Ezi & Mika Dual Review: Block and Strike by Kelly Jensen

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Block and Strike: by Kelly Jensen
Release Date: January 6, 2017
Pages: 266 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
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Jacob Kendricks is three months out of prison, estranged from his daughter, and ready to get his life on track. Taking care of the bum curled up on his doorstep isn’t part of the plan. When he realizes the man has been assaulted, Jake takes him to the hospital, where he learns that Max is his downstairs neighbor… and that he could really use a friend. Keeping Max in the friend-zone would be easier if he wasn’t so damned cute.

Maxwell Wilson has been bullied for years, and the only person who ever cared lives too far away to come to his rescue. Now his upstairs neighbor is offering support. Max remains cautious, suspecting he is little more than a project for the handsome Jake. When he learns Jake has had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, Max has to reevaluate his priorities—and muster the courage to take a chance at love.

Just when a happy future is within their grasp, life knocks them back down. A devastating blow leaves Max lower than ever and Jake wrestling with regret. They both have to find the strength to stand on their own before they can stand together.

four-stars

It’s rare for Ezi and I to want to read the same book. We have completely different taste on books. She wants the angst, and I want to kick it for a punt return. Hell we wanted this book for different reasons. Ezi immediately stated that the blurb was angsty, I wanted it for the child mentioned and the hurt comfort it seemed to be throwing out there. He’s our first dual review ever on Oh My Shelves. Hope you guys enjoys it.

Ezi’s Review

I liked this story because this is a love story that the author took time to develop. This story was well written and the main characters were constructed methodically.

Jacob “Jake” Kendricks was a man who let his temper get the best of him at times, which resulted in a stint in prison. When he was released, Jake resolved to lay low and piece his life back together starting with rebuilding his relationship with his nine-year-old daughter Caroline.

Jake finds his neighbor Gareth Maxwell “Max” Wilson on the steps of their apartment building, beaten to a pulp. After Jake takes Max to the hospital, Jake’s kind heart makes him take pity on a young bullied guy. A sweet friendship developed ensued and later blossomed into love for Jake and Max.

This story was not a fast insta-love type of romance. It was a layered story where the author took her time to build up the characters. I felt invested in both Jake and Max as individual struggling with their various issues as well as their budding romance which was wrought with trust issues. Both characters had to learn to depend on the other as well as heal their own hearts from past hurts.

I haven’t read this author before, but I enjoyed the story-telling. I empathized with all the characters and couldn’t help but root for them. My only issue was the slow pace of the story. I understand it was necessary to really focus on individual struggles of both Jake and Max, but I was hoping for the romance to get underway a lot faster. It also took a while for the author to reveal why Jake spent in prison and I got impatient. Still, at the end I was left very satisfied with the ending. Jake and Max healing each other made everything worth it.

Mika’s Review

Talk about a slow burner! Goodness, my add wasn’t going to allow me to participate any longer if things didn’t happen at the correct time. It’s my third book by Kelly Jensen, and I really love how relatable and realistic her stories make me feel. This book was no different. Jake & Max are two individuals who needed a Win in life. They both have struggled with various issues that has happened to them.

I really adored Jake’s character. I loved how he wanted to protective Max, teach Max, and love Max in a way that he hasn’t been yet. Jake struggles seems minuscule compared to everything Max goes through in this story, but Jake has a way to go. He has to deal with his actions that lead him to prison. In the blink of an eye his life change, and the person who suffered the most was Caroline his daughter. I think Max is good for Jake because being with him teaches Jake patience, and makes Jake want to keep his temper in check.

Max, oh max. Goodness, he pulled at my heart strings continuously. I am so surprised that I didn’t cry. I didn’t shed not one tear, but I really empathized with his character. Max didn’t have any hope for his future. He seems so despondent about life, and yeah life has completed effed him over. No parents to love him, no family to cherish him, and he’s only 22 but seems so much older. I am uber grateful for Jake. Yeah, Jake’s issues is what caused Max pain unbeknownst to both guys, but it also allowed Max to see what real love is. Jake’s love, teaches, friendship and family allowed Max to open up and be confident. It allowed Max a glimpse of a future that is obtainable if he wanted it.

This redemption story on both parts was equally good. It’s a slow burner for sure. The romance is in the background and while it plays a major role, I’d like to think both guys have healing and growing to do separately and together was more important. I will tell you from the books I’ve read by Jensen, that I’ve come to really appreciate her take on the realistic fiction trope in Gay Romance. I love how relatable and normal they are. These are everyday people in her stories, they could be your spouses, brothers, fathers, uncles, and cousins. This is a definite recommend for me. I really liked it!

About Kelly Jensen

If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.

Born in Australia and raised everywhere else, Kelly now lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter and herd of four cats. After disproving the theory that water only spins counter-clockwise around drains north of the equator, she turned her attention to more productive pursuits such as reading, writing, writing about reading and writing stories of her own. She also enjoys volunteering at her local library, playing video games and holds a brown belt in Kiryoku, a martial art combining Shotokan, Aikido and Tang Soo Do. Her family is not intimidated by her.

Kelly is the author of a number of novels, short stories, and this bio. She does not consider this bio a seminal work. Her books are much more interesting (and definitely sexier). You can view a list of them here. She has been writing reviews of books and video games for web and print magazines for nearly fifteen years. Her book reviews can be found at SFCrowsnest, Goodreads and here, on her blog.

Currently, she is working on several projects, including a science fiction romance series co-authored with her best friend and writing partner, Jenn Burke. The first three books of the Chaos Station series are available now, with the fourth due in January 2016 from Carina Press.