A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

Brandon Mills versus the V-Card by Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock

on May 12, 2021

CW: child sexual abuse

I’m not loving the trend of unbelievably perfect romance heroes lately, so I was intrigued when I realized that Brandon, the touch-averse student first introduced in Mark Cooper versus America, was not being matched with someone knowledgeable and unutterably sensitive, but rather someone as inexperienced and clueless as he is.

Brandon’s situation is deeply tragic. He was molested by a teacher as a child, he believes his father thinks that experience “ruined” him as a man, and his eidetic memory keeps him reliving those terrible experiences. He’s so freaked out most of the time, he doesn’t even experience sexual feeling, much less a sexual identity.

But Alex, a new pledge at his nerdy fraternity, develops an almost instant crush on Brandon, fantasizing about them as both equally eager to find first love and first sex in college. And his puppy-dog cuteness become hard for Brandon to ignore.

What follows is an adorably sincere, bumbling, sweet slow burn, as Brandon and Alex figure out how to be together. Brandon isn’t able to talk about his experiences for a long time, so there’s occasionally mistakes and hurt feelings. But Alex doesn’t need to be a perfect amateur sex therapist, because the most important thing he can offer Brandon, besides relearning how to have good physical feelings, is relearning how to play .

Brandon’s process seems very real and believable, but the book overall is too funny to be really heavy. Brandon and Alex’s sex banter is a goofy delight. The wonderfully awful Mark is around, being a ridiculous arsehole but also a good friend, and there’s an over-the-top subplot (I hope not offensive to anyone) in which kind, oblivious frat boy Blake goes to Gay/Straight Alliance meetings to figure out how to help Brandon with what he thinks is an identity crisis and winds up becoming an integral part of the group.

I really enjoyed both books, but lil ole lady me was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of kinky sex in the first. This has a much milder heat level, and you can skip the first book, though Mark’s character will be harder to understand.

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