Title: Office Hours
Author: Rena Butler
Length: 16,600 words (68 pdf pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m contemporary
Buried under mediocre composition papers, adjunct college professor Nick Russo grows more cynical with each passing day—until he reads a fantastic paper written by the slacker who sits in the back of the class. That slacker is Sean Kendrick, a senior English major with a night job and a few general education credits left to fill.
Sean and Nick strike up a rapport over Cheetos and mutual academic frustration, but it doesn’t stay uncomplicated for long. Ethics won’t allow Nick to pursue a relationship with a student—and that’s before allegations of sexual misconduct put his job in jeopardy….
I picked this up with no expectation beyond knowing that it was about a student/professor relationship, and I do enjoy stories with college students. I was very pleasantly surprised. That’s not to say I didn’t expect it to be good, but I didn’t expect it to have quite the appeal that it did. Obviously the author’s rather snarky/sarcastic sense of humour and my own mesh well. It’s not overtly funny in a slapstick way, but I found myself snorting more than once at the interactions between the characters.
Nick is not a full professor and is stuck teaching introductory composition classes to kids who don’t want to be there. He comes across a paper which is remarkably well done, in fact he wonders if it’s plagerised since the guy spends most of his time sleeping in class, however it turns out Sean is a senior who has to take the class to graduate and knows his stuff. Soon they are meeting regularly during office hours to discuss papers and just hang out. Nick is attracted but knows he can’t do anything because of the students/teacher relationship. Even when he starts having erotic dreams about Sean, and Sean makes a move on him, he does the right thing and puts him off, hard as it is
There are a lot of characters in this book, mostly Sean’s coworkers, other lecturers and you get to know them and their quirks. It seems like a lot of people for the story but it works. None of them are the interfering friend, although one pushes him to go for it, even though he knows he can’t. An accusation by a disgruntled student proves him right, better to be above reproach. But each of those characters had a specific personality that came through and made me smile or snort at their antics. There is also an easy banter, that I suppose could come across as a bit immature and mean, but you know it’s all in good fun, and these people are all in their mid to late-20′s, not 50 year olds, so I thought it fit their personalities and friendship group.
You don’t get to know much about Sean, it’s all told from Nick’s POV but it seemed he was just a normal guy, and when they finally get together later in the summer after Sean graduates, it was hot and steamy and in a colleagues office. The end is really only as they are getting started and was cute and funny. While I wouldn’t have minded another paragraph or so, I was content with how it ended. I didn’t see any great drama for these guys. They have a lot in common, get along, are attracted, so I imagine they’ll go on to have a pretty normal relationship. I didn’t feel compelled to see more of them.
Lately with insta-love stories and coincidences that make me roll my eyes in some of the stories I’ve been reading, I quite enjoyed this more realistic portrayal of a relationship. They know each other nearly 4 months before they officially get together and spent a lot of time together, so it makes sense. And as I noted, for me the humour just worked in an understated way. It doesn’t takes itself all that seriously. I really enjoyed the short time it took me to read it and came away with a smile after it was over which is always nice. I’m not saying it’s great literature, but for me it was fun and definitely worth a look by others when you want something that isn’t angst laden and convoluted. This is the author’s first publication per Goodreads, but I would definitely check out more in the future.