Developing the Counselor by Serena Yates

Title: Developing the Counsellor

Series: New Horizons (#7)

Genre: M/M Contemporary

Author: Serena Yates

Publisher: Total-E-Bound (October 17th 2011)

ISBN: 978-0-85715-788-1

Format: ebook short story

Heat Level: Moderate

My Rating: ♥♥♥3Hearts

From the Publisher:   Emilio Scarpino is a self development counsellor who can’t seem to lose the extra pounds he believes stop him from finding love. He likes eating and hates perfectly fit men like his personal trainer – until he meets ex-Army man Ivan Macer. The man is not only a hunk but very interested in Emilio.

Ivan became a security specialist when he left the Army two years ago and now co-owns a small company with his friend Leo. Part of the reason he left the Army was that he couldn’t be himself – and he still hasn’t come out, but would for the right man.

Can Ivan convince Emilio that he cares more about who he is than what he looks like? Can Emilio believe him and develop a new sense of self?

About the Author (from the Publisher):   I’m a night owl who starts writing when everyone else in my time zone is asleep. I’ve loved reading all my life and spent most of my childhood with my nose buried in a book. Although I always wanted to be a writer, financial independence came first. Twenty-some years and a successful business career later I took some online writing classes and never looked back.

My Review:   I had a friend when I was younger that constantly battled his weight and as a result, he had some serious misconceptions about himself. In a similar fashion, Emilio firmly believes that no one could possibly be attracted to him because of his excess weight. He suffers from a serious case of low self esteem and also some inward hostilities towards people he believes look ‘perfect’.

Emilio is in serious need of a vacation and is envious of his friend Felix’s blossoming relationship with his new boyfriend. He decides to takes some time off from his counseling job to go visit him. When he shows up at Felix’s office he discovers the absolute physical perfection of Ivan Macer. Exercise buffs, personal trainers, and ex-Army men all get his guard up so he just has no clue how Ivan could possibly be attracted to him!

We were first introduced to Ivan in Ms. Yates previous book ‘Saving the Bodyguard (New Horizons, #5)’ when he suggested that his partner go for anger management training. He feels an instant bond of friendship and camaraderie form as soon as he meets Emilio and is quick to admit that he is physically attracted to him as well.

This is the part that I sort of had a problem with…in the earlier pages, Ivan says multiple times that he cannot admit that he is gay (although there are some allusions to brief M/M encounters?) but he grabs Emilio, pushes him up against a wall and dives into bed with him without one ounce of hesitation. I have to be a bit skeptical of this situation. I would think there would be a bit more resistance to getting physical if he is as ‘not gay’ as he suggests.

The author does a great job with Emilio’s character. We are given quite a wonderful and emotional look into what drives him, his insecurities, and his dreams. Leo’s character didn’t really come together for me. He is sweet and encouraging to Emilio but went from dominant and aggressive to insecure and hesitant depending on the scene.

The interactions between Emilio and Ivan were well written and there was both passion and tenderness in their relationship. I would have liked to see the story keep going a little bit more, I thought maybe it ended a little too abruptly.

Overall, not a bad story. Tender and passionate with a real look at what weight problems can do to a person’s self confidence. I just would have preferred Leo’s character be a bit more defined.