Title: Between a Rock and a Hard Place – Bend or Break #6-#7

Author: Amy Jo Cousins

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Melinda

This is a duology that includes both #6 and #7 in the Bend or Break series, or you can buy them separately if you’re so inclined. I prefer the cover on this one and Cousins always has the best covers! Either individually or together these books get an easy 5 stars, but that’s really not surprising since I’m kind of a fangirl for this whole series.

These two stories focus on Austin and Vincent friends that have had a friends with benefit relationship going on for a while. Austin has wanted more and Vincent has been pretty closed off with his time and emotions. I was worried about both cheating as well as the possibility of a love triangle in these books which I am not a big fan of. Thankfully right from the beginning of Austin’s story it’s pretty apparent that’s not going to be the case. Which was a relief for me as that is just not my catnip.

Austin’s relationship with Sean was fun to watch evolve and see Austin get pushed out of his comfort zone in a few ways. Something that Cousins does really well in all of her books is camaraderie. She has this here obviously with the rowing team, but also with Sean’s camping friends. There is a strain to the friendship in this one due to the issue between Vincent and Austin and I found it fascinating to see Austin get to explore a relationship with someone who values him.

While I really liked both books Vincent’s book was the more interesting one to me purely because of the gender dynamics going on. Vincent finds himself drawn to an effeminate gay man named Bryan even though Vincent himself is more subdued and not willing to draw attention to himself. Vincent comes from a family that expects him to be quiet about being gay and is used to being conservative and quiet while Bryan is outspoken and loud about being gay.

I loved everything about this book. There was so much emotion and heart in this one. Both men have so much going on. Watching Vincent allow himself to slowly fall for Bryan more and more even while being surprised by it since he can’t imagine being with someone like him long term was really emotional. But at the same time Bryan had to allow himself to fall for Vincent as Bryan’s been bullied his whole like and kept in the closet by other men who did not want to acknowledge him publicly. Vincent stumbled and fell a few times trying to get things right with Bryan but when he gets it right, I wanted to jump up and down.

Whenever I get asked about m/m recs I always rec this series because it’s just SO good!!


ARC provided via Netgalley in return for an honest review.