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Book Review: Social Skills by Sara Alva

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It has long been accepted that opposites attract. Two individuals, who appear to have nothing in common on the surface, invariably end up sharing a connection that defies either logic or understanding. This is certainly the case for college students Connor and Jared in Social Skills, a spicy and heartwarming novel by Sara Alva. A romance between an introverted violinist and a jock shouldn’t work, and yet, against the odds, it does.

Connor has never fitted in. His painful shyness, and the anxiety that paralyses him when confronted with any social situation, have always prevented him from making friends at school. The only form of communication at which he excels is music.

With his precious violin in his hands, he is able to express himself without words. As expected, however, college turns out to be yet another ordeal. Beyond Rebecca, his bohemian stand partner in the college orchestra, Connor has little to do with his fellow students, and resigns himself to remaining on the edge of things, spending his time studying alone.

All at once, his solitary existence is shattered when he’s assigned to tutor Jared, a devastatingly handsome footballer. Jared is everything Connor isn’t—popular, outgoing, and self-assured. Still, for some reason Connor can’t fathom, Jared seems to like him. More than like him, in fact.

As the two embark on a passionate but secret love affair, Connor discovers the joys of physical and emotional intimacy with another person. With this newfound happiness, however, comes the fear. Jared is reluctant to tell the world about his sexuality, and even if he were to come out, would he really want to tie himself to a social outcast like Connor?

Much as the romance between Connor and Jared is extremely touching, the truly wonderful aspect of this novel is the character development. With the help of both Jared and Rebecca, Connor slowly finds the courage to emerge from his protective shell.

From the reclusive boy we’re introduced to at the start of the story, who is thrown into a panic by the mere prospect of conversing with strangers, he grows into a young man with his own group of friends and the quiet confidence to be himself. As a shy person, I found this both poignant and incredibly inspirational.

If you’re seeking a New Adult romance that offers just the right balance of heat and tenderness, I can certainly recommend this book.

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About Jamie Deacon

I’m an aspiring author of gay romances for young adults, writing novels where boys battle the odds to find love, acceptance, and their place in the world. My passion for the genre of m/m YA fiction inspired me to create the Boys on the Brink blog, where I share book reviews, author interviews, giveaways, and more… As well as being an avid reader and writer, I love going for long walks with our crazy Staffordshire bull terrier, supporting Liverpool Football Club, attending shows (especially musicals) at the theatre, and curling up on the sofa on winter’s nights with a mug of hot chocolate and some reality TV.