jlgribble.com | Book Review: The Masked Boys by Julia McBryant

I began this book expecting nothing more than some ridiculous kinky fun between bored rich boys at a boarding school. I was half right. The motivation behind the Plan is a bit silly, and the boys are certainly bored and rich, but the boarding school is not what I expected. These are (adult) teenagers who have been shuffled away from the spotlight due to problems in their past so that they don’t shame their families. However, little is done to address the emotional trauma at the heart of these “problems,” so these guys turn to each other instead.

It’s easy to imagine the relationships that might have played out under different circumstances—contemporary romance arcs between any of the pairings that would not have stood out much in the genre. But for all the risks they take with the Plan, these guys muddle through a bit of toxic masculinity to get one thing right. An attempt at a traditional relationship would collapse under the weight of the insular environment they share. Even Brenton and Reid, best friends their entire lives, likely would not have survived that pressure. By including Cash and Scott, each of them can now explore the various needs, emotional and physical, they can provide each other in a healthier manner.

These are still college-aged guys, so the road toward that awareness is not exactly easy. But the steamy bits of the journey are as enjoyable as the emotional revelations they experience. I would thoroughly enjoy a sequel, set after these four escape the bounds of the Highlands Bridge Academy, to see how their bonds weather exposure in the “real world.” This novel is not a typical story of polyamory but instead a captivating look at how connections can develop between people under extraordinary circumstances.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

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