The Luckiest opens with Nick Ventura waking up in the hospital after a wild night led to a drug-fueled car crash into the window of Saks. This is just the latest episode in the life of the party boy rocker, but certainly the most serious. The only thing that will keep him out of jail is three months at the court-appointed rehab center Glenwood.
Nick is annoyed and angry at having to go to rehab as he doesn’t see himself having a problem. A member of the wildly popular band Luck since his teen years, he has lived his adult life as a wealthy and famous rock star. He spends his time partying, drinking, doing drugs, and bed hopping, and has no real desire to see things change. Especially over the last few months as he deals with emotional upheaval of his brother Shane’s new relationship and the changes that brings between the two of them.
Nick is pretty resistant when he gets to rehab, but soon begins to bond with his nutritionist, Luka Novak. For some reason, Luka is able to reach Nick when no one else can. His sweet and friendly personality covers his no nonsense determination to take care of his patients. Luka puts Nick on a meal plan to combat his recent weight loss and encourages him to begin exercising. The two men form a friendship, eating and working out together. Nick even begins to confide in Luka as he works through his feelings about his brother and what needs to change to get his life back on track.
After Nick gets out of rehab, he and Luka maintain their friendship and begin spending lots of time together. Although both men are attracted to one another, it takes some time before things become physical. After a while, however, the attraction between them is too strong and they begin dating, something that Nick never imagined doing or even wanting. But his new life clean and sober has changed him and he finds that he suddenly sees a life for himself that is different than he ever expected.
Things are still complicated for the guys. Nick’s life has been in no way normal. He grew up with a drunk, abusive father and an absentee mother. He and Shane managed to make it out of that home due to their band’s success, but his childhood certainly took its toll on his mental and emotional state. As the younger brother, Nick depended a lot on Shane and he is having a very hard time adjusting to someone else being in Shane’s life.
Nick also has a hard time now that his public persona is not one he wants to maintain in his private life anymore. Coming home from rehab clean and sober is a major lifestyle adjustment for him, and he doesn’t know how to fit back in with his old life, or even if he wants to. Although he has changed, he finds that many of his friends and assorted hangers-on have no real interest in seeing the new him and still expect him to behave like the old Nick. Figuring out where he fits in and how to step out of the protective shelter he and Luka have built to dealing with other people again is much more challenging than he imagined, and he doesn’t always handle things well.
Everything is not smooth sailing on Luka’s end either. Last year he ended a long-term relationship with a boyfriend who had been cheating on him throughout their time together. Although part of him knows Nick would never treat him that way, he is still not completely over the hurt and at times it impacts the way he relates to Nick. I really liked how Vaughn and O’Shea handled this, as I think it would have been so easy to make Nick the bad guy and Luka the hero. But instead we see that both men have issues in their past to overcome before they can make things work together.
I really loved this story and thought it was a fabulous continuation of the Lucky Moon series (following More Than Moonlight and Moonlight Becomes You). We meet Nick in the earlier books, and to be honest, he is a bit of a hard guy to like. I was really interested to see how the authors developed his character here as we get to know him in more depth. I found that I could really understand and sympathize with him as he struggles to figure out who he wants to be and how to live for himself rather than other people’s expectations. It is clear that so much of his brash behavior is covering up for his insecurities and anxieties and in many ways he is quite lost. And I loved how he is able to get better, both through his relationship with Luka, but also through his own efforts. I found myself really liking Nick with his bit of an obnoxious streak covering his good heart.
The pacing on this book was especially great I think. Although they are not exactly doctor/patient, it would have been inappropriate for the guys to start a relationship while Nick is in rehab. Although clearly both men find the other attractive, they are really building a friendship during this time and nothing more. Even after Nick gets out, the guys move very slowly into their relationship. And even though they are friends for months before anything happens between them, time moves quickly through the story. Soon the sexual tension begins to grow between them and when they finally get together they are explosive. Nick is bisexual and has been with men before, but always as a top and never with someone he cares about (or even knows his name). With Luka, Nick is totally different and the scenes between them are scorching hot.
A few small things bothered me a bit. First, I was annoyed at Luka for telling his friend Jeana that Nick was at the rehab center. She is his best friend and apparently Luka can’t resist her inquisitiveness, but I still felt like it was a major violation of Nick’s privacy and didn’t sit well as one of our first introductions to Luka. I also found myself sort of confused as to some of the issues Nick has with going public with Luka. We see very clearly that Nick has the public image of never settling down and having a new person in his bed every night. So going public with any relationship is obviously a big deal. But he tells Luka early on he is into guys as well and even that the paparazzi have photographed him with men. So I was confused when it seemed like the fact that Luka was a man was such an issue, rather than that Nick was serious about anybody at all. However, I think both of those were small issues for me.
The Luckiest was a really great story and perhaps my favorite out of the series. I would definitely recommend reading all of them as I think it is a fabulous series. Certainly if you intend to read more than one you should read this after Moonlight Becomes You as this book has MAJOR spoilers for that story. I loved watching Nick pull his life back together and figure out how to have the life he really wants. He and Luka are great together and super hot and I loved both the characters. This book (and the entire series) is highly recommended.