except maybe eating), sometimes they emerge from the cave to be social and to hunt for food at the local market. They can be found blogging, reading, and tending after their aloe plants.

Where to find Alex Whitehall:

Alex Whitehall Amazon Author Page Alex Whitehall on Goodreads Alex Whitehall on Tumblr Alex Whitehall on Twitter Alex Whitehall Website
Buy Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall on Amazon

Hard Truths by Alex WhitehallCommenting below will give you a chance to win this mug:

This mug appears in Hard Truths as one of the first presents that Isaac buys Logan. It’s similar to a mug I have myself (that my friend bought me and that might have inspired the gift)! The order will be shipped directly from the buyer, so you have to be willing to share your physical address with the buyer and myself. You can choose either size and any of the fox images.

Due to prohibitive shipping costs, this prize is only open to within the US. For international readers, indicate as such and you’ll have a chance to win a digital copy of your choice from my backlist.

Contest closes October 6. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave a means of contact!

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