The Other Brother
Publication date: January 12th 2022
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQ+, New Adult, Romance, Young Adult
What happens when you fall for the one person you can’t have?
Ryan has had seventeen years of being compared to Cody, part of his toxic fractured family, so you’ll forgive him for some epic eye-rolling when it comes to Mr Perfect. Although not related to him by blood, Cody has always been annoying background noise in Ryan’s life. It doesn’t help that Cody’s a high achieving musician, while Ryan’s life ambition doesn’t extend past catching the next wave.
One summer changes everything. It’s the summer when circumstances collide, and Cody and Ryan end up spending time together at Cody’s family’s beach house. It’s the summer Ryan teaches Cody to surf and Cody teaches Ryan to play guitar. It’s the summer when they become friends.
And then more than friends.
But when summer ends, Cody and Ryan are forced back to reality, where they must hide their relationship from their warring family members. And as tragedy strikes and family secrets buried deep in the past worm their way to the surface, their relationship is threatened. Can their feelings, which began in the summer sun, survive the winter ahead?
Note: This coming-of-age story contains sexual content.
The next day I’m out surfing early. The waves are gentler today, and while the rides aren’t as intense, it’s crazy-cool being out with the early sun glinting off the water and the fresh salt air giving my nostrils a spring clean.
I’m about to head in when I notice a lone runner on the beach. As the figure draws closer, I recognize the lean build and curly hair.
Okay, so maybe I time my exit from the water so I intercept him. But hey, it’s a long, lonely fifty-feet walk back to the house. It’s natural to want some company.
Cody stops at the start of the path, leaning forward to rest his hands on his legs as he recovers his breath. He’s wearing a close-fitting T-shirt that shows off his biceps.
“Hey.” Yep, I should win awards for the most original opening line. I stand there, dripping in my wetsuit, sand caking my feet.
“Hey,” he pants. He straightens and pulls up his T-shirt to wipe his forehead, giving me a view of his muscled, tanned stomach.
“Heading back to the house now?” I keep my voice casual.
“I’ll be your security detail if you want.”
“Thanks, there are lots of bandits in the dunes,” he says in such a deadpan voice that it takes me a few seconds to realize he’s joking.
“Gotta watch out for those bandits.” My reply is a few seconds too late and a few levels too feeble as I step into stride next to him. The sandy path cuts through the dunes.
“So, do you surf?” I ask.
“Nah, I’ve never learned.”
“You spend your summers here, and you’ve never learned to surf?”
I snort. Making sure as much derision as possible is contained in the snort.
Cody raises his eyebrow. “Bodyboarding doesn’t cut it with you?”
“Nah. It’s like saying Jimi Hendrix and Justin Bieber are both equal musicians. Or… like Mozart and whoever was the crappy but popular composer back in his time.”
“I get the Jimi Hendrix/Bieber comparison,” Cody says. “You don’t need to put it into classical music terms.”
“That’s good, because I don’t know shit about classical music,” I say. “You dig Hendrix?”
“I play a few songs of his. Mainly on the guitar.”
“You play guitar as well?”
“Yeah. You ever played an instrument?”
“Does the recorder in third grade count?”
He flashes me a smile. “Kind of like bodyboarding counts as surfing.”
We’ve reached the house now. The sun is hitting the front windows, turning them into gleaming pools of gold light. But the yard is still in shadows.
“Wetsuit off, right?” I say.
“Yeah, there’s a hose around here somewhere you can use to wash down.”
He rummages around by the side of the house and emerges holding a hose.
I strip my wetsuit off. If there’s one thing it’s impossible to look coordinated doing, it’s removing a wetsuit. Luckily, I’ve got board shorts on underneath so I’m spared the indignity of possible shrinkage on full display.
“Damn, that’s cold.” I spray myself with the frigid water.
Cody’s standing there, immobile. He studies the ground, not looking at me.
Because I’m in control of the hose, I can’t help flicking water in his direction. He raises his gaze to mine, his eyes narrowing.
“You looked like you needed to cool off,” I say.
“Thanks,” he replies dryly.
I turn off the hose.
“Race you for the first shower,” I say, taking off through the door.
I’m not expecting Cody to engage, but then I hear footsteps on the floorboards behind me in the kitchen, and he’s right on my tail as I streak through the living room.
We’re side-by-side on the stairs, jostling each other with our elbows.
He slips ahead when we reach the hallway, but I tackle him to slow his momentum, and we both crash into the bathroom door at the same time and slide down it, laughing through our panting.
~ * ~ Annie‘s Review ~ * ~
The Other Brother is a good New Adult/ Young Adult read with an interesting twist on the stepbrother trope. The writing was smooth, the characters likable, and the romance sweet.
Young Adult romances can be hit or miss for me as I sometimes find the immaturity or silly conflicts that fit the characters’ age off-putting. In The Other Brother, I almost felt the opposite. Cody and Ryan often behave or talk almost too mature for their age. I found this especially noticeable with Ryan, the quintessential high school surfer boy for much of the book, but who would occasionally wax poetic about Cody’s appearance or feelings for him. In these moments, I admittedly stumbled. I liked the writing and story in The Other Brother, but…
As I kept reading, I found myself increasingly drawn into Cody and Ryan’s story, their ongoing family drama, and the unexpected connection that would help heal longstanding wounds between their families. I enjoyed seeing these two forges a connection and how innocent it felt initially, but how that feeling solidified into something extraordinary at the end. I also enjoyed seeing both characters develop throughout the story—in their own lives, their relationship with each other, and their relationships with their family members.
I always like it when books surprise me. The Other Brother definitely did that—not only did it prove to be a slower build but gripping read, but it also had some surprising moments and revelations I honestly hadn’t expected. I’d recommend The Other Brother to readers who like New Adult stories and don’t mind some family drama to drive the plot and conflicts.
*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure. A review wasn’t a requirement. ***
Jax’s stories are all about light-hearted conversations and deeply-felt connections. She loves exploring exactly why two characters are the only ones who’ll make the other truly happy, and the journey they take to reach their happily-ever-after.
Jax lives in New Zealand and is a rabid sports fan, a hiking enthusiast and has a slightly unhealthy addiction to nature documentaries. As an extrovert who spends way too much time in her own head, she loves to connect with readers. Join her Facebook group Jax’s Crew (www.facebook.com/groups/jaxcaldercrew) for bonus stories plus exclusive excerpts from her upcoming books.