Learning from Isaac

Dev Bentham
Learning from Isaac
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Loose Id
Release Date
April 2012
Book 1 of Tarnished Souls
Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ

Nathan Kohn has been teaching Aquatic Science at St. Genevieve College for 15 years. It's not a perfect situation, but he's resigned to being a gay man in a straight culture, a Jew among Catholics and single in a world of couples. Until the stunningly attractive Isaac Wolf appears in his classroom. Isaac is a few years older than his fellow students, brilliant, self-composed and Jewish. Wouldn't Nathan's mother be pleased? Except, of course, relationships between faculty and students are forbidden, especially those not sanctioned by the Church.

Isaac has his own secrets, which Nathan finds out when he visits the racy new club downtown where boys can be bought in the back room. Behind the beaded curtain, the man on his knees turns out to be Isaac. What happens in the club stays there, right? Except Nathan's mind isn't the only thing Isaac blows, and Nathan can't stop thinking about that night. But what kind of future can there be for a college professor and a rent boy?

Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: male/male sexual practices.

Book Review by Bridget (reviewer)
Jul 18, 2012   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
192 people found the following review helpful
I expected this book to be sexy and provocative, but I wasn't expecting how emotional and thought-provoking it would be as well. A compelling story that runs the gamut from the pain of loneliness and isolation to the joy of finding precisely where you belong, with a host of real-life issues, Isaac's story is one that lingers after the final page is read.

Nathan Kohn is an outsider. A Jewish professor and a gay man teaching at Catholic St. Genevieve's College, and not one of the most beloved teachers, Nathan's life is neither very interesting or very enjoyable—until Isaac enters his Aquatic Science class. As far as Nathan is concerned, Isaac Wolf is nearly perfect—older and more mature than his fellow students, Jewish, beautiful, and fascinated by the class material enough to make it into his career. The problem is that Isaac is Nathan's student, and no matter how flirtatious Isaac's smiles might be, Nathan knows there is no chance whatever that anything will come of his fantasies.

Until the night when Nathan's childhood best friend takes him to one of Chicago's most illustrious—and notorious—gay clubs. There, Nathan finds out just how Isaac is paying for college, and they both indulge their darkest fantasies. Though he hoped those purchased moments might purge Isaac from his mind, Nathan finds he can't escape his memories, or his hopes that they might have something more, one day. But even if they can wait until Isaac's graduation and overcome the taboo of their age difference, is there any hope for staid, hesitant Nathan and Isaac, who has already experienced more pain and loneliness in his young life than anyone should be forced to do?

There is a lot of darkness and pain in this story. Isaac's life has been brutal and lonely, and though the subjects are treated very delicately, it's still not always easy to handle. Despite all of it though, or maybe because of it, Isaac is a survivor. He has enough strength not only to support himself, but also to fight for a future with Nathan. He is wise beyond his years, and disarmingly sweet beneath his façade, and getting to see all the layers of his character was a real treat.

What I found most striking was Nathan's evolution over the course of the story, and the exceptional way that change was conveyed. I'll be perfectly honest and say that when I first met Nathan (who is the narrator of the story), I really didn't like him very much. Years of being alone and being different have made him very insular and a rather unemotional, and that shows in the early pages of that book. As he and Isaac grow closer, and as he is forced to consider his own reactions to Isaac's past, the tone of the narrative changed, reflecting Nathan's own development. It's certainly not a complete transformation, and this is not a relationship with a great many easy answers, but there are moments in the course of the story that really gave me hope, not only for Nathan and Isaac's relationship, but also for Nathan himself as well.

And honestly, I don't think I'd have enjoyed this story if everything were resolved on the final page; the journey is the important part of this book, rather than the destination that our heroes reach. I would have liked to see a few more pages in this story, as I'm not sure each theme and moment got the time they deserved. In its current form, however, this was a well-rounded story of two incredibly unlikely people finding love and hope in each other's arms, that provided plenty of tension and steam, as well as some pause for thought. The darkness of the story made the romance and the tender moments so much more emotional, and I would be very interested to read more by Dev Bentham in the future.
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Book Review by Valentina Heart (author,reviewer)
Aug 08, 2012   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
176 people found the following review helpful
This experience is a good example of how an author can write two completely different books and while sometimes it's a great thing, for me this time it went the other way.

Nathan is a professor teaching Aquatic science and has held the same position for fifteen years. He's great at what he does and can safely say he's always done his best. But even with all of that experience with different students passing through his classroom over the years, he still wasn't quite prepared for Isaac.

Way too young for him doesn't seem to matter, because Isaac isn't immune to the attraction between them and is more than willing to act on it. But being professional is something Nathan holds in high regard and until Isaac is done with his degree nothing can happen between them.

It turns out waiting isn't their only problem. One night out finds Nathan with his legs spread and Isaac between them, doing what he was paid for. Can Nathan handle Isaac's situation or will jealousy and less than stellar past destroy the couple?

I liked the previous book from this author so I pretty much jumped at the opportunity to read this one. From the very start I couldn't connect to the story. Nathan just wasn't interesting for me at all and while there were some initial sparks between him and Isaac, the more I got to know Nathan the less I liked him.

By the time they reached the point where they could be together, I didn't even feel that initial spark and the sex scenes seemed pretty weak not to mention questionable at times. The characters changed their colors too much for my taste and all the random but convenient situations orchestrated to sharpen the plot only distanced me further.

At the end, while promising and still very much able to carry the ‘good writing' label, this book was not for me.

Disclaimer: The reviewer is also a published author with Loose Id.
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