Guest Reviewed by Morgan
Title: Unwrapping Hank
Author: Eli Easton
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Length: 138 Pages
Publisher: Eli Easton
Release Date: November 14, 2014
Available at: Amazon and All Romance eBooks
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Sloane loves a good mystery. He grew up as the son of two psychiatrists, so he finds most people tediously easy to figure out. He finds his way to Pennsylvania State University, longing for a rural experience, and ends up being lured into joining a frat by Micah Springfield, the hippest guy on campus.
Nothing in Sloane’s classes is as intriguing as Hank Springfield, Micah’s brother and fellow frat house member. Hank looks like a tough guy—big muscles, tatts, and a beard—but his eyes are soft and sweet. He acts dumb, but he’s a philosophy major. He’s presumably straight, but then why does Sloane feel such crazy chemistry whenever Hank is around? And why does Hank hate Sloane so much?
When Sloane ends up stuck on campus over Christmas, Micah invites him to spend the holidays at their family farm in Amish country. It’s a chance to experience a true Americana Christmas–and further investigate the mystery that is Hank Springfield. Can Sloane unlock the secrets of this family and unwrap the heart hidden inside the beefcake?
Sloane is the new guy, he just pledged the “Delts” at Micah’s urging. Micah is tragically hip and Sloane kinda admires the guy, so despite his misgivings, he pledges. Surprisingly, it’s not that kind of frat and it really is just a bunch of guys living together and having fun. Phew!
But – Micah has a brother and he’s a frat brother, too – who did not want Sloane to join. Why? Hank just doesn’t like Sloane. So… meddling Micah puts Sloane and Hank together to plan the fraternity’s annual Christmas party.
During that process, Micah, who was already intrigued by Hank, really begins to fall for him. Hank, who didn’t like Sloane, becomes more and more confused by his feelings for Sloane, but he grudgingly begins to sorta, kinda like him until…by accident…Sloane begins to stir something physical in Hank, and Hank does NOT like that feeling, at all.
The party is a huge success, but now Hank and Sloane are back to square one, namely avoidance and awkwardness. When Sloane’s parents flake out and leave him deserted for Christmas, Micah offers their home for the holidays. Though the compassionate side of Hank knows that’s the nice thing to do, the scared and confused part of him wants Sloane far away from him. Reluctantly, he concedes that Sloane should share the holidays with their family rather than being left all alone.
At the Springfield house, many strange facts about Hank come to light, and Sloane becomes even more intrigued and even more infatuated with Hank. Micah stirs the pot by “acting” attracted to Sloane, and Hank identifies this new emotion as jealousy.
Even Hank’s mother seems to push Hank toward Sloane.
But it takes the words of a gay man at a bar and a come-on from an old friend before Hank will finally admit that his feelings toward Sloane are more than friendly.
In a very hot, very touching scene in a barn, we get our HFN that sure looks like it could be a HEA for many Christmases to come.
I am continually amazed by Eli Easton. Everything she writes is so well done, from her story line to her metaphors. Her book, Blame it on the Mistletoe is one of my all-time favorites, and this might just surpass it. It at least comes close. Not only is she good at telling a romantic, heart-tugging story, but she’s funny, and better than that, she’s witty. I love that! She writes with intelligence, heart and humor.
Here are some ways that she demonstrates that writing is about showing and not telling (and her sense of humor):
“I distracted myself from the uncomfortable level of adorbs by getting up and wandering around his room, poking at stuff. Looking for clues.”
“Do you actually see the testosterone pour out of you when you work out, or is it more of a mist?”
“Hank lay there without moving for a minute. I thought he wasn’t going to answer. And if he was asleep, I had a semi that needed to see me in my room forthwith”
“It felt homey in a way my parents’ apartments never had. I soaked in in like lotion on dry skin.”
“The children were still surrounding us like a peaceful version of Children of the Corn. A boy about seven was hanging around Hank’s neck and over the back of the chair as if it were perfectly normal to pretend to be a cape.”
Anyhow, there are lots and lots of these. Phrases that just let you get the picture without tons and tons of explanation. It’s appreciated. She can tell a thousand page story in 50 pages and you still feel the impact.
And she’s really good at building sexual tension. Slowly, over the course of the book, we see Hank begin to accept and unfold and trust his feelings. When he and Sloane do finally get together, it’s natural. There isn’t that stuttering where you (the reader) have to say to yourself – ok, that wouldn’t happen like that, but I get it, this is fiction, so we have to just accept it. Instead, it just fits and makes sense.
The true test of a good book is when you’re mad that it’s over. That fits Eli to a T. Just when Hank and Sloane get together, we have to say good-bye. NOOOOOOO! Let me see more of them – pleeeeeaaase! Ok. That was melodramatic, but really, I would have loved to see more of them as a couple, but that doesn’t take anything away from what she has given us. It’s a wonderful story, and where it ends is lovely. It’s just that she does such a nice job getting us invested in them that I don’t want to let them go.
So… I really, really recommend this book. I just adored it. I can’t wait for the audio version, and I hope she gets Jason Frazier (who narrated Blame it on the Mistletoe) for this as well, I know it will be excellent!
Overall Impression: It was amazing!
*I purchased my own, personal copy of this book for review.*