Review: The Sweetest Scent by Susan Laine

thesweetestscentThe Sweetest Scent by Susan Laine (Senses and Sensations #4)
M/M Young Adult
September 23, 2013
Dreamspinner Press

From Goodreads:

Bro Sumner loves his girlfriend, Lacey Adair, who underneath her pretty dress is in fact a boy, and she loves him right back. They are an exclusive item in high school, but they face some dangerous opposition, including a bullying fellow jock on Bro’s football team and Lacey’s violent alcoholic father. Lacey gets some martial arts training from an ally, and both she and Bro end up having to use fists to defend themselves. Still, their high school years have been mostly happy. Their differing plans for the future after graduation, however, seem to separate them by thousands of miles.

A compromise with the help of relatives and friends means Bro and Lacey will go to school only an hour apart, but they still miss each other. It’s not long before they make new friendships and discover new romantic possibilities. Temptations, jealousies, distance, and expanding horizons could sever their relationship forever unless they can keep their dream of a life together alive in their hearts.

My favorite quote:

“Because you’re mine. And I know you, heart and soul. I’ve never known anyone as full of light as you. You shine, baby. You blind me.”

I was so intrigued by this blurb, I had to read this story and I’m really glad I did. Ms. Laine is a new to me author and while I’ve read adult m/m I had not read one set in high school with a transgender teen. Goodreads notes on its sidebar that this is a YA, but there are detailed sex scenes in here which I don’t think fall under the YA umbrella.

I very much enjoyed our lead characters, Bro and Lacey. I couldn’t help but be moved by the way the author depicted the very real struggles these young people faced every day. Both teens have had troubled childhoods, each having lost one or both parents. But even so, they find a way to be true to themselves. They are out and proud and have good friends and a strong support system in Bro’s brother Sebastian and their extended family. Lacey lives with her father, though he struggles from depression since his wife’s (Lacey’s mother) death and has much difficulty accepting Lacey’s choice to dress as a female.

From the outside looking in, you’d think Bro and Lacey were any other high school couple. Bro is a jock, plays football well and hopes to make a career of it. Lacey, in her sundresses and pink lip gloss plays the violin and fully expects a scholarship to a college with a strong music program. Just like any other high school seniors with their future ahead of them as it should be. But that is not always the case for Bro and Lacey. While the author shows us events with bullying and prejudice throughout the story, she also shows love and acceptance in so many ways that I kept thinking how much pain and hurt could be avoided if people could just get over themselves and just accept people for who they are and stop being so judgemental.

Throughout the story, it’s clear that Bro and Lacey have an intimate relationship made easier when Lacey moves in with Bro and his brother after an incident with her father. I had a little trouble accepting the fact that there was no question that Lacey would move in with Bro and share his room. Had she been born female, I imagine this would not have been allowed so easily. I can’t remember if Lacey or Bro’s exact ages were ever stated and while I know kids are having sex younger and younger these days, I couldn’t help but think that certain liberties were taken here just because Lacey was actually a boy. I pondered this a lot but just continued to have more questions.

Told in two parts, we follow Bro and Lacey through high school as our H/H deal with falling in love, family issues, and deciding on what to do for college. Neither wants to be away from the other, but circumstances like finances, not to mention career choices, make going to the same school impossible. The second part shows us how they manage their relationship while going to different colleges, it not being exactly as they expected, making new friends and developing those relationships, and then dealing with some typical jealousy and misunderstandings.

While I truly enjoyed Bro and Lacey’s story, there were a couple of things that would pull me out of the story on occasion. The switching of pronouns when referring to Lacey was a bit of a challenge at times. Lacey is mostly referred to as “she” except when they are intimate and Bro considers him a “he” for obvious reasons. I also had a few instances where the dialogue bounced me right out of a scene. I just don’t think that teenagers of this day speak to each other this way and it made some of the dialogue corny.

All in all, I liked this author’s take on a same sex couple and the very real issues their relationship experiences as it grows. I enjoyed the secondary characters, friends and family both, who provided a wonderful support system. Even though I had a little trouble with the easy acceptance of a young couple being allowed to “live together”, I found that the obstacles that they faced, how they overcame them, and the fact that their relationship survived-not to mention the HEA we are given, made me believe that Bro and Lacey were in it for the long haul.

Rating: B

Recent Reviews:
My Fiction Nook – 3/5

Goodreads l Author Website l Series Guide


  1. says

    Thank you kindly for the thoughtful review. The part where you said Bro and Lacey seemed like any other high school couple, I was so pleased because that had been my goal. To show that just because Lacey wears dresses as a boy, doesn’t mean she and Bro aren’t just normal teenagers. Which they are. So, thanks again :)

    • Helyce says

      Susan, thanks for stopping by. When time permits, I look forward to reading the stories that preceded this one. Bro’s extended “family” intrigue me!

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