Exposure, Aly Hayden

I was really excited about this book.  I was so hopeful for these men, the premise, and overcoming misunderstandings and untruths.  The reality, however, wasn't as awesome as I hoped.  Overall, though, the book was enjoyable.  It had feels, groveling, family, quirkiness, passion, and confessions.  All the makings of a delightful read.

So why did it not meet my expectations?  It was small things, really, and not even enough to base a full rant on.  I can honestly understand the hurt caused by lies.  I know that Sam was wrong to say what he did, but I never doubted his heart.  I feel like Ben was blind to that heart because of a dick for an ex.  Yes, that's absolutely valid.  But did it excuse Ben from making an awkward and hurtful situation worse?  No.  I'm not a fan of how he reacted.  Sam knew what he did was wrong and knew he only made things worse by not coming clean early on, but who could blame him?  He was constantly made to feel less-than by his parents and wanted to make them at least a little proud of him since his lifestyle wasn't something they understood or approved of.  They might have meant well, but the way they went about things was upsetting to say the least.  He padded the boyfriend brief because he wanted them to be satisfied and also to pave the way for them to like the not-so fictional boyfriend.  Those intentions were a bit cowardly but also honest from a hurt little boy's perspective.  It doesn't make it right, but it does make it understandable and not a little sad.

Why couldn't Ben look beyond that to see what Sam's intentions were, to see the truth beyond the words said to parents long before the weekend ever came around?  Ben was pig-headed and frustrating because he hurt Sam worse than the lie could have hurt Ben.  He also got so many people on his side to hurt Sam even further.  A place that was a home, a haven for Sam became a place of derision and insults.  He deserved some of what he got, but not everything they dished out on him.

The way that Sam groveled was really the best.  He was honest and his words were heartfelt.  There was no way to misunderstand his apology and he really tried his best.  That best was pretty much trampled on by Ben and Peter, but his heart was so visible, so vulnerable.  He eventually got his point across, though, and Ben's acceptance, though grudging at the start, was complete and open by the end.

These two men came from very, very different backgrounds and have a hard road ahead when they have to deal with those differences but their determination to make things work is commendable.  I have great hopes for them because I know how much they want each other, that they are also committed to being honest.  It helps that Sam's family is warmer to Ben and Sam after all the frustration that was caused by Sam's exaggeration of circumstances.  I'm also glad that Sam had people like his grandma and his brother-in-law on his side to love him, accept him, and to give him the kick he needs to be better.  Everyone needs support like that and as Ben and Sam make their way together that support will continue and help them grow into what they have every potential to become.

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