Hello, lovelies! 🌱 I’m back with another male romance, I know, I know. Like always, I would like to mention that I do not only read this genre but this genre is so easy to love and the books you find with male romance is so good I HAVE to read them ❤
Under My Skin by Christina Lee is a series I’ve been reading for two years now. I first read book # 1 Regret in 2017 and since then the series has been one of my favorites. While I loved book one and two, book three was a bit of a let down for me but oh my god, book 4 win overalls. Villains having their happy ever after, I swoon with this plot.
This series must be read in order since all characters know each other and are visible in every book – plus, the people you read in these stories are lovely.
Successful financial analyst Michael Walsh leads a picture-perfect life that anyone would envy—unless they caught a glimpse beneath the surface. Haunted by failed relationships and self-doubt, Michael harbors a soul-deep loneliness that no number of casual hookups can fulfill. So why can’t he stop thinking about his New Year’s fling with a man whose quiet desperation matched his own?Synopsis from Goodreads
Barista Stewart Jenkins has an abysmal track record with relationships, and no matter how hard he tries to keep things tightly under wraps, his life is spinning out of control. His hookup with the gorgeous Michael was only supposed to be sex—hot, dirty, uncomplicated—but that small taste leaves him yearning for more.
Every no-strings encounter that follows between Michael and Stewart peels away more layers, blurring the lines, until they’re left with a raw tenderness and acceptance they both crave. A relationship seems out of the question—they come from drastically different lives and are plagued by inexcusable sins. Being vulnerable is sure to reveal old wounds, and forgiveness seems out of reach, unless they can find a way around their fears on the road to redemption.
What I absolutely loved;
- Stewart: he was such a jackass during the previous books. Clingy, jealous, almost abusive in a way and controlling of Ethan – overall, an ass. But, the Stewart we meet here is shy, afraid, living in a world where he feels he will always be left alone and unloved. Stewart doesn’t want to let people in, doesn’t want to explain the fact he’s an asshole is not because he wants to but because he’s sick – suffering from panic attacks, of a hard childhood and lonely upbringings. He tries not to be an ass but is a defense mechanism that he can’t seem to let go or understand how to tone down.
- Michael is equally an asshole, overwhelming and a worrier. He used to ‘love’ West in his own way – in silence, ashamed of how people would look at him if they knew he was with a younger man and pushy. He wanted West to do things his way not West’s way. He wanted to control West, hide him and at the same time smother him with worry and constant supervision. What Michael learns once West moves on is to not show off the fact he’s rich just to impress others, of giving people their spaces when they need it, of not overstepping other’s toes. But mostly, he learns to change his views and accept he is not perfect, to understand that expectations do not always need to be met.
“Eh, villains are pretty misunderstood,” he said with a wave of his hand. “Really, they’re just underdeveloped antiheroes.”15% of the book
- Stewart and Michael’s first meet is hot – like extremely so. I would like to describe how sexy it is but I don’t want to give too much away. Just know that is there where Stewart let’s Michael in control and something changes.
Never had I craved another human being the way I did him.73% of the book
- This book includes sex, like a humongous amount of sex – but every scene reveals something within their relationship that starts as friends with benefits. Like how sometimes sitting on a couch chilling and eating can lead to the discovery of a secret, how laying in bed together can show a sense of belonging and love.
- Stewart’s job is also a great point in this book. He’s a barista who manages a new shop close to Michael’s work. His coworkers are scared of him because Stewart is a no-bullshit kind of person. Is during these moments in the cafe where we learn how small meetings can make a change – and how their relationship evolves.
- Michael’s flaws are many – he doesn’t like to feel inferior, has been in his father’s shadow for too long, feels the overwhelming pressure to be better than others. He has no friends, none of his coworkers seem close to him and even his secretary sometimes can’t hide her not too positive emotions towards him. But, during the book Michael finds a slow friendship with James who is also in a relationship with a man and tries to never push Michael too much but instead, guides him to be more accepting of himself and the rest.
- We get to see Stewart’s acceptance of himself – of his wanting to change for the better and recognizing his problems. He is ashamed of himself but tries to be better by not closing himself too much – even if its takes a lot from him.
- His therapist also helps him, when Stewart opens up about his relationship with Michael he learns that he didn’t push, he had a healthy relationship where he didn’t pressure and ultimately, he let him go.
- The dogs were also a cute addition to the story. If you read the books you will see a dog theme that continues in this book. Michael loves his dogs, Coco and Chloe – so much he is their special person. The relationship of Michael with his dogs – providing attention and love to them is something I enjoyed. Is a side that is not too obvious even when in other books he is introduced as a dog lover – but here, you can actually see these dogs are part of his life and where he goes, they go. Stewart’s slow appreciation for them and getting past his anxiety towards having dogs in his life was also a good point from the author – something that made Stewart connect with Michael.
- Did I mention the sex? (well I will do so again because it deserved like a whole chapter devoted to this) Oh my god, I hope none of you mind my fangirling over this couple and their sexy moments. I don’t even remember the other books and their sexy life, I can’t even think about it because THIS BOOK, holy mother of God – this book uses sex as a bridge to connect these two characters in a way that is not only carnal and sexual but also sentimental. The sweet moments after sex, the quiet feeling we get with such a loud meaning was so good.
- The conflict and angst is real man. When Michael is about to be transferred and Stewart just can’t deal with it – the panic attacks, the grumpiness, the avoidance he has to put up with just to ignore the feeling he has inside. Michael struggling to realize this is not what he wants, he wants to be with Stewart and no one else – its feels so real.
“Fuck,” he said under his breath, his fingers shaking as he gripped my hand. “We’ll probably mess up a whole bunch of times along the way, but you’ll still be my person, Stewart.”93% of the book
- The ending, boy oh boy, the ending was so sweet. They are back to the beginning – to the same bathroom scene, to the sex and the amount of feelings that is almost overwhelming! They are back to a new year full of wishes – but mostly, them just loving each other.
“Go figure,” I added, then sobered as I stared at him. “I’m scared, Michael. We antiheroes are pretty imperfect.”
“Don’t ever let go of me again,” I whispered against his mouth.
“I wouldn’t dream of it.” When his arms wound even tighter, I wiggled my way closer so we were heartbeat to heartbeat.
“Good, because you’re my person too.” When his eyes softened, my stomach turned to mush.94% of the book
This book broke my heart with its characters and their need to belong, to be loved and accepted. Their realization that in order to grow and be who they want to be, some changes needs to be done. Coming to the realization that they love each other – something they could not even imagine coming out of a bad break up. Boy, this romance was hard and gorgeous.