Book Review: Just Like That by Cole McCade ★★★

Fancy a hit of sub/dom-light romance blending an emotionally withholding Daddy-figure and some borderline cultural clichés thrown in? Grab hold of your speedos and dive into Cole McCade’s new book Just Like That.

Summer Hemlock returns home (to Omen, Massachusetts) to take up the position of Teacher’s Assistant at his old boarding school, Albin Academy, directly under the eye of his former controlling teacher, Professor Fox Iseya. Summer’s hot for teacher and must break out of his shy exterior if he wants to get him.

If the names and set up sound cartoonish, well, it’s because they are. Just Like That is a silly, sexy romp filled with absurd scenarios that make no sense in the real world, but work in this bizarre space McCade creates.

The “completely, sweetly submissive” Summer and Fox get entangled in a ‘kissing game’ where Summer must earn Fox’s signs of affection in secret. When Fox catches sight of  Summer doing laps in the school’s pool at night in his speedos, things get a lot steamier (and hilariously, enjoyably over-written – we’re not here for subtlety).

The taciturn Fox flips from stoically cold (and grieving for the death of his wife years before) to domineering and sexy at the flip of a switch, while Summer flits between infectiously flirty and crippled with juvenile romantic angst. There’s a lot of schooling going on, but none of it is academic.

Can Summer scale Fox’s emotional walls to find true love to go with his possessive, dominating sexual energy? Well, publishing imprint Carina Adores (yes, that would make a great drag name), is all about serving up LGBTQ+ romances where characters find their “happily-ever-afters” so you can be guaranteed of at least one happy ending here.

McCade is a prolific author of genre-infused LGBTQ+ romantic fiction (this is book one in an ongoing Albin Academy series) and his style won’t be for everyone. Imagine the gay soap-opera Dante’s Cove being set in a boarding school and you’re not far off. There are definitely yaoi influences here and to be honest, the use of Fox’s Japanese heritage felt clichéd and boarded on “orientalism”. But then, everything here is clichéd, so maybe it just blends into the mix.

While the whole thing is as two dimensional as it could be, Just Like That is a throw away book you can crush in a weekend for some fun. If you like your guilty pleasures (and the idea of positive LGBTQ+ romance fiction) you might want to check this out.

Just Like That (Albin Academy #1) by Cole McCade is published by Carina Adores (a digital-first LGBTQ+ imprint of Harlequin Press) in e-book form on June 30, 2020.

Advance review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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