Book Reviews

Names Can Never Hurt Me by Wade Kelly at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Erotic Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 30-May-2017

Book Blurb

What if sexuality wasn’t a definable thing and labels merely got in the way?

Nick Jones can’t remember a time when he wasn’t part of the in crowd. Everywhere he goes, he stands out as the best looking guy in the room, and women practically fall into bed with him. Then, after kissing Corey on a dare led much more and on many occasions, Nick’s “screw anything” reputation escalated, but he didn’t care.

When Nick meets RC at the restaurant where he works, it throws his whole life out of whack. Overweight, always sweaty, gay, and hairy like a bear, RC lives up to his dubbed nickname “Scruffy Dude.” He seems Nick’s complete opposite, but Nick can’t get him out of his head.

Because of peer-pressure and his fears about defining his sexuality, Nick struggles with stepping out of his comfort zone and caring about someone different than himself. If he’s lucky, somewhere between arrogance and ignorance, Nick might find out what it means to be an adult, but if he’s wrong, he could lose everything.



First Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, 2014.


Book Review

“I'd thought sexuality was instinctive or natural, but it's profoundly linked to inner security and cultural context.” ~ Tahar Ben Jelloun

If there was ever a clueless person, it would be Nick Jones of Wade Kelly's book, 'Names Can Never Hurt Me'. He's been skating through life for years, without giving too much thought to who he is or what he wants; he's satisfied with what's readily available and easy. He has no concept of how others see him, mostly because he doesn't involve his brain in anything remotely complicated. Even with sex, he slides through it with little or no intimacy; self gratification is the ultimate goal. Nick lives a shallow life, with shallow friends, thinking that good looks and sex are all important. Then he meets RC and Nick's days of merely sliding by, in blissful ignorance are over.

Nick's never given much thought to his sexuality. He's slept with just about every girl in his elite social group so he's had no need to question it. He's with women, so he's straight. Then, on a dare, he kisses Corey, a sweet, flamboyant gay man at a party, which leads to a secret affair between them, but Nick refuses to admit that he might be gay. Neither want a commitment so they stay friends and avoid emotional entanglement. Anytime he questions his sexuality, Nick runs to the next available girl and proves his straightness. As his feelings for RC grow, he has an awful time denying that he's gay. If Nick wants to win him over, he has to examine his lifestyle and make some serious changes in his actions and thoughts. As his eyes become open, he sees that the people he thought were his friends are not. They have never cared about him; they simply used him. Acknowledging this breaks Nick's heart. By this time, Nick knows he's in love with RC and agrees to his stringent, almost impossible terms, just to prove he's interested in a lasting relationship and that he can change.

RC is a complicated man. There's a lot that doesn't meet the eye about him. He's had a difficult life being the big fat boy who was frequently ridiculed by kids in school and in his later life. These experiences have caused RC to be cautions and untrusting. Just as RC is getting a good grip on his life, he meets Nick. RC likes him right away. He sees Nick as a kind-hearted individual worthy of knowing. As RC gets more glances at Nick's life, he realizes that Nick is not living up to his potential; he has little self-respect and a hard time standing up for himself. He goes with whatever is convenient, which gets himself into unhealthy, damaging, and even dangerous situations. Nick's disregard for his own good angers RC. He wants to see Nick take better care of himself. Nick tells RC that he's interested, but RC isn't so sure he wants to be that close to Nick. He levels with him and it's not pretty. Nick is hurt, but knows that what RC says is true, i.e., that he's a man whore, thinks about sex all the time, that all his decisions are based on self-gratification. RC has been hurt too much to crawl back in that mire, and gives Nick an ultimatum; if he's serious about being in a real relationship with RC, he will have to prove himself worthy. Nick has to put sex aside and learn to focus on life. RC is determined not to have sex with Nick until his vapid exterior more closely resembles the good-hearted man that he sees on the inside.

This book is a character study of two young men finding their way through the complexities of life, coming out and living their lives truthfully and successfully with deliberation and commitment. Nick, especially, learns to face his fears, to let go of a past that was destructive at best and embrace the future with a new outlook. RC learns to love and trust again, giving him an acceptance he's seldom had in his life, a new family, and whacky, but wonderful new friends. I recommend this insightful, original story to everyone, but especially to those who are conflicted about who they are and what they want out of life. Thanks, Wade! I can hardly wait for the sequel.





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Additional Information

Format ebook, print and audio
Length Novel, 340 pages/118365 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 16-February-2015
Price $6.99 ebook, $17.99 paperback, $24.95 audiobook
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