He didn't paint people; the curves of their bodies and angles of their faces never interested him as much as cityscapes. The circumstances of his life had compelled him to create new worlds that he could get lost in rather than reflect the features of the people he ran from. He constructed buildings from their foundations, making them taller and stronger than he was. He adorned the edifices with countless windows, always left open or cracked so hope could pour in and fears could seep out. Tree lined streets reminded him how to breathe, pumping oxygen through the atmosphere, off the canvas, and into his lungs.
He didn't paint people until the day he no longer desired the anonymity of his cities. The streets didn't feel like his escape anymore, not like him. Cerulean skies gave way to pale blue eyes and bus routes to pink pouts. Evan didn't paint people until he painted Jackson.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.5 stars Bleeding Like Me wasn't quite what I expected, but it is quite good. The author certainly shows a talent for drawing a reader in with an interesting storyline and characters. In many cases, characters with flaws are the best kind, and that's the case here as I found myself liking them more and more. The story is emotional and a bit dark as Jackson and Evan get deeper into a relationship that has to be kept secret. As with any forbidden romance, someone is bound to find out. I would've expected that part, especially considering what happened, to have been given more attention than it was, but it felt like the story just rushed past it. The biggest drawback in this one for me was the sheer amount of steam. I appreciate a steamy tale as much as the next person, and I get that this pair's relationship started with a hookup, but as things progressed, I would've liked to have seen more development as their feelings grew. That aside, I still liked Jackson and Evan together and I did enjoy the conclusion to their story.
4.5 stars--Well, this was a nice surprise A few years back, I read a lot of motorcycle club/professional criminal romances. I would seek out those that had a realistic level of grit to the story as opposed to the overdramatized plots primarily known for their shock value. Bleeding Like Me reminded me a lot of those books I so enjoyed. There was violence, drug use, rough and offensive slang, and a good amount of criminal activity- but it never felt gratuitous. Rather, it gave this story about two rival gang members who fall in love an appreciable level of authenticity. While there were definitely hints of Romeo and Juliet or West Side Story to the plotline, it wasn’t a tired rehashing of those stories. Bleeding Like Me offered up quite a few unexpected twists along the way, and I was honestly surprised at how caught up I became in Evan and Jackson’s story. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book this gritty, and I’ll admit some of those opening scenes made me a bit uncomfortable, thinking that this wasn’t going to be the book for me. However, I found the characters to have a quietly compelling vulnerability I couldn’t look away from. I loved how the heroes were able to truly be themselves with one another, exposing sides of their personalities and dreams nobody else in their lives got to see. Not only did this enhance the palpable emotional and physical connection between Evan and Jackson, but it also added depth to their personalities and let the reader in enough to become invested in the couple. Though this wasn’t an easy, breezy romance and Evan and Jackson’s journey was rocky, the resolutions were befitting of the couple’s unerring love and the ending was perfect. As far as I can tell, this is a debut novel for the author and, at times, that was evident in the flow and transitions. That said, Bleeding Like Me ended up being a wonderful surprise, so much so that I wouldn’t be shocked if it ends up on my “best of 2018” list come December. I’m definitely excited to see what’s up next for this author because this was a really good debut. *Reviewed for Alpha Book Club*
Bleeding Like Me is a captivating and compelling story by debut author Riley Parks, and I’m enchanted. Yes, it’s a romance, but there’s so much more going on and Parks put me through the ringer as I watched these rival gang members infiltrate each other's lives. Reading through Bleeding Like Me transported me into another world, and when I reached the end I scrolled back to the beginning and started it again. This is a hard review to write without using spoilers, and at best a difficult one for me to write period. There is so much emotion, action and tension, plus anticipation it’s almost impossible to put into words everything this story evokes. I never knew what was going to happen next or how Riley Parks would ever bring these guys through it all to get their happily ever after. I love a dark romance, that excruciatingly wonderful feeling of dread and trepidation, and Parks builds this story perfectly. Rival gang members, Evan and Jackson hook up in a park on the west side of Chicago because, in Evan’s words, both have “too much to lose if his proclivities saw the light of day.” Their initial attraction is purely sexual, but as they get to know each other their connection deepens. Parks does a wonderful job of creating two distinct characters and letting their unique traits unfold. Evan’s got a soft side, he’s an artist with a sense of humor, and he’s cocky with self confidence. Jackson is outwardly cold and ruthless but he has a beautifully submissive side and longs to be taken care of. I loved watching these two men come to grips with their committed relationship, reeling from the unfamiliar feelings of desire and affection and embracing everything that comes with it. I thrilled at all the twists and turns in Bleeding Like Me and the way Riley Parks builds Evan and Jackson’s journey up to the perfect ending. I’d love to know what’s next for these men and I sincerely hope this is the first in a series. Regardless, I can tell by the wide range of themes and emotions Parks explores so nicely that she has a wealth of stories to tell. Where Riley Parks goes after this I can only imagine, and I can’t wait to follow along!