Jayce Ellis

Books: Romance | LGBT

Higher Education: Learned Behaviors (2020)

Higher Education

Learned Behaviors (2020)

Learned BehaviorsJaQuan Reynolds has dedicated the last 18 years of his life to his daughter.

For four years, Tanisha had begged Santa to give her a new mommy, and had stopped believing in him not long after that.

Now that she is off to college, he is faced with the question of what he is going to do with the rest of his life.

Matthew Donaldson is dedicated to his job. Which is why he is divorced, and doesn’t have close relationships with his kids. Now he’s starting to wonder if his job is worth it.

And maybe that was the problem, that he didn’t think enough about the impact of his actions on the kids. That they were grown didn’t mean he no longer needed to be cognizant, right?

A projects has both men working closely together, and unable to deny the attraction between them.

This isn’t precisely enemies to lovers, but Jaq doesn’t much like Matt at the start of the story, and Matt has concerns about Jaq’s professionalism–which made me not much like Matt, since he clearly didn’t appreciate everything his wife did to raise their kids. This means that their initial attraction didn’t work for me, because enemies to lovers never works for me if the attraction comes before clearing up their misunderstandings.

That said, I adored Jaq.

I loved that he started to make friends after dropping his daughter off at her dorm–and that the friendship grew throughout the story.

Carlton: homecoming this weekend! My boy’ll be here in two days. What we doin?

Lawrence: Really, that last g was going to kill you?

Carlton: ur one of those huh? That do full sentences and shit in text?

Lawrence: Good grammar is not a crime.

I also really enjoyed Matt’s growth throughout the story–and that his path to correcting his failings isn’t a smooth one, because it’s a lot of work to change more than 20 years of behavior.

How do I show him, anyone really, that I’m genuinely there for them?”

“Being understanding is basic human empathy, Matt. You’ve got that, even if you act like a donkey’s ass sometimes.”

I also liked that they talked about their problems and differences–although the talking didn’t always come immediately because of the pressures of their jobs. I don’t much love that Jaq felt guilty for his part in the Big Misunderstanding; I don’t think he had anything to apologize for. But I understand that he felt he did, because that’s the kind of person he is.

So I enjoyed the story, but would have liked it more had it not been a trope that does not work for me.

Publisher: Carina Press 

Rating: 7/10