Reviewed by JustJen
Title: Block and Strike
Author: Kelly Jensen
Heroes: Jacob Kendricks/Maxwell Wilson
Genre: MM Contemporary
Length: 266 Pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: January 6, 2017
Available at: Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Jacob Kendricks is three months out of prison, estranged from his daughter, and ready to get his life on track. Taking care of the bum curled up on his doorstep isn’t part of the plan. When he realizes the man has been assaulted, Jake takes him to the hospital, where he learns that Max is his downstairs neighbor… and that he could really use a friend. Keeping Max in the friend-zone would be easier if he wasn’t so damned cute.
Maxwell Wilson has been bullied for years, and the only person who ever cared lives too far away to come to his rescue. Now his upstairs neighbor is offering support. Max remains cautious, suspecting he is little more than a project for the handsome Jake. When he learns Jake has had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, Max has to reevaluate his priorities—and muster the courage to take a chance at love.
Just when a happy future is within their grasp, life knocks them back down. A devastating blow leaves Max lower than ever and Jake wrestling with regret. They both have to find the strength to stand on their own before they can stand together.
Review: Jacob is trying to put his life back together after doing time in prison for injuring his ex-wife’s loser boyfriend in a fight (thanks, in part, to the ex not standing up for him). Unfortunately, this has also caused a forced separation from his young daughter. He has been working very hard to stay under the radar and not do anything to get into any more trouble. But, when he finds max broken on his stoop, he takes a chance and does the right thing in trying to help the man, only to find out they are actually neighbors.
Max has been bullied most of his life, so this latest attack doesn’t seem any different to him. Lessons handed down from his father and the school bullies trained him that it was quicker and easier to just take it than to stand up and fight. He is also not comfortable with being gay, though he knows deep down that he is.
This is a slow burn, with the guys becoming reluctant friends that grow to rely on one another. When the feelings do become more, they are hesitant to upset the balance they have achieved, so it takes them a awhile to move to the next level. Add to that a few twists, turns and secrets, and things get more interesting.
I really liked these guys. They were exactly what each other needed. Jacob got a pretty bum wrap but is making strides to get back on track. Through his past experiences, he has an understanding of what Max is going through, and I loved watching them finally let each other be there for and provide exactly what was needed. It takes some creativeness on Jake’s part to win Max’s trust, but it is worth it in the end.
I enjoyed the dual POVs in this story, as it showed each side of the struggle well and helped give the characters more depth. This was a well-paced story that kept my interest, and while it had a satisfactory ending, I really would have liked to have seen how these guys made out a little further down the road. Block and Strike was my first book by Ms. Jensen, but I will definitely be on the lookout for more of her books.
Overall Impression: I really liked it!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*