Bad Boyfriend by K.A. Mitchell
Part of the “Bad in Baltimore” series, which is loosely related and stands alone.
Publication date: December 6, 2011
Format: ebook only at this time, multiple formats available
Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book from the author, but have also purchased my own copy as well (it was pre-ordered well in advance).
After Eli Wright came out, his parents threw him out. In the five years since, he’s made his own way, lived by his own rules, determined to never change himself—not for anyone. He’s not against finding Mr. Right, but Mr. Right Now will do just fine.
Quinn Maloney’s reward for ten years of faithfully keeping his closeted boyfriend’s secrets? A hell of a wake-up call to go with his morning coffee. Not only did Peter have affairs, he went straight to marry his pregnant girlfriend—and Quinn was to never reveal their history.
With the baby’s baptism looming and Quinn expected to put on a polite front, he decides he’s had enough of playing the peacekeeper. One wink from a much younger, eyeliner-wearing guy in a bar, and Quinn’s found a perfectly outrageous date for the occasion.
The date goes better than he ever imagined. And so much worse, as Eli convinces everyone they’re madly in love. That wasn’t part of the plan, but the more Quinn learns about the man behind the makeup, the more he wishes it was true.
Cover art: The models in the cover art actually look more or less as I imagined Quinn and Eli. Even the body language is right, especially Eli’s chin up posture. And I love the view of Baltimore’s harbor in the bottom of the frame. While it isn’t a part of the city that gets a lot of page space, the scenes set there are important to the book.
What did I think? When I first read the book, I just wanted to squee all over the place about it – I’m far from being an impartial reader, because I’ve enjoyed nearly everything K.A. Mitchell has published, and also because I love that the book is set in my adopted hometown. Add in the characters who clicked and a plot that hovered between angst and a sort of category-like drama, and I was hooked.
Eli and Quinn are such opposites in many ways – semi-closeted because of the ex vs. vociferously out; former naval officer turned teacher vs. unemployed freelance photographer; suburban vs. urban; family oriented vs. family alienated. And yet they get each other, inside the bedroom and out.
The major conflict of the story centers around Quinn’s continued relationship with his ex’s family. On the surface it seems a little peculiar until readers (and Eli) learn that he was essentially abandoned by his own distant family when he went off to the Naval Academy, and the ex’s family has become the de facto family he refuses to give up despite the ex’s behavior and the bizarre attempt everyone makes to keep the Big Gay Secret from the new wife. Eli, having been thrown out by his egg and sperm donors, grasps the concept of the family you build in lieu of the family you are born to, but has a much more pragmatic and defensive posture about letting people in. Both of them tip-toe around their relationship, each trying to make sure the other really wants to stay because one is accustomed to being left or left behind and the other accustomed to being tossed out; both of them bumble and fumble, leading to the Big Mis, which is resolved and followed by the HFN/HEA.
There’s a fair amount of sex in the book, which is standard for Mitchell, but none of it feels extraneous. In the beginning, it’s how Eli and Quinn communicate best, and as they get to know each other better outside the bedroom, it gets hotter.
Readers who enjoyed Bad Company will get to see glimpses of Nate and Kellan here, since they are part of the family Eli builds for himself.
Would highly recommend Bad Boyfriend, and also hope that Mitchell writes more set here among these characters. I’m not sure I’d believe any attempted redemption of the arse of an ex, although I would try it, and there’s a secondary character named Jamie (Marine friend of Quinn’s) who could be a future hero, maybe? *hinthint*
And because I feel like sharing, here’s one of my favorite passages:
“Get off me, Quinn. I swear you two fucking deserve each other.”
“Wait. I’m trying to follow this.”
It burst out of Eli, no calculation, no aim. He slammed the heels of his hands on Quinn’s shoulders. Breath whooshed out of their chests as Eli twisted and rolled and dumped them onto the floor. He glared down into Quinn’s surprised face. How could anyone be this stupid? Eli hated being right all the time. The hottest sex in the world wasn’t worth dealing with how blind this guy was. And Eli still opened his mouth to explain it to him.
“What can’t you follow? He fucked around on you. He left you. For a woman. He killed your dog. Now he fucks around on his wife and shoves it in your face because the whole damned family’s got you by the balls. And I don’t know why I give a flying fuck, but I can’t watch it anymore. Now get out of my life.” Eli rolled off, panting.
Quinn sat up. “Christ, what an arrogant little shit you are.” He loomed over him, jaw hard, lips thin. “If you weren’t in the middle of a tantrum, maybe you could understand how much crap just came flying at my head.”
“Just now? Quinn, that baby didn’t spring out of thin air. It’s been a year.”
“Shut up for a second. If that’s possible. Maybe what I was trying to follow was how I could have lived with him for ten years and not seen him. Maybe what I was trying to understand was why a guy who claimed to be straight except for me is chasing dick all of a sudden.” Quinn’s hands shot out to capture Eli’s face. His grip was solid, voice a harsh whisper. “But none of that fucking matters because I can’t stop being pissed about you going to Grand Central when I want you for myself.” (Kindle Locations 2025-2039).