About the Book
Title: Could You Love an Apple?
Author: Becky Jerams
Length: 546 pages
Release Date: February 20, 2017
Categories: Contemporary, MM, New Adult, YA, humor
Taylor Raven is starting over.
After a few difficult college years, he has decided to finally move away from Havensdale (and away from his father) to take a tennis coaching course in the tiny village of Westerfield.
The peaceful country life is exactly what Taylor needs to get away from it all. However, it is also incredibly lonely living by himself in the middle of nowhere. And no matter how far he runs, Taylor just can’t seem to escape the mistakes of his past.
As he struggles to find any kind of meaningful connection, he comes across a place on the outskirts of the village that will soon change everything. The Apple Inn – a pub run by a curious, slightly eccentric family who welcome Taylor into their world with open arms.
Soon Taylor finds his guard dropping, particularly around the kind and fun-loving son of the family, Benjamin Apple. But the closer Taylor gets, the more he feels compelled to pull away…
Can Taylor ever fall in love again when the one obstacle in his way… is himself?
I was ridiculously excited to read this book, as it’s the sequel to Reasons to Love a Nerd Like Me (which I adored). As far as the writing style, plot, and characters go, this was an excellent follow up.
Although I didn’t care for Taylor Raven in the first book, I was still glad to see him get a second chance. I also love the theme here, that people can and do change. Taylor is as prickly as ever, but he’s also carrying around a lot of baggage. He doesn’t quite know what he needs until he finds it in the form of Benjamin Apple.
There aren’t words for how much I love Benjamin. He’s thoroughly delightful in every way. I like that they don’t just jump into an instant love connection and that it’s through Benjamin’s friendship, not only his romantic love, that Taylor begins to open himself to the possibility of a “chosen family.” Of course, it’s icing on the cake that they’re so perfectly suited for each other as boyfriends, too.
The writing style is tight, and the humor is exactly what I love: a little snarky and sarcastic, but also with affection and warmth underneath. That was my favorite thing about the first book, and I’m glad to see that tone continues here.
I had two really big reservations, which I’m going to detail here. The first isn’t really a spoiler, but the second is. When Taylor and Benjamin are intimate with each other, I saw some red flags in the area of consent as well as what constitutes “real sex.” I could have lived with Taylor’s internal dialog about it. He didn’t want to be the receptive partner because of the messages received from his father. I also could buy that as a nineteen-year-old with limited experience he might insist that “real sex” involved penetration. But Benjamin was perfectly suited, by his personality and his maturity about sex, to dispel these notions–yet he didn’t. In fact, they went right to penetrative sex after only one prior intimate encounter, and without any added discussion or working up to it if that’s what they both wanted. That was deeply, deeply disappointing to me. I had the same reaction when they were coupled and Taylor referred to it as being the closest they could be. Penetration was repeatedly referred to as their “first time” (it wasn’t), and they had precisely zero sex other than what was politely referred to as “fumbles” versus “going all the way” (somewhat outdated language). The whole thing hit me wrong in how it was presented. This is not a good message to send to the young adult and older teen readers of this book. Nor is it good to make it clear that penetrative sex equates to adulthood or couplehood, that one’s reservations about it are to be ignored and not worked through, or that it’s somehow wrong to find other ways to be intimate. This is where an author really does have a responsibility to the readership.
My other hesitation was in how the situation with Taylor’s father was resolved. This contains spoilers, so highlight to read. After the big blow-up, Benjamin’s father tells Taylor to go after his father and make the first move toward repairing their relationship. This would be less troubling if he had first checked to make sure Taylor was all right and allowed him space to recover. But this pressure is found throughout, between Benjamin coming off as not quite believing Taylor’s father had abused him and then here, where they seem far more concerned that Taylor’s father might leave before Taylor could be nice to him. It is not the responsibility, ever, for someone who has been abused to make things right. It’s a personal choice and one that shouldn’t be pushed, certainly not before the person has had some professional help. Again, I cannot see this as something that a young person reading this book should have to absorb. It could possibly be re-traumatizing for a person whose parents are abusive. It’s a deeply irresponsible burden to place on a person barely into adulthood.
For those two reasons, I feel really uncomfortable recommending this to emerging adults. I would love to be able to, as I think the themes of personal growth and chosen family are wonderful. But it would need to come with a heavy warning that the above messages are not healthy or appropriate.
That said, I can still highly recommend this for fans of MM romance in general. For those with enough experience to dismiss the aforementioned messages, it’s also a great read. Everything else about this book is spot on and pitch-perfect, right down to the absolutely stellar handling of the big blow-up between Taylor and pretty much the entire supporting cast. Despite my reservations, I still found the story delightful. I am one hundred percent certain I could love an Apple.
For lovable characters, solid writing, and a whole lot of fun, this gets 8/10 fountain pens.
About the Author