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Aubrey Cullens: Sliding Into Home

Aubrey Cullens--Sliding Into HomeDanny works two jobs to help pay for his late mother’s medical bills and to support his friend Laura, a college student, and her younger brother, Chad, who’s in high school. When Chad came out to his parents, they kicked him out and Laura told them that if they did want him, they couldn’t have her either. So, with only one person working for a three-person household, money is tight. Danny does what he needs to do–legally of course–to get things paid. Chad has a somewhat unexpected uniform fee due, so Danny goes to donate plasma to get 50 bucks to pay for it. As he’s leaving, trying to get to his next job, he’s a little out of it and happens to run into one Oscar Rosales Ortega.

Oscar is the first openly gay professional baseball player and he just happens to be in San Francisco for some community charity promotion and face time with a team that’s courting him on the sly. He’s trying to make is exit, but Danny is in a bit of a fog and blocking his way. After getting Danny’s attention, he gets a little spark and offers to drive Danny to his next destination. Danny’s a little out of it and has no idea who Oscar actually is, but he feels it too. At Danny’s workplace, a restaurant, three no-goods eye them as they enter and don’t take kindly to the scene. It was pretty innocent on Danny’s part, but Oscar had a possessive air about him. Oscar hangs for about 15 minutes and then goes on his way.

At the end of Danny’s next shift, he runs into the no-goods and lands in the hospital for his trouble. Oscar catches wind of this and blames himself. He rushes to the hospital and ends up driving Danny, Laura, and Chad home. Laura’s a little pushy, demanding to know how Danny knows Oscar and demanding the same from Oscar. While I get her concern, I think that her aggressiveness is a little misplaced or rather I just don’t like people demanding information in situations like this–usually it’s on behalf of an adult who (usually) is perfectly capable of sorting things out on their own. It always makes me uncomfortable. Why do people think they’re entitled to the information in question? If someone wants to offer it, that’s fine, but why do people think anyone owes them?

Anyway, Danny is kinda cute in his straightforwardness. At first you get the feeling that he might be a pushover and he’s not entirely forthcoming about things, but he has this whole “do right by others” thing about him and that lends itself to making him unafraid of saying what he wants or doing things to that effect. So, broken ribs and all, he kisses Oscar. I didn’t expect that. Oscar and Danny are kind of cute together and they’re rather cheeky, particularly Oscar. He wants to support Danny financially, but Danny isn’t about that, so he finds a creative way to do it all while trying to find creative ways to keep Danny from returning to work. Because, once Danny returns to work, Oscar won’t have any reason to stay, not an extenuating one anyway.

There’s an impending endorsement from a thinly veiled Chic-fil-A that Oscar has been warned against, but for other reasons has been putting off agreeing to. This subplot made me itch because I got so tired of Oscar being oblivious to the goings on in own his life, that wasn’t taking the time to understand what was at stake. His ex told him about the company’s controversial status within the LGBT+ community. His agent was still pushing for it, but Oscar’s never asked for clarification and I was really getting tired of him missing opportunities to do so or even to look it up on his own.

Rewinding back to the beginning when the story revealed that their was a spark, a gravitation between Oscar and Danny… As the story went on, I wasn’t seeing it. The story kept telling me that they felt this way or that about each other, but I wasn’t seeing the chemistry between them. Now, granted I did think that they were cute together, but I wasn’t really seeing this overall dynamic the story wanted me to buy into. Oscar helped Danny with his physical therapy, but beyond that I wasn’t seeing enough interaction where they would get to know each other. There was even some intimacy beyond that kiss–nothing as far as penetration (at first), but I was still not convinced of this connection they were supposed to have. So I just reached the point where I accepted that the author was force-feeding me this undeniable dynamic instead of letting the story prove it.

Since the story failed to convince me of much, I figured I’d go all out with my call on how it would end: Oscar meets meet with the controversial company and turns them down to their face because he somehow made time to Google them. Then, he fires Darren, his agent, for even suggesting it. And then–I don’t know what Laura was studying, maybe business or something–Oscar hires Laura as his agent. Then, maybe just throwing it out there, but it gets down to the wire and he has to figure out if he’s staying in LA. with the Dodgers or if he’s going to sign with the Giants who are in San Francisco, which also happens to be where Danny lives. That’s not at all what happened, but if any of that could have, I wish it would have been Oscar firing his agent for even suggesting he endorse such a thing.

And on top of everything else, this book had the unfortunate pleasure of sending me into a mild rage. It was just one too many times that I encountered:

He let out a breath that he hadn’t realized that he had been holding.

Cullens got the memo, they all got the memo, all the writers. Nearly every story I’ve read recently has included this line or some close variation. I get it; it’s a perfect way to capture the moment, but do I have to see this in everything I read?

Anyway, all told, the story wasn’t that bad; it was more of a snack, really, but it wasn’t tasty enough for me to want more.

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