Unsaid (The Manhattanites #3), Avery Aster
Publisher: Avery Aster
Genre: Gay Erotic Romance
Tags: BDSM (Anal Beads, Electricity, Flogging, Restraints), Contemporary, Erotica, Fisting, Friends-to-Lovers, Mystery/Suspense, Romance, Series, Violence (sexual and non),Water Sports
Length: 331 Pages
Purchase At: amazon.com
*** This review is long, NSFW and slightly spoilerish. ***
For fans who loved the snarky wit of Will & Grace and the epic love drama found in Brokeback Mountain comes New York Times Bestselling Author Avery Aster’s new full-length, standalone contemporary M/M romance novel, Unsaid.
Chelsea’s hottie Blake Morgan III has reemerged from a nasty breakup. His marriage was a frigid disaster beyond repair, and he vows to be single–forever. Bruised, but still hot in Prada, he creates his Seven Desires wish list, his sexiest imaginings. Blake soon realizes there’s only one man he may trust to make these uninhibited intentions come to fruition: his best friend Miguel Santana.
Lower East Side multimedia artist extraordinaire Miguel Santana may be known as the cocky Latin stud in the city, but all he’s wanted since college was Blake’s hand in marriage. He was livid when Blake walked down the aisle with the wrong guy. Miguel has his own list titled the Seven Needs, which are quite contrary to Blake’s dirty-boy deeds. They involve serious commitments, which may leave his new-to-the-singles-scene buddy sprinting for the door, destroying any hopes Miguel has for happiness.
Can these two hunks conquer their intimate fears and love one another as only best friends can? Join the star-studded cast in The Manhattanites series and see for yourself!
I am not a fan of jumping into the middle of a series. The author insisted that Unsaid could be read as a standalone. I got lucky earlier in the year with a book by a different author that was also #3 when I’d not read the ones before it. So I took a chance with this one without having read books 1 and 2.
I don’t believe this should be billed as a standalone. A DNF remained a strong possibility for me until about 40% into the book. There are so many different stories going on with so many different characters that I was seriously lost. We’re not talking a few characters here and there showing up in the lives of the two main characters, Miguel and Blake. No, I’m referring to several different stories going on with their own brand of drama at the exact same time. I would be getting into Mig and Blake’s story only to be yanked away yet again by Lex’s or Taddy’s or whoever had something going on at that particular moment. It was extremely distracting and more than a little frustrating. I did not know these characters, nor did I care about what was going on in their worlds unless it pertained to Blake and Miguel. Perhaps had I read the first two books I’d feel differently, but I didn’t. The only way to describe this is as a soap opera (I think I’ve seen it described that way somewhere else as well). The reader is dropped in the middle of Manhattan and forced to either play catch-up with the goings on or walk away.
With that being said, I kept going and thankfully Blake and Miguel started to take center a little bit more. However, the others were always there front and center as well.
Blake has just gotten divorced after five years of marriage from Diego. As in his divorce actually becomes final on the day Unsaid starts (after a quickie Prologue). The marriage was a bad one almost from the start. The reader isn’t privy to why until long into the book. It’s only understood that Diego is a very, very bad man and had done Blake wrong in a lot of ways. No, not just done wrong. He (Diego) had done things that were criminal. This is why I listed the Mystery/Suspense tag at the top of this review.
Then there’s Miguel. Miguel has been Blake’s best friend for the past decade. Miguel and Diego had been close friends as well until Diego came in and swooped Blake off his feet before Mig had a chance to tell Blake he was in love with him.
I have to go back to the best friends for a decade thing. There were several things about that particular friendship that had me shaking my head. One, the two men knew literally nothing about each other outside of what came out while they were out with other friends. Two, if they were best friends for so long, including while Blake and Diego were dating, why did Miguel have to find out Blake was getting married by receiving an invitation in the mail? I don’t know about you folks, but if I was about to do something so drastic, my best friend would know about it long before anyone else did. Three, neither had ever met the other’s family. Throughout the entire book, the words “best friends” or “my friend” were used constantly, yet to me, the two men came across as guys who had just gone to college together and were either mere acquaintances or just drinking buddies. I know men are different when it comes to certain things, but this was too far out there to be realistic, in my opinion.
On the day the divorce is final, Blake is having his regular (drinking) lunch with his friends Thor and Vive. Thor is flamboyant and charming. He was the comic relief in this book. Vive? Well, Vive wasn’t a likable character by any means. She’s all about her and if she hurt feelings? Too damn bad. This is definitely true when it comes to another friend, Lex. Lex is planning a wedding to her royal man, Massimo. I can’t say for sure why exactly Massimo is royalty, as I didn’t read their book. Vive makes her thoughts on certain things known with Lex. Lex could’ve been a true bitch and kicked her out of her life, but she didn’t. She saw a problem with Vive and handled it head on. The same applied to another friend, Taddy. While Blake is having his celebratory lunch with two of his best buds, they drunkenly ask him what his sexual fantasies are. You know, like what would Blake love to do now that he’s free to do as he pleases with whoever he likes?
I have to say this because it’s mentioned constantly throughout the book – Blake has never been bottomed. Ever. Apparently this is something that his friends felt should be discussed at length
again and again because they come up with a list of Seven Desires for him to do with guys now that he’s newly single. One of the friends sends the list privately to Miguel and this is where the story of Blake and Miguel takes off. Well, the story that’s really been building for over a decade. At first I was all over these two guys. I’m a big sucker for friends-to-lovers stories and I could see me falling for both of them, and I did for a little while.
Blake has serious issues after what he endured during his marriage. No longer the confident man from before he said his vows, he’s now hard on himself and full of guilt for reasons I won’t go into here. Once upon a time he loved Diego. I have to note that strongly before I go further in regards to him and Miguel. There was love there when he married his now ex husband. Sure, things got really bad during the marriage, but the love had been there way back when. Because of that I had a huge problem with Miguel.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
Miguel is basically a slut. He’s been with more guys than he can count, but no one has ever stuck around. It takes only a little while in the book for the reader to see why; he’s hopelessly in love with his best friend. Another thing about Miguel? He’s in the closet with his family and this is a very big deal. He may play around all over the place with anyone and everyone, but he has somehow kept it away from his parents and sister. That’s another part of the story that I won’t spoil in his review.
As soon as the Seven Desires list has been written, Vive and Thor make it their mission to make sure that Blake experiences every single one of his fantasies. Of course they immediately enlist Miguel, who has already privately seen the list. Miguel has his own list, called Seven Needs. I’ll admit that when the two guys started working on their ‘lists’ together, it got hot pretty quick. However, and this is where I had a major issue with Miguel, Miguel pushed too hard and too fast in my opinion. He had no clue why Blake and Diego divorced. He didn’t know if Blake had been left heartbroken or what, yet he pushed… and pushed… and pushed… for more from Blake than he was willing (or able) to give right then. Not only that, but there is BDSM play that I felt was too intense for a man like Blake who had next to zero experience in anything sexual. Sure, he’d been married to Diego for half a decade, but the sex had been nonexistent for a very long time (again, for reasons I won’t go into here).
Then there are the other players in the story. Lex, Massimo, Taddy, Vive, Thor, Birdie (Lex’s mother), and others. Each one had their own story going on. From Lex and Massimo’s upcoming wedding, to Birdie and her flightiness, to Vive and her addictions, I felt… scattered. I’m sure that all these individual stories would (like I said above) mean more had I read the first two books, but I didn’t.
The mystery of this story (in regards to Diego) was interesting to an extent. I’m always eager to know more about the so-called villain in a story, so I felt a bit let down when more about Diego wasn’t elaborated on. I’m not saying things didn’t come out little by little. They did. However, for such a sick and warped human being, I’d have enjoyed the story a lot more had I felt that I knew him and his circumstances better. If you’ve read any of my reviews of horror books or thrillers you know that I always want to know as much as possible about the bad guy. But this wasn’t a horror or thriller book, and I knew this going into it, so I shouldn’t complain.
Blake and Miguel are as different as night and day. I wanted to love Miguel. I really did. But I felt that he pushed Blake to the point of making life-altering decisions long before he was ready. I felt that if Mig had waited a decade for his man, why couldn’t he wait a little bit longer instead of going all alpha within 24 hours of the divorce being final? This alpha personality really carried over to the sexual (and BDSM) situations. Had this been strictly during the BDSM aspects of the story, I might would get it. However, during the one big scene in the book, he took it too far. I’m no expert in BDSM by any means, but I’m familiar enough to know that what Mig did in that particular scene went beyond the norm, even if Blake ended up accepting what happened later. This alpha/Dom thing carried over to their day-to-day and other things. All I kept thinking was how selfish he was considering that Blake had just escaped from a very bad marriage. Granted, Miguel didn’t know the circumstances at that point, but it was obvious to all that Blake was not in a good place mentally.
I mention water sports above. You’re not given much warning before it happens, so if it grosses you out, be on the look out for it. It’s not long and drawn-out, but it is there.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I even got kinda/sorta involved in the lives of characters other than Blake and Miguel. While I was confused a lot, I did wonder what would be happening in regards to some of their drama. Believe me, there’s a lot of drama. With Blake and Miguel, I felt that so much emphasis was placed on the top and bottom thing that the actual relationship between the two was kind of put on the back burner. Others might not agree.
There were a few inconsistencies, but nothing that took away from the book as a whole. The sexual situations were written well, though I felt it was all too one-sided. I should also note that there is one hetero sex scene in this book. Not a problem for me at all, but I know that a lot of M/M readers don’t want to see straight sex in their books.
Would I read the books before and after this one? I can’t say for sure at this point. I went into Unsaid wanting to enjoy a nice, hot love story between Blake and Miguel. I ended the book unsure of how I felt about Miguel at all. I got where he was coming from, but that didn’t help me to like him a whole lot. But then again, everything comes together nicely for these guys. I wasn’t a fan of the characters of the next book – Jemma, Luigi and Rocco – in this one, so only time will tell if I read theirs.
This book was provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.