Block and Strike by Kelly Jensen: Release Day Review

block-and-strikesynopsisJacob 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.

Title: Block and Strike
Author: Kelly Jensen
Release Date: January 6, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 266

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Shew, this story was an emotional rollercoaster…
First, I should say that there will most likely be mild spoilers, because that’s just how I do it. So, prepare.
Jake is fresh out of jail; not wanting to mess up, not wanting to call attention to himself and only worried about himself and when he can see the daughter his ex-wife won’t let him see when he finds a drunk guy passed out on his door-step…. Only this isn’t a drunk guy passed out and covered in vomit and urine, it’s a guy so beat up and left for dead, he doesn’t even recognize that it’s the man who lives downstairs; Max.
Max is so beat down by life. Used to being shuffled around, neglected, beat up and abused; he’s just a hot mess. He flinches at his own shadow and doesn’t have any self-worth at all. He’s trying, but life just keeps on knocking him down. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time has him victim to another beating and thankfully, Jake is there to help him out, even if he does have trouble accepting.
Jake has secrets though, several of them and Max wants to run every time he finds out a new one. I’d say none of them are really terrible. I think Jake has a problem with his anger, but I can’t at all blame him a bit for any of it. In a way I even hated how he made up with the ex and the guy that sent him to prison because every bit of it was their fault. You tell a man that loves you, that your boyfriend beat you up and he DOESN’T come over and give him a taste of his own medicine, that man, isn’t a man… At least in my opinion… Had it been one of my three brothers, my dad or my husband, any man puts his hands on me; he’ll be eating his meals through a straw for the foreseeable future… So, I didn’t hold that against him and I’m glad Max didn’t either.
I loved these two together. It took a while for Max to trust and rightfully so…. then it took a bit for them to admit their attraction for one another, but once they did; I was glad it progressed the way it did. Jake was patient and understanding; he didn’t push or expect too much and you could feel how much he cared about Max from the beginning; how he does things to get him to open himself up to new things, like taking him to the dojo and helping him learn self-confidence and having him meet accepting and considerate people.
I loved Jake’s family. They were great and accepting and they took to Max with open arms; which was awesome, because his dad seemed terrible, even though we thankfully never met him and Max’s mom had passed away and that still hit him hard. I wished that he had closure on what she meant because as a mother, I’d like to think she didn’t mean what he thought she meant. I do wish his dad would have gotten the karmatic beat down that he deserved though.
I also loved that Jake called Max beautiful. Sappy but true, I felt like not only was it sweet but I felt like Max needed that. Overall, this was a pretty angsty read, not too much, but enough to have me flipping pages like crazy to see what happened next… and then I was extremely happy with the ending. I wouldn’t mind reading more about these two and their families.
4 pieces of eye candy for me.

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