Book Reviews

Imitation of Life (Rock Bottom 2) by Felice Stevens

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 19-November-2019

Book Blurb

Benny DeMarco is the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. He works hard, takes care of his little sister, and pays the bills. Childhood bullies and an abusive stepfather invade his dreams, and at times he wishes life would grant him a do-over. Would he like a boyfriend? You bet. But Benny knows love isn’t for him. He’s been looked over, looked through, and looked past all his life. Even worse, the one guy he’s been in love with for almost two years is the biggest flirt who will sleep with anyone. Anyone except Benny.

Gino Acosta smiles to keep from crying. Everyone he meets tells him he’s beautiful and sexy, but Gino knows the truth. His outside may be perfect, but inside he feels dirty and unworthy. Bounced around as a child, he yearns for someone to love and a family to call his own. He hops from man to man, desperate to belong, believing the lies he’s told, but all he finds is a body for an hour or two. Things would be so different if only he knew—the man he’s searching for is waiting for him, right under his nose.

Benny starts dating the “perfect guy”and it’s okay if there’s no spark—that’ll happen eventually. Won’t it? Gino’s fast-paced modeling career has taken off, but once again, he’s trading his body for a dream. When Gino’s world explodes, Benny must fight for what and who he really wants. Gino must learn to trust what people tell him—that he’s got so much more to offer than a pretty face and a moment of pleasure.

If all your life you believe you’re nothing, how do you move past heartbreak and hardship to reach for everything?

Book Review

“The weakest version of the real you is stronger than the best imitation of someone else.” ~ Joanna Davidson Politano, Finding Lady Enderly

People who have been abused and bullied have distorted views of the world. They have been told so many times that they aren’t worth anything that, after a while, they believe it. Benny and Gino, of ‘Imitation of Life’ by Felice Stevens, are two such men. Yet they deal with their trauma in completely different ways.

Benny is determined not to be like the people who hurt him. He is a responsible, sensible person. What has kept him motivated is that he has a little sister to love and protect. In spite of their not so perfect circumstances, he is determined to give her the best life he can. Therefore, he sacrifices his whole life in order to devote himself to her happiness. He has been in love with Gino for two years, but, because of his inferiority complex, believes that he has nothing to offer the sexy, flirty Gino, who can have anyone he wants. Benny settles for being good friends with him instead. It’s pure torture to watch Gino flirt and hook up with anyone who asks, but he feels he has no choice but to endure it. Benny would love it if he could have more, but has no hope of ever being more than friends.

Gino, on the other hand, has no one to care for him or to care for. He is lost in a sea of self-doubt and feelings of worthlessness but, to compensate, he pretends to be happy and carefree, while having very little self-respect. He would love to have someone to be with, but does not feel worthy of doing so. Gino thinks that his body and his looks are all he has going for him, therefore, he doesn’t even try to do more. He has feelings for Benny and values his friendship, but has no idea how Benny really feels. For that matter, even if he knew, he would never make a move because he doesn’t feel worthy of someone as good as Benny.

After waiting so long for Gino to come around, Benny has just about given up on ever having a relationship, until a young man, Spencer, comes into his life and wants to date him. He is the perfect person to be his boyfriend, but the problem is, Benny is so deeply in love with Gino that he can’t feel what he should for anyone else. In the middle of their date, Gino calls him. He is more distraught than Benny has ever heard him. Benny is really afraid for him but doesn’t know what to do with his date. Fortunately, the nice guy really is a “nice guy”. Spencer tells Benny that it’s clear that Gino is the one he loves and that they are only going to be friends. Then, Spencer tells Benny that he needs to go check up on Gino and offers to go with him.

I loved Benny, but try as I may, I never warmed up to Gino. I felt sorry for him and all he’d gone through, but I was so proud of Benny’s perseverance despite his trauma that Gino’s method of coping paled in comparison. Considering their backgrounds, it’s a small miracle that they were able to finally appreciate themselves and each other. Although I enjoyed book one more, this is still an intense story continuing the theme of the healing power of love. Thanks, Felice, I am looking forward to the next volume in the series.





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Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 301 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 16-August-2019
Price $3.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
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