Better Sorry Than Safe by esyoung

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Title: Better Sorry than Safe

Author: esyoung

Genre: Teen Fiction

Tags Used: boyxboy, bxb, closeted, college, completed, fiction, freethelgbt, gay, highschool, lgbt, lgbtq, love, malexmale, romance, slash, talkthepoc, teen, teenfic


Every Tuesday during football practice, sixteen year old Sem Bolton finds himself stealing glances at the gorgeous college boy jogging down the path next to the fields. He was his dirty little secret. His guilty pleasure. His unobtainable fantasy: safe and distant on the other side of the chainlink fence.

Then, through a series of unpleasant events including being forced on a camping trip, it turns out his unobtainable fantasy is not so unobtainable after all. Not only is gorgeous college boy gay as well, he also wants to date Sem.

Now, Sem was never one to play it safe. But outing himself was in a whole different league than testing his mother's patience or taking hits in the boxing ring. Was he really ready to date a guy, all consequences included? As if internal struggles weren't enough, count on girls, friends, and an estranged brother, to complicate stuff even further.


Better Sorry Than Safe, or BSTS as it is affectionately known by its many fans, is the compelling coming-out story told through the eyes of an endearingly reckless teen, Sem Bolton. From the succinctly worded blurb which tells just enough of the trials and temptations that await the reader upon further perusal; to the first sentence, "He was watching", the novel manages to push the hook, line and sinker right down the throat of LGBT romance lovers.

The cover itself, although simple in its minimalistic design, is clear in its subject, with the silhouette of two young male's head profiles acting as the main image. The title itself is bold, easy to read, and denotes a story filled with choices that go against traditional, conservative thinking. Very subject and plot appropriate.

The tags have been chosen with the intent of attracting readers, but also with a sense of relevance in mind; there are no tags on the story, that are not related to its content. The use of media in this story was limited mostly to stylish page dividers, which made the time sequences easier to understand than stories that lack these multi-media devices.

The appeal of this story lies in the flawless character development. Sem Bolton is a memorable character, his sexuality challenged by prejudice he risks facing from friends, family and at times, even his own romantic interest.

Going against the grain of many LGBT novels that feature gay male relationships, this casts the main couple in an equally masculine light, playing on the concept of the characters defining their relationship, rather than vice versa. With the main plot based around Sem and his (spoiler) eventual boyfriend, Connor, subplots concerning sibling rivalry, heterosexual relationships, peer pressure and also parental expectations regarding academics and sporting achievements, are also woven into the main stem. This makes the story robust and exciting to read throughout.

The flow of the overall book does a marvelous job in avoiding jarring the reader, with the third person POV centered on Sem's vantage point.

Having spoken with the author, I'm aware that she completed this book in her third language, hence the reason for occasional word-tense errors, and she is currently editing the work however, and although obvious to picky readers, in general these simple mistakes do not overly detract from the overall flow of the story. 

Although this work is not written in my first genre of choice, after being asked to critique the story for the first five chapters, I couldn't resist coming back to finish the novel off as soon as I found free time. That speaks volumes in of itself. It is for this reason, that I would recommend this work to anyone searching for a well developed romance, that is open to reading this sub-genre.

Reviewer: JettaFrame

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