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Book Review: Growing Strong, by B.L. Dayhoff

Growing Strong 2

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A chance—and embarrassing—encounter brings Hunter and Chase together, but it’s patience and kindness that keep them there. Through a slow-blossoming friendship and a series of misunderstandings, Hunter finds himself fighting an attraction he thinks isn’t returned. But with the help of his roommate, Tony, he may just be able to make the leap and confess his feelings.

But love isn’t Hunter’s only concern. With his sister’s upcoming nuptials, he also must learn to face a family that hasn’t quite disowned him for his sexuality. With Chase by his side, it’s going to take strength for Hunter to stand up for himself and to hold on to what really matters.

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Book – Growing Strong

Author – B.L. Dayhoff

Star rating – ★★★★★

No. of Pages – 185

Cover – Nice

POV – 3rd person, past tense, 1 POV

Would I read it again – Yes

Genre – LGBT, Contemporary, Romance

** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **

Reviewed for Divine Magazine

This was such a cute story!

The pain of being disowned and separated from family, because of homophobia, was handled so delicately but honestly. Although there were moments of lightness, when things looked up, there was also the manipulation, the distance, the ignorance and the name calling to deal with. At no point did the author take it too far, though they still managed to get the seriousness of the situation across, as well as how seriously it affected Hunter.

For this reason, I really love the title. I mean, there isn’t anything that describes this story better than the title, because it’s exactly what Hunter does. With Chase’s help, he grows into a much stronger person and is finally able to do what he’s always wanted to do – stand up for himself.

I really grew attached to Hunter quickly. I mean, right from the start, he was a bit of a pathetic character – a loner, locked inside his own head, made physically ill by interactions with his family and terrified of being himself. But, slowly, he began to find his way and I loved him all the more for it. His struggles were read, as were his interactions and the misunderstandings. Sometimes, relationship dramas are over exaggerated, but the way his friendship with Chase and Tony worked, everything was reasonable, rational and never became a massive issue that began to look ridiculous. Unlike some other stories, where characters have massive misunderstandings and it’s never resolved until the end, Hunter and Chade talked! I mean, it sounds ridiculous to say, but they encountered a problem, then they sucked up their pride and talked about it. It was perfect and real.

I loved meddling Tony and his cheery, fun loving disposition. Chase may have, though, been my favourite character. Probably tied with Hunter. The two together were such geeks, messed up and needing each other badly, but also really heart warming and relateable. I also really liked that Chase wasn’t your typical jock MC top; he was a bit of a slut, sure, but he accepted that and accepted Hunter for who he was. Together they balanced each other perfectly.

Their awkward conversations, their obsessions, their fights and all the little things that made them tick as individuals and as a couple, were just brilliant. Their entire relationship was refreshing.

Negatives? Well, Hunter is a writer and my copy – an ARC, so I didn’t count any of this towards my rating – doesn’t have a separation between his writing and the story. No spaces or Italics and sometimes it was confusing about which of the two stories I was reading. I do, however, love when Hunter makes a mistake in his story, by claiming something that he’s already proven to be untrue, and the author actually bothers to mention that he spotted it and edited the story to remove the mistake. That’s great attention to detail, right there.

Also, I actually really liked Erik and Sean’s relationship and their story. It would have been nice to have that rounded off a little more, but it was cute.

Oh, and there was some 18+ material in there, but there’s nothing too explicit. Definitely no on page sex. But, for me, that worked for this story and these characters. I thought it was done really well.

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Overall, a refreshing glimpse into the lives of two twenty-somethings, who are having a hard time finding their place in the world. One confident, the other full of doubt and self loathing, it’s not an easy road for them to meet and become friends, but it’s well worth it. Despite the abrupt ending – I wanted more! – the story had a really adorable HEA and gave me everything I needed from these characters.

Funny, heart warming, sweet and cute, there was enough drama and romance to keep me turning page after page.

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Favourite Quote

“Manuel was gorgeous. Sexy, buff, and nice, too. Hunter? Hunter was friend material. But hey, he always had Erik and his right hand.”

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