ARC Reviews: There You Stand: Christina Lee

There You Stand (Between Breaths #5)
Christina Lee
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Expected April 21, 2015

From the author of All of You and Before You Break comes a new Between Breaths male/male standalone romance about the silent, inked up skateboarder and the tattoo artist who unravels him piece by piece…

Tattoo artist Cory Easton has worked long enough at Raw Ink to know, just by looking at a dude, what his body art reveals, what makes him tick, what even makes him scared. Until he meets the quiet and remote Jude York—so unreadable, so unreachable, and so unlike anyone else, he can’t help but arouse Cory’s curiosity.

As captivating and complex as his ink, Jude is a mystery—and Cory’s falling fast and hard under his spell. Against his better judgment to steer clear.

The rumors of Jude’s past overshadow him—whispers of prison and an unmentionable secret that’s kept him in the protective shadows of a local motorcycle club. As Cory probes deeper, he wonders how much he really wants to know. Especially since Jude has awakened something inside him that has been buried too long—and has him feeling completely alive for the first time in forever…

Cory Easton, a tattoo artist at Raw Ink, has a bit of a crush...near obsession...on Jude York, a mysterious skateboarder with a sexy British accent. Whenever they are in each other's presence there is definite tension. But Cory can't tell if it is one sided and what Jude really thinks since Jude is a man of few words. It made me realize just how hard it would be for a gay man to find the courage to try to figure out if another man is interested in him. Guessing wrong could really lead to some tense situations.

I loved Cory. He had a self deprecating and vulnerable side, but was also a bit alpha, sexy, and charismatic. He had demons that haunted him, but tried to hide them under a friendly, outgoing persona. 

"Why is talking so damn hard for you?" (Cory)
"Why is silence so bloody hard for you?" (Jude)

Jude was such an enigma. But he was magnetic, brooding, intriguing, and my heart broke for him. He was the strong,  silent type that tried to mask his pain. But as he started to come out of his shell with Cory, I totally came to adore him. 

Jude had his own misery, his own heartache, anyway. His scars were like stitches and seams that held all of that darkness inside of him.
Together they had such a hot sexual tension, but also had up barriers that had to be broken down bit by bit. I loved their little game of True or False. Their chemistry was powerful and really hot. And their feelings were desperate and deep too. I loved them together and found them to both be swoon worthy, likable heroes. 

"And there you stand. Like the keeper of all my dreams. And suddenly there's someplace I desperately want to belong." (Jude)

But their lives are complicated not only by the fact that they are unsure about their personal situation and have past issues that haunt them, but Jude also has big secrets. He has some ties to some dangerous people and he has to protect himself. There is danger lurking that they have to be wary of and their future is precarious at best. They are both terrified of suffering more loss in their lives. 

This was an intense, passionate, M/M love story with some humor, mystery, and suspense built in. There were some twists and turns that made it even more intriguing, It was all told in Cory's point of view, but once Jude stared talking, he had a strong voice himself.  I was engaged throughout their story and totally invested in them. I think she did a fantastic job with the M/M genre and creating two complex, broken men that complimented each other so well.  I loved both of these guys and even their crazy dogs.

This can easily be read as a stand-alone, but some old friends from previous stories floated in and out including Jessie, Nate, Bennett, Avery, Dex, and Emmy. I am interested in more with Emmy and also Dex since their stories were teased a bit. The introduction of the MC club also brings up possible opportunities for spin offs.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Cory Easton, tattoo artist at Raw Ink, is a lively chatterbox. Always near the center of attention, he is quick to jump into conversation or fill silence. But he is living in pain, both emotional and physical, from a tragedy.

Jude York appeared in town quietly, rarely speaks beyond the most necessary conversation, and is surrounded by rumors and mystery. He catches Cory’s attention as he skates in the local skate park, but not knowing if the quiet mystery man is gay or straight keeps Cory from pursuing anything beyond watching from a distance.

When Jude comes into Raw Ink for some new ink work, Cory finally has an opportunity to ask some of the questions he’s been pondering. But every time he gets the courage to ask a personal question, Jude shuts down. But over time, the quiet man begins sharing. And the man ever ready to jump into conversation soon finds himself settling and quieting.

This is the second M/M book I’ve read in the last couple weeks, and while I don’t seek them out as stand alones, I love the way they sit within the series in which they occur. This one had a great build up of feeling rather than characters jumping into bed together, for those who are hesitant to read M/M from that perspective.

I liked the bridge that Cory’s dogs played in bringing these two men together. Jude has a quiet confidence that speaks even to the most challenging of Cory’s dogs, to the point where Chopper begins seeking out Jude long before the men have had more than a few one-sided conversations.

At some point in this one, I just wanted things to move a little bit faster. I spent a lot of the time wondering what else was going to happen, because for a while it seemed their only hold-up was Jude’s reluctance to open up. But when he began to let Cory in, the reason behind his taciturn nature and his reluctance to open up made so much more sense.

This had a good mix of elements: quiet threats, an MC influence, the mystery of Jude’s past. I liked the way characters from previous books made their presence known, through the shop scenes, and their weekly meetups after work. There is some tension running in the background between Emmy and Tristan at the animal shelter, and I am looking forward to their story and others.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

All Of You (Book 1)
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Before You Break (Book 2)
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Whisper to Me (Book 3)
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Promise Me This (Book 4)
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Christina Lee 

Mother, wife, reader, dreamer. Christina lives in the Midwest with her husband and son--her two favorite guys. She's addicted to lip gloss and salted caramel everything.

She believes in true love and kissing, so writing romance novels has become a dream job.

She also owns her own jewelry business, where she hand-stamps meaningful words or letters onto silver for her customers. 

She loves to hear from her readers. 


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