Review: Nothing Like Paris by Amy Jo Cousins


With this post I'm joining the Dive into Diversity challenge, hosted by Rather be Reading and Reading Wishes. This monthly challenge highlight the diverse books we have read and loved.

Title: Nothing Like Paris (Bend or Break #2)
Author: Amy Jo Cousins
Date of publication: 3 March 2015
Genre/Themes: Romance, New Adult, m/m

Author's links:
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My rating: 4.5 stars


Humble pie wasn’t supposed to taste this sweet.

Jack Tarkington’s life is in the toilet. He was supposed to be spending his junior year studying someplace cool like Paris or Rome. Instead, after taking out his anger on the campus “golden boy”, whose dad ripped off his parents, Jack is facing possible expulsion.

Sure, it’s all his own fault, but coming back to the small Iowa town he thought he’d escaped, after crowing about his admission to a prestigious school, has been a humbling experience.

When he runs into Miguel, Jack braces for backlash over the way he lorded it over his old friend and flame. Instead, Miguel offers him friendship—and a job at his growing farm-to-table store and café.

Against the odds, both guys bond over broken dreams and find common ground in music. But when Jack’s college gives him a second chance, he’s torn between achieving a dream that will take him far from home, and a love that strikes a chord he’ll never find anywhere else.

I loved this story so much. It's setting is completelty different from Off Campus, yet it worked perfectly for me. Ms Cousins has managed to create these real, flawed characters who totally captivated me with their story. 

There is drama and pain and miscommunication and secrets but they felt real and there was not over the top or excessive about the characters and their feelings. It all fitted very nicelty with being a young person in their 20s figuring out how to be a grown-up.


We met Jack in book 1, Off Campus, and he was a total jerk there, compeltely unlovable and plain mean. I wasn't sure how and if at all Ms Cousins will manage to redeem him. But boy, did she redeem him.

At the beginning, I was all about Mike (Miguel). He was perfect. He appeared all calm and collected, a responsible grown-up, business owner, yet he was as confused and misguided as any young person. I loved his relationship with his family and Andie. 

The greatest strength of the story for me is the way the author protrayed that awkward stage when you are no longer a teenager and everybody expects you be a grwn up and act like it, yet you are a confused boy/girl, making mistakes, struggling to be a responsible adult. As someone in her mid 30s who still sometimes doesn't feel much different from her confused, misguided, naive teenage self, I can relate so well and easily to that.

Jack and Miguel's is a second-chance love story and first-love and friends-to-lovers all in one. They both had some grwoing up to do, time to figure how to be together and still chase their dreams (and deal with one harsh reality). 

Jack was really bad initially, angry, hurting everybody who tried to help him, mostly Miguel. Years of neglect at home, emotional abuse, lack of love, support and understanding from anyone besides Miguel and his family have make prickiness and verbal agression his way of protecting himself. He had to learn how some pretty harsh lessons, saying sorry, trying to correct some of your mistakes didn't come easily or naturally to him.

Their getting back together was slow, sexy and intense. They both had some difficulty opening up about their feelings. Jack's journey was a fascinating one, he really did learn how to deal with the bad things in life in a better way. 

I loved how the issue of bullying was presented in a rather unique way. We see a gay guy who was bullied high school turning into a bully himself in college. There are many social issues woven intricately into the text without sounding preachy. 

The story doesn't show a perfect good/bad guy - just normal (young) people learning to be grown up by making mistakes, doing stupid things, but ultimately doing the right things. Things are no black and white, all the charaacters we meet, were complex real people with real feelings and real issues. Andie was fantastic (I hope she will get her book too, she soooo deserve some lvoe in her life).

Miguel was dealing difficult issues of his own. He was acepted and loved by his family, yet his relationship with them was a complex one - he needed to be needed and I understand this very well. His was having his own fight between responsiblity and desire to follow his dreams/heart. 

This is an intense story with some funny times, teary times and sexy times, a lot of anger, resentment, tenderness, passion. A highly recommended read!

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / iBooks / Samhain

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