Published by Samhain Publishing Genres: Contemporary, Gay
Reviewed by Cassie
Meeting the family shouldn’t be this complicated. As the designated slacker of the family, Peter Stevens was accustomed to being eclipsed by his “perfect” older brother, Mark. But when Mark came out to their parents one Christmas vacation, it was his turn to be the black sheep. Even more surreal was Peter’s brief encounter with his brother’s boyfriend, Colin. The unmistakable sparks between them shook the foundations of his confirmed heterosexuality. Years later, when they meet again as graduate student and professor, that bone-deep attraction is still there. Thanks to the emotional scars Mark left behind, Colin has had his fill of Stevens men. Having Peter at his university shouldn’t be a problem though, as he knows the younger man is straight. But when Colin realizes the electricity sizzles both ways, he can’t resist indulging in a passionate affair. Yet some old flames stubbornly refuse to die. This time, Peter refuses to step aside—and when an emergency brings the family together again, Colin must decide if it’s worth the risk to trust another Stevens brother with his heart. Warning: This book contains an adorable professor who gets invited home for a very complicated holiday, a perfect relationship with “Mr. Right”, and a dangerous crush on “Mr. Wrong”.
The night his brother, Mark, comes out to their parents makes a huge impression on Peter Stevens. He’s used to being the slacker who’s always in trouble. For once, perfect Mark is the one who’s on the outs with the parents. After an unpleasant scene, Mark and his boyfriend are allowed to stay one night, but only in separate rooms. Peter’s conversation with Mark’s boyfriend, Colin, gives him a lot to think about. So much so that he stays in touch with Colin even after Mark dumps the man.
Colin has moved on with his life after Mark. He’s got a job he loves as a college professor, a nice apartment, and good friends. Giving Peter a place to stay for a bit while he looks for more permanent grad-school housing shouldn’t be a problem. Except it brings Mark back into his life, and living together reveals an unwelcome attraction to Peter. Colin’s best bet would be to be done with both Stevens brothers, but his heart doesn’t seem to be on board with that plan. When the attraction turns out to be mutual, will Colin get his heart broken by another Stevens brother?
Sibling Rivals was surprisingly less angsty than I expected it to be. A lot of that was because of Peter. He’s a bit younger than Colin, and somewhat immature and flighty, but he knows that. He’s been denying same-sex attractions for a while, and his initial reaction to Colin is unexpected, but not entirely shocking. Still, when he asks to crash at Colin’s for a bit while looking for somewhere to live, he doesn’t expect to feel anything but friendship. The jealousy he feels toward his brother, who suddenly wants to get Colin back, is unexpected. So is the tension between them. Rather than freaking out, he rolls with it, initiating a very hot kiss.
Colin’s already been heartbroken courtesy of one Stevens brother. He has no interest in converting the straight one. Avoiding Peter seems to be the best plan, until Peter calls him on it. Then he switches to an attempt at friendship. Even that backfires, as he only likes Peter more. When Peter kisses him, he’s hesitant at first, but agrees to see how things go. From then on, everything seems to be going well, until terrible news for the Stevens brothers threatens to tear them apart.
I enjoyed Sibling Rivals. Happy-go-lucky Peter is the opposite of Colin (and of me, actually), but I liked him. He could be immature at times, and sometimes I got frustrated with him, yet I admired the way he was able to come to terms with his sexuality without freaking out. Colin is a lot more controlled. He’s careful, and likes to take care of others. He’s a good match for flighty Peter. The secondary characters weren’t as likable. I wanted to kick Peter’s selfish brother, Mark. His bigoted mother and none-too-friendly father weren’t easy to like either, although I felt like his dad showed some real growth near the end. Peter grew as well, learning that he couldn’t keep coasting through life. Even so, I didn’t feel like he changed quite enough, and I felt Colin was too quick to let things slide.