After the first two novels in this incredibly emotional series, Free Fall, I’m honored to have had the opportunity to review Paint the Stars.
My thanks to both Christina Lee and Nyrae Dawn for providing me with the advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
Ezra has been a mystery to me since the first book, where Lucas and Gabriel were the focal pairing. Ezra, as Gabriel’s roommate, was incredible in both being annoying and supporting Gabe.
Then Ezra was Connor’s roomie, did his thing to support him, keeping to his weed smoking, broody tortured artist persona. His behavior never explained. But now… now we learn everything about him, his past, why he’s so closed off, why he’s basically a hermit.
Daevonte is incredible! One can’t not adore his cheery demeanor, his laid back personality and his vivacious and infectious behavior.
Daevonte is basically Ezra’s babysitter while he paints a mural at the center where he works as a yoga instructor. They become sort of friends, where Dae is determined to get Ezra to be more laid back, even try some yoga to help him relax and work better. By being persistent, Dae manages to get through to Ezra on a very basic level, get to know him, fall in love and get Ezra to develop feelings for Dae.
Their beginning is hard, though. Ezra is demi-sexual (read up on it a little, it’s fascinating), he needs to feel connected to someone and trust them in order to even feel attracted and interested in being intimate. And then… when he least expects it – it happens for him with Dae. Even then, though, Ezra is holding himself back, having burned badly years before, and growing up the way he had – he knows only fighting and disappointments.
Daevonte, on his part, reads Ezra beautifully, and he sees his conflicts, his hesitancy, his fears. His childhood and coming out experience was very different than Ezra’s and he has a very loving support system. His parents are his confidants and they guide him through when he’s not sure how to proceed with Ezra. I feel like they are key in progressing the story and I loved the parts when Dae was with his family.
As with all of Christina and Nyrae’s joint projects, this one is carefully thought, beautiful, touching and teaching story. Ezra and Daevonte’s journey to happiness is strewn with emotional challenges that are extremely well tackled and make for a gorgeous read. I can’t wait for more.
What do you usually do to relax?” I ask him.
“Besides paint?” I nod and he continues, “You really want to know?”
“Nope.” I wink at him and he rolls his eyes.
“Whew.” I tease him. “I thought it was going to be something bad by the way you were acting. Go get it. Let’s light that shit up.” I’ve never been a huge fan of weed. Not that I dislike it, because it can be fun, but it makes me giggle for a little while and pass out. I typically don’t want to just randomly pass out.
“Okay.” He pushes off the counter, sets his coffee down, and disappears down the hallway. There’s some rustling in the other room. A moment later he’s back with a small loaded pipe in his hand. “You can have green,” he says, offering me the first hit.
Our fingers brush when I take the pipe from his hand. He hesitates for a second, then nods at me as though he wants me to go ahead and put the pipe to my lips. I do. Instead of handing me the lighter, Ezra flicks the flame to life and then holds it over the weed. It crackles and pops and burns as I inhale, the smoke stinging my lungs and my throat. He pulls back, and I set the pipe down, and his eyes are burning me the same way the flame just did with the pot. My stomach flips, and he keeps looking, and holy fuck that was hot for some reason.
He takes the pipe back, still watching. He puts it to his lips, still watching. He takes a hit, still watching. There’s something about the way Ezra looks at you. It’s as though he can see something in you no one else can. Like he looks deeper because it’s easier to look inside of someone else than to look inside himself. It makes me feel like he’s seeing things I didn’t know were there. Like he’s asking questions he can’t find the words to ask and like he’s trying to make sense of all of it himself.
“Here,” he says before he hands the pipe back. I put it to my lips, and we continue on that way, him lighting for me and me passing the pipe back to him until the bowl is dusted. His eyes only briefly dart away from me from time to time, otherwise their searing stare is locked with mine. It’s the most intensely he’s looked at me since I met him.
“Wow,” I tell him. “I almost feel like I need a cigarette even though I don’t smoke them. I don’t know how all this works for you, but on my end, that was kind of hot.”
A laugh bursts out of Ezra’s mouth— it’s infectious and happy, and I realize it might be the most honest one I’ve ever heard from him. It makes me decide right then and there to do whatever it takes to make it happen again and again until it becomes a habit for him. That’s what friends are for, right?
Ezra Greene has made a pretty decent life for himself. He has a nice apartment and spends his days doing the one thing he’s always loved—creating art. Despite being somewhat of a grumpy recluse, he’s even made a few loyal friends. When he takes a side job painting a mural at a local holistic center, he can’t help being curious about a certain friendly and self-assured yoga instructor, even if he doesn’t buy into any of that Zen crap. His holier-than-thou family already tried fitting him inside a box, and he swore he’d never be molded into anybody’s belief system again.
For Daevonte Randall, adulthood has worked out pretty well. He’s close to his parents and lives with an awesome roommate. He’s content with weekend hookups, teaching yoga, and taking college courses. What he doesn’t expect is to be so intrigued by the brooding and reserved painter he’s been tasked to stay after hours with at the center. Something fascinates him about Ezra, even after Daevonte’s attempts at flirting gets him friend-zoned on the spot.
As weeks pass, Ezra and Dae get to know each other, and soon their friendship catches fire. But Ezra’s been burned pretty badly before so trust and intimacy has to be earned. Daevonte feels up to the task, but it proves difficult as Ezra continues to keep his emotions in check. Dae’s only willing to wait so long, and when they’re dealt a surprising blow, Ezra needs to decide if love is worth the risk, that is…if it’s not too late.
Nyrae Dawn can almost always be found with a book in her hand or an open document on her laptop. She couldn’t live without books—reading or writing them. Oh, and chocolate. She’s slightly addicted.
She gravitates toward character-driven stories. Whether reading or writing, she loves emotional journeys. It’s icing on the cake when she really feels something, but is able to laugh too. She’s a proud romantic, who has a soft spot for flawed characters, who make mistakes, but also have big hearts.
Whether she’s writing young adult, new adult, or adult you can always count on a healthy dose of romance from her books. She likes to tackle tough subjects, and believes everyone needs to see themselves in the stories they read.
Nyrae is living her very own happily ever after in California with her gorgeous husband (who still makes her swoon) and her two incredibly awesome kids.
Once upon a time, I lived in New York City and was a wardrobe stylist. I spent my days shopping for photo shoots, getting into cabs, eating amazing food, and drinking coffee at my favorite hangouts.
Now I live in the Midwest with my husband and son—my two favorite guys. I’ve been a clinical social worker and a special education teacher. But it wasn’t until I wrote a weekly column for the local newspaper that I realized I could turn the fairytales inside my head into the reality of writing fiction.
I write Adult, New Adult, and M/M Contemporary Romance. I’m addicted to lip gloss and salted caramel everything. I believes in true love and kissing, so writing romance novels has become a dream job.