Reviewed by Tori
Justice Crawford has many problems. As a severely closeted gay southern man with a debilitating anxiety disorder, Justice knows his trip to Seattle for his best friends wedding is asking for trouble. Disowned by his family and unable to come out to his friends, Justice has given up on love and foresees his future being nothing more than a series of random meaningless hook ups.
Nic Valentine, a charter boat captain, is grieving the loss of his father when the man of his dreams falls literally into his lap. Nic never expects to see him again but when his boat is rented out for a bachelor party, Nic is surprised and pleased to see Justice again. Nic tries to avoid his attraction to Justice as he spent three years of his life loving a man who would not come out of the closet and has no urge to repeat that experience. But Justice’s looks and quirkiness calls to Nic and before he knows it, he and Justice are exploring their hot and heavy attraction.
Justice adores Nic but he just can’t handle the thought of losing his friends if he comes out. When a situation forces his hand, can Justice handle the fallout? Or will he once again run from the pain and this time lose his heart in the process?
I Survived Seattle is Hogan’s debut M/M contemporary romance and though there were some issues, the overall outcome was a lightweight cute sexy romance with a well developed storyline. The characters are all delightfully quirky and wonderfully flawed with a deep vein of realism running through them. The story is written in an enjoyable conversational style with engaging dialogue that will keep you entertained all the way to the end.
The story itself is pretty straight forward in its delivery. Boy meets boy, attraction forms, conflict is introduced, conflict resolved, the end. While I enjoyed this tale, it’s the characters who breathed life into it and elevate it beyond a simple contemporary romance. Dynamic in development, Hogan gives us real people who react as we might. They are easy to relate to. Their joys, fears, wants, and needs are laid bare and we are allowed to share in their journey as they experience the lessons life hands us. The journey isn’t perfect and both protagonists have issues that need to be resolved. The execution, with alternating points of view, flows smoothly, offering a unique view into their thoughts. It’s a nice way to see what each took away from certain scenes.
Justice and Nic are entertaining protagonists separately and together. Hogan does a wonderful job of introducing them and letting us get to know them as individuals first. Justice’s phobias are revealed in a realistic fashion. I liked he isn’t portrayed as a victim in need of saving. He knows he has issues and throughout the story, he learns that he needs to address the causes behind those issues if he is to live a normal life on his own terms. Nic is utterly delightful. Fun, charismatic, and sexy, he is the perfect match for Justice. He grounds him in a way that offers Justice hope. Their chemistry is explosive and only increases with the storyline. Though there is a strong instant love vibe, it doesn’t take away from the overall enjoyment.
I did have some issues in that our main characters seemed to struggle to define themselves within the story. They would slip into personas that didn’t fit comfortably on them. Justice and Nic would speak and think in terms that didn’t sound natural. For example; ‘adorbs’, ‘bitch please’ and so one. Nic looked into Justine’s anime eyes. Or Nic thought about Justice and ‘chubbed out.” I don’t know anyone who describes their lovers eyes as anime. Most would say large. Also, no man I’ve ever met, gay or straight, has ever described a hard on as ‘chubbing out.’ It smacked a little of stereotyping and you could tell it was a female voice speaking to us through them.
Engaging secondary characters round out the story and add lots of humor and help to carry the story along. The villain is predictably comedic and over the top vile in his need to create problems for Justice. I’m looking forward to seeing if his reasons are what Justice suspects.
The ending is predictable but interesting in how it plays out. I Survived Seattle is a sexy engaging M/M romantic contemporary that will leave you giggling at times as you watch Justice fight his way through his fears to be with the man he loves.