We Still Live by Sara Dobie Bauer

A small college town still reeling from unexpected tragedy. It might seem like the unlikeliest of places for romance to blossom, but you can’t always control where love will find you.

What’s it About?

we still live

Running from a scandal that ruined his life, Isaac Twain accepts a teaching position at Hambden University where, three months prior, Professor John Conlon stopped a campus nightmare by stepping in front of an active shooter.

When John and Isaac become faculty advisors for the school’s literary magazine, their professional relationship evolves. Despite the strict code of conduct forbidding faculty fraternization, they delve into a secret affair—until Simon arrives.

Isaac’s violent ex threatens not only their careers, but also John’s life. His PTSD triggered, John must come to terms with that bloody day on College Green while Isaac must accept the heartbreak his secrets have wrought.

First Impressions

This is an emotionally heavy read! It’s not just that we’re dealing with a community that is still trying to heal after a school shooting, or a teacher going through the motions of PTSD following his confrontation with the shooter. Nor is it just because of a forbidden love between two male teachers whose jobs are at risk should their amorous activities be discovered. And it’s not only the fact that one of those teachers isn’t openly out as gay, and is attempting to avoid a rather stalkerish ex following the fallout of his 10 year marriage to a woman. It’s the fact that we’re dealing will all of these dramatic story lines at the same time that truly packs an emotional punch.

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I’ll admit, every time I picked up my Kindle to have a go at this read I had to have a light-hearted Christmas movie on in the background so that I didn’t dissolve into a mess of tears with every page. I realize it might seem at the surface like that’s too much drama to be dealing with in one book, but I was surprised to find that it never felt as though any one story line was unnecessary. Everything fit together so perfectly, and while it was indeed a difficult read to approach at times, every element fit succinctly into how these two men found love together amidst every obstacle which was thrown in their path.

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Just Try and Fight It

The romance which developed between Isaac and John was beautiful. It’s the only word I can think of to describe it, yet it also fails to highlight just how special their relationship came to be throughout the story. Upon first meeting, neither of them had romance on the brain. They were both just trying to live from one day to the next following the shit storms which had enveloped their lives over the past year. Isaac even internally admits to himself that John is far from his type. However, their acquaintance quickly turns to friendship, and from friendship it eventually escalates into something more. The strict no-fraternization policy at their university was initially a deterrent to them pursuing anything intimate, but one day they both have to admit to themselves that they can’t fight their connection any more.

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After the trauma of the past year, it’s as though they both acknowledge that it’s better to risk their jobs than to deny themselves a moment of happiness. A moment to truly live. True, their physical chemistry is incredibly strong, and it’s by far one of the steamiest and more realistically passionate reads I’ve come across from this author to date. However, I appreciated that what brings and keeps these two men together isn’t just sex. Rather, they manage to bring out the best in each other, and help to hold each other up when the events surrounding them seem determined to pull them down. When the world seems to be going to hell in a hand-basket, they both recognize that the other man is reason enough to still live.

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*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Stand-alone. I would give anything to see even a short novella of what these two men are up to a few years down the line.

Final Impressions: Consider yourself warned that you’ll want a happy Disney movie on hand for whenever you read this one. It succeeded in bringing me to tears a time or two, as you become emotionally invested in the lives of our characters. It’s a compelling and oftentimes difficult discussion of what it means to be a hero, how you can continue on when giving up seems so much easier, and how at the end of the day love can be so much stronger than pain. I will say I was surprised with the ending of this read, as it almost felt like we reached a conclusion mid-chapter. While it’s a happy ending, it’s not necessarily a perfect one that is tied up with a big red bow. At first I was almost disappointed, but then I realized that it was a truer reflection of the reality of life. We have good days and bad, and while the love between these two men helps them heal, it’s not as though it’s a magic wand that can make all the trauma of the past disappear entirely. They might not be able to completely forget the pain, but by holding on to each other it makes it easier to keep on living.

Smut Level: Kitchen island, boxer briefs, and a decent amount of honey. Enough said 😉

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. NineStar Press. 233 Pages.

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