Title: Life on Pause (Love Life Book 1)
Author: Erin McLellan
Publisher: Self published
Release Date: March 23, 2018
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 258 pages
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Read book blurb here
Rusty is a music teacher in a small town in Oklahoma. He's a nice guy and likes being the support system for his sister and beloved niece who also live in town. Driving home one day, he encounters a guy in "suede and fringe and boots and a Western shirt" with a flat tire and stops to help. Part Cheyenne-Arapaho Niles is the Director of Education at the Bushyhead Homestead:
He was too tall, too thin, and too weird. But he was a decent actor, and a good teacher, and he knew his shit. He knew how to tan a hide, and clean a deer, and churn butter, and milk a cow, and make a million different things from buffalo chips. This land was his heritage, for f@ck’s sake.
Rusty becomes intrigued and enamored with skinny, nerdy Niles and oh so slowly and awkwardly (emphasis on awkward), the two men become friends ... then friends-with-benefits ... and then it's an endless roller coaster of a relationship that is undermined by miscommunication, lies, low self-esteem and almost everything in-between.
Niles' sexual experience consists of sex toys and blowjobs in backseats and alleys and he's convinced Rusty is way out of his league. He's forever waiting for the other shoe to drop and Rusty to disappear. Rusty has lied to Niles about his three-year relationship with fellow teacher Todd, and hasn't mentioned that he is planning to leave town in about 8 months to move with his sister and niece.
Poor tender-hearted Niles cries (and okay, whines a lot) while Rusty tends to shut down and become distant and non-communicative. Through the entire middle part of the book, I wanted to slap these two alongside the head and scream USE YOUR WORDS. Sure, there is a lot of sexual chemistry between the two (and quite a few oh-my-gawd-that's-hot scenes), but ... c'mon.
I liked the way MacLean shows us Niles' love for his home and his family (his mother has recently died and his father is in a nursing home, having suffered a stroke and doesn't speak) and how he bears witness for the rich love they shared together. But at the end of the day, the relentless angst and miscommunication was just too much for me.