Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: Jacki James

Genre: Gay Romance

Tags: Contemporary, Fake Boyfriend, Opposites Attract, Romance, Series, Small Town

Length: 151 Pages

Reviewer: Cindi

Purchase At: Amazon

Blurb –

What kind of loser pretends to have a boyfriend?

Oh, yeah, that’s me, Landon Nichols. I’m the loser. In my defense, I didn’t actually make up a boyfriend. My mom just assumed I had one, and I figured if it made her feel better to think I had someone in my life, then what could it hurt? Nothing, right?

Until she decides I need to bring my pretend boyfriend home for a visit. I don’t want to lie to my mom, but I don’t want to worry her either. I’m flat out of excuses and I have no idea what to do.

Then in walks Miller Monroe. Miller has a reputation as a bad boy, so imagine my surprise when he insists on going with me to see my family. But I’m a horrible liar, and I know I’ll never pull off a fake relationship.

His solution? We’ll date, just as friends, so I won’t be lying. For a guy who is supposed to be terrified of commitment, Miller is awfully committed to making this fake boyfriend thing work, and now I have a whole new problem…

What kind of loser falls for his fake boyfriend?

Review –

I’m reading these books out of order, but there’s a reason for my madness. I read Cruz and Nolan’s story right before this one. I knew Cruz from Finding Ripley, but I’d not read where Nolan was introduced to River Gorge. I wanted to see that while it was still fresh. Nolan was only in it for a page or two. After this, I went back in and read the rest of the books in order. Thankfully, they can mostly be read as standalones, so it’s not that big of a deal what order I read them. That applies to them all except Finding Ripley, in my opinion. Everybody should read about Ripley’s baby goats and llama right off. 🙂

Now to my review…

Miller is a successful real estate agent in River Gorge. Born and raised there, he’s got a good feel of the town and surrounding areas. He came from money, but he works hard on his own. Miller is also the town bad boy, always hooking up when he has a chance.

Or so everybody thinks anyway.

Landon, who works for Reed and Ripley at their ranch, has forever written all over him, as Miller so eloquently put it. He hooks up on occasion, but the ultimate goal for him is to have what his friends have, a happily-ever-after. He’d flirted a bit with Miller in the past, but nothing came of it, effectively telling Landon that he wasn’t wanted.

No big deal. Who wants a bad boy anyway?

Well, it turns out that Landon does, only Miller’s not quite the bad boy everybody believes him to be.

Landon’s mother, who lives with the family in Oklahoma, would like nothing more than to have Landon move back home. That would never happen, but that doesn’t stop her from worrying. To get ‘Mom’ off his back, he’s implied that he’s seeing somebody. He never outright told her he had a boyfriend, but he didn’t correct her when she  assumed it either. Now it’s coming up on the holidays and his mother is pushing him to bring ‘the boyfriend’ home for the holidays – the same boyfriend that Landon’s brother is convinced doesn’t exist. Well, he doesn’t exist, but still.

Miller didn’t plan on eavesdropping on Landon’s conversation but it happened. It didn’t take much to get the gist of what was going on with Landon’s family, and how his brother wasn’t buying the whole boyfriend act. So, what does Miller do? He throws out the offer of pretending to be his boyfriend, and spending Thanksgiving with Landon’s family. In return, Miller wants Landon to spend Christmas with his family in River Gorge. The two families are as different as night and day but Landon agrees. To keep from outright lying to their friends and families, they do start dating, but they both know it’s more or less just hanging out as friends. They agree to be exclusive, and this is how their fake relationship gets started. Only it doesn’t stay fake for very long.

Miller’s tired of hooking up with random guys. He’s finding himself wanting what all his friends have. Sure, what he and Landon are doing isn’t real, but is it wrong for him to want it to be? It doesn’t help that all their friends warn Landon off from Miller because of his bad boy reputation. Miller’s very quick to defend himself when the friends get started on him – he doesn’t care who it is – but actions speak louder than words. He has to prove to all of them that he is capable of settling down.

It takes no time at all before real feelings come into play in the fake relationship. They also stop dancing around each other and finally have sex. This leads to not just being a couple in public, but they’re also a couple when it’s just the two of them. They, well, Landon, just doesn’t realize it until he’s forced to.

I’m not big on the fake boyfriend trope. I’ve read some good ones, but I’m constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. This keeps me on edge throughout the whole book. That was definitely the case with Reining in the Bad Boy. River Gorge is a small town, and it’s common knowledge that Miller’s hooked up with a lot of the men, so of course there was the risk of him and Landon bumping into one of his former sex buddies. When it happened – because of course it did – I was expecting a long and drawn out ‘big misunderstanding’. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. It actually opened the door for them to express their feelings.

It was nice seeing all the other guys again, especially Cruz because I’ve just read his story. The sex scenes are both hot and sweet. The author didn’t bog the story down with a bunch of unnecessary drama, another plus. There’s also a nice epilogue that takes the reader ahead five years.

Overall, a good book. I went back and forth on my rating before settling on 4 stars. The ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’ thing played a big part. That’s not to say that the book isn’t really good. It definitely is. It’s just one of my reading quirks.