Book Review: Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Bend or Break #6-7) by Amy Jo Cousins

Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Bend or Break, #6-7)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: ARC Provided by Author/Publisher
Publication Date:March 22nd 2016 by
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Point of View: Third Person (Austin & Vinnie)
Genres & Themes: MM Romance, LGBTQ+, Romance, Contemporary, New Adult


When friends lose the benefits, can the friendship be saved?

Love Me Like A Rock

With the right art tools, there’s almost nothing Austin can’t make real. Except an official relationship with his best friend, rowing teammate and occasional hookup, Vinnie.

Emotional and sexual frustration fuel a spark between Austin and Sean, the nude model in drawing class. After a quick and very dirty encounter, all the reasons Austin has been waiting for Vinnie go fuzzy in his mind.

But if Austin can’t get his head and his heart on the same page, he could lose both his friend, and his lover.

Hard Candy

Vincent always assumed he and Austin would eventually end up together. But now that Austin’s in love with another man, Vinnie is at a loss.

After the world’s most awkward one-night stand with Bryan, a dance major, Vinnie is drawn to his vibrant spirit and calm center.

Physically, the rowing jock and the glittery dancer can match each other stroke for booty pop. But for the lovers to meet on common ground, they’ll have to find a way to get moving in the same direction.


Between a Rock and a Hard Place features two novellas that are so cleverly named and planned that you’ll have to read both to really enjoy it. When I say have to I mean that you’ll not want to stop at one nor choose one or the other because something will tickle at the back of your head with wanting.

Austin and Vinnie sound like OTP material, doesn’t it? Lose the benefits and we have ourselves the perfect mix…but maybe not. And definitely not when you read both of their stories and just fall for their respective HEA.

Love Me Like A Rock

“I figure there’s gotta be about seventeen sketches of my dick in there,” Sean said, lifting his chin at the newsprint pad.

Sean captured my attention from the get-go, and it certainly captured Austin’s…or rather a certain part did.

This two were serious fun in and out of the sheets, that they seem to be soiling every time they so much as came in to contact with each other. Austin is upfront with Sean that’s all they’ll be doing since he’s not looking for a relationship.

“Sometimes I think I only matter when I’m right there, demanding someone’s attention.” He thought of Vinnie and their fucked-up-friendship. “Sometimes not even then.”

Austin has pictured his HEA with Vinnie, long-time best friend and friends-with-benefit  on the side, but things aren’t headed that way yet…and it seems it won’t be for a long time. Add that Vinnie is neglecting, if you know what I mean, and guy has his needs that are meet once in a ‘end-of-the-term-hand-in-paper’ moon. In comes Sean, self-assured, fun, patient, redheaded mountain-man looking guy and takes Austin, and his body, by storm.

“Fine. But after dinner, you have to take me back to your room and fuck me until I can’t move. I want to get loud.”

I love how sex positive this was, how Austin acknowledge he needed someone that wanted him and wasn’t afraid to do him everyday. To have his attention and wants directed at him, to want sex and not be ashamed of getting twice if needed.

I’m a big fan of romances that have friendship and realistic portrayals in them and I love how Sean took Austin out of his comfort zone and just showed him how beautiful like can be. Plus, reading about Austin camping was a riot all around, and can picture more of that and I just laugh.

“His attention would be on Austin even when the weren’t together, even when Austin got distracted and forgot to think about him back, because that was who Sean was. Someone who paid attention. But this time maybe Sean would be thinking that Austin wasn’t worth it.”

Sean is that guy I wish I could find, and Austin claimed him (might be why I can’t find him…among other reasons)….but when Austin messed up Sean boy was I ready to make Austin grovel.

Honestly, this two were such a thrill to read and if it had been a novel I would have definitely enjoyed it as well.

Hard Candy

After reading about Vinnie in Love Me Like a Rock, I wasn’t sure what his deal was. Was he focusing on school too much? Did he not like Austin all that much? Did he just not care?

LMLAR does answer some questions about Vinnie, but the POV was of Austin so I wanted to know Vinnie’s. I wanted to know what would make him tick. To get out of his serious, routine-laden life.

As much as I love Sean and Austin, I have to say that this book is special all of its own. This book features the beginning of a healthy ace relationship, I could weep for the broadening that the M/M genre is having and all I can say, in the words of Thor, is another!

Yes to bi stories, yes to ace stories,yes to demi stories, yes to it all. Yes to LGBTQA+, emphasis on the +.

Bryan is such a light and he shines bright in Vinnie’s life. He makes it all the brighter for Vinnie, just by his mere presence. And just as Austin needed/wanted a Sean in his life. Vinnie needed/wanted a Bryan in his life. Sometimes it hurts to know that maybe you weren’t the person some needed/wanted in their lives, but when you see them shine with that special someone you can’t help but be happy for them,

“Vinnie had never before been so fascinated by the nooks and crannies of one man’s personality. Of the slow, deliberate striptease that was getting to know Bryan Latimer.”

Bryan and Vinnie with their yoga, studying breaks, sweet and calming presence were just beautiful to read about. This book is so touching and sweet, and I love Bryan for how unapologetic he was about who he is. And Vinnie for having the courage to not be afraid to love who he wanted and be that person he was always so afraid of being.

This two had fun with each other in the simplest ways. And really find someone who enjoys going walking for studying breaks, find someone who enjoys sweet caresses and makes make out a new religion.

“Whose demands for respect taught Vinnie to value another person as more than a convenience, and whose insistence on walking proudly in the sun made Vinnie a better person.”


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