Book Reviews

Rockets and Romance by Wendy Qualls

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 24-March-2020

Book Blurb

Love isn’t rocket science… or is it?


Julian Barlow has finally landed his dream job working for NASA. The catch? He has to move to Huntsville, Alabama—a daunting prospect for a gay pescetarian from Los Angeles who’s never been south of the Mason-Dixon line.


Fellow engineer Cody Ewing is an Alabama boy through and through, and Julian’s casual assumptions about the South in general and Southern homophobia in particular makes it dislike at first sight. Then NASA throws them together on a months-long project, and they have to make it work.


Forced to rely on each other, the two men develop a tentative friendship that becomes something more as Cody shows Julian Alabama’s good side. Julian’s insistence on secrecy and Cody’s hot-and-cold act could scuttle their chances before they ever get off the ground, though...



First edition published by Dreamspinner Press, August 2019.


Book Review

“Imma take it slow while the rocket burn. They burnin’. We’ll be making love, baby.” ~ Frank Ocean (Rocket Love)

It is seldom safe to make assumptions, but Julian Barlow, of ‘Rockets and Romance’ by Wendy Qualls, is a master at it. Julian has always wanted to work for NASA, but when he gets a chance to do so, he has to move to Huntsville, Alabama. Without researching it, Julian assumes that the people there will be backward, uncultured, and homophobic. He is expecting to be totally bored and unaccepted.

Cody is ready to accept the new employee, Julian, with open arms, helping him settle into his job, untangling the weird computer codes left by his predecessor. When he goes down to greet Julian, he overhears him talking of the phone, expressing the negative perception of Huntsville and its residents. Needless to say, it angers Cody, souring any goodwill he may have for Julian. To say they get off on the wrong foot is an understatement. Yet Cody tries to be professional, disregarding Julian’s demeaning comments and continues the introduction process. However, Cody has formed an impression of Julian as a stuck-up, citified jerk.

Matters don’t improve when Julian finds that Cody is going to be working with him, helping him learn the ropes, making the transition easier for him and the company in general. Julian resents Cody’s help, thinking that it makes him seem weak and inadequate in some way. Cody is offended by Julian’s attitude and, although he would like to just give Julian the working manual and leave him to it, he doesn’t want to let anyone else down, so he continues to try to help a resistant Julian. After being there a while, Julian is beginning to understand why he might need help. He’s also beginning to be attracted to Cody, although he would never want anyone at work to know it, for fear of being judged for being gay. Cody is openly gay and has never faced prejudice from anyone in the workplace, but Julian isn’t convinced that the same would be true for him. After spending a day together as just friends, Julian begins to appreciate the charm the city has to offer as well what Cody has to offer. When they get back to work, Julian is still afraid that his sexuality is going to affect his professional appearance and insists that he and Cody behave as if they were just coworkers and not lovers. Cody doesn’t like the idea, but he agrees. As things get more complicated between them, the pressure grows; something has to give.

I enjoyed reading about Huntsville. However, the almost constant conflict between the two main characters almost gave me whiplash. At times, I wanted to smack both of them and tell them to grow up and start communicating properly. It was an enemy-to-friends story, so some discordance was expected and I’m always a sucker for a happy ending, no matter the path taken to get there. Thanks, Wendy, for bringing Julian and Cody together.





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Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novella, 95 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 24-March-2020
Price $2.99 ebook, $5.99 paperback
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