Dana reviews Temptation University by Mark A. Roeder (audio release: June 3, 2014, narrated by Robert G. Davis, 10 hours 13 minutes length. ebook self published October 11, 2011, 316 pages)
Brendan is beginning his college football career at Indiana University in Bloomington, but his relationship with his high-school-age boyfriend, Casper, is strained. Brendan knew parting from Casper would be tough, but he didn’t count on the temptations of a major Midwestern university. He’s surrounded by hot young men and the hottest of them all is his very own teammate and the quarterback of the IU football team, Gabrial Diaddio. Brendan knows he’s in trouble the moment his eyes fall on Gabrial. When Gabrial begins to pursue him, Brendan’s troubles only deepen and he begins to wonder if he should keep up his long distance relationship with Casper or free himself to explore the sexy, college boys who surround and entice him.
Marc is bold, openly gay, and still in high school, but when he meets Dorian his confidence in his ability to be himself is shaken. Marc is a skater and soccer jock. Dorian is incredibly sexy and cute, but he’s also stereotypically gay. Marc finds himself drawn to Dorian, but when Marc’s team-mates give him a hard time about his new “girlfriend” he has second thoughts. Should he suffer the taunts and ridicule of his teammates or push Dorian away to protect his reputation as a jock?
I received a audio copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The narration: Sometimes with a narrator you can hear youth or older age, in their voice, but I couldn’t tell with this narrator. Though Robert G. Davis didn’t necessarily have a young voice it didn’t feel out of place listening to the story about a couple of college and high school boys. The narrator enunciated well and his voice held an innocent feeling when he spoke, making it appropriate for the storyline. However, there was not much difference between the tones or accents he uses for the two different characters the POV is told from, and it was confusing at times.
The story: Along with the unvaried narration, there were a few other things that confused me. There were characters with similar names (Brendan and Brandon) and two with the same name, Marc. (One of them is mentioned several times throughout the book, but he had passed away prior to this story). I actually stopped listening and shelved it for a short while. Later, when I started it over, I was either able to concentrate better, or was more experienced in listening to audiobooks. The difficulties I had prior, didn’t seem to be an issue anymore.
The two main characters in this story that the POVs come from are not a couple. Marc and Brendan attended the same high school in small town, Indiana. Brendan is graduating and heading to college and Marc is still there for another year. It’s a story of Brendan’s struggles the following fall, being parted from Casper, the boyfriend he lived with, and the temptations in college of other men and abstinence after having constant access to Casper. Marc struggles with falling for another high school boy that doesn’t fit the image of his usual crushes and hookups. For him the temptations lie in denying his feelings especially when the femininity of Dorian is remarked on by his soccer teammates.
I appreciated the growth that Marc experiences and the support from his friends in accepting his feelings and loving someone for who they are and not what they look like. I could empathize with Brendan especially since Gabrial, his teammate, actively pursues him, and at how hard it is to stay faithful to Casper. I cringed every time it seemed that the temptations were too much, between Gabrial’s attentions and the warnings he receives from many fellow students that long distance relationships don’t work.I didn’t want to see him hurt Casper, not just because Casper seems really sweet, but because it is obvious hurting his boyfriend would destroy Brendan. Just as it seems it is inevitable, he finds support in an unlikely ally. I liked the way it ended, but the book only spans about 5 months and ends in October of Brendan’s freshman year at college and Marc’s senior year of high school.. That is still a lot of time in which Brendan’s will could get weak, especially since Casper is only a junior in high school.
Besides Brendan, Casper, Mark and Dorian, there are several other gay couples that make appearances in this story and several heterosexual friends that form a big support system. I found them all to be interesting, and when I peeked at the author’s website, I saw that there were many books by this author featuring the same small town of Indiana, the same town the university is in, and many of the same recurring characters. And though I struggled the very first time listening to this, I truly enjoyed this story the second time around, and hope to read or listen to more books by this author soon. It shows that sometimes second chances are important. I would have hated to miss this awesome bit of storytelling.
9/10 pots of gold
About the author:
To know me, all you really need to do is read my books. I’m in there. I grew up in the country in southern Indiana, near small towns that were much like the fictional Verona that appears in my books. The high school I attended was very much like Verona High School. We had no openly gay boys in my school, but there was much prejudice and hate against homosexuals. Being called “gay” or “fag” was about the worst insult that could be hurled at anyone. I have no doubt that many of the fictional scenes in my book could well have happened in my old high school. All of Indiana tends to be fairly conservative and anyone who does not fit in the narrow mold of normalcy is largely considered an outcast. Being “outed” in my high school would have meant both being exposed, and being excluded, even exiled if you will.
I lived for a while in a small town in northern Indiana that is little different from the towns near where I grew up. Verona is a composite of all these towns. It is a town that could be located just about anywhere in the U.S., not just in Indiana. A few years ago I returned to my hometown in southern Indiana.
I get a lot of questions about whether or not my characters are based upon me. In many ways they are, especially those found in “The Soccer Field Is Empty”. Both Mark and Taylor were very much based upon myself, so much so that in early drafts they were far too much alike. I ended up splitting my personality between them, giving Mark my more confident and determined side and Taylor my more thoughtful and sensitive side. When you read the thoughts and feelings of these two boys, you are reading about me. I think every author puts much of himself in his characters. Most of what I am and believe can be found in my novels. Just about every single character has a touch of me in him.
I am a full time writer and plan to keep on writing novels until I’m no longer able to do so. There are always new characters and situations to explore. I’ve received a lot of letters from young and not so young gays telling me how much my books have touched them. It is for these individuals, and myself, that I write.