Rating: 4 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Length: Short Story
To the rest of the world Steve Campbell seems to have it all together. He is an extremely successful physicist who is well regarded for his work. He has plenty of money that allows him to buy flashy things. And he is an outgoing guy, the social half of his business partnership with his best friend Connor Morrison. But underneath Steve is restless and unhappy. He is lonely and out of sorts and even his usual conquests are not providing him with much satisfaction. And although he can’t quite admit it, part of what is throwing Steve is seeing Connor with his new love. Steve is jealous of the time Connor spends with Wes and realizes that his feelings for Connor may run deeper than friendship.
A chance encounter in a bar with an attractive escort begins to change things for Steve. Meeting Dylan gets Steve out of his funk, opening him up to the realization that his interest in men may be more than a fleeting college experiment. Dylan helps Steve build up his confidence, get himself out of the stodgy professorial rut he has been in, and start to think about what he wants out of life. And even if he has missed his chance with Connor, maybe Steve can find love and happiness for himself after all.
I was quite interested when I heard about Doubtless, a followup to Grant’s short story Priceless. Steve plays a significant role in that story and was the cause of most of my problems with it. So I was really curious to see how things would play out in Steve’s own story, and whether I could find some redemption for him. And I am happy to say that in this story Steve worked much better for me.
I think for people who come right into this as their first introduction, Steve is perfectly likable and quite sympathetic. However, even after my issues with him in Priceless, I found Steve much more relatable and self-aware here. He recognizes mistakes in his past behavior and that the direction his life is going is just not working. I could feel for him as the guy who realizes that his life is slipping through his fingers and if he wants a positive change than he needs to take some action to fix it. I wish I had a bit better sense of what caused this formerly confident and together guy to slide in the first place. Maybe it is all about Connor, but I wish this was a bit more developed so that we could understand the seemingly sudden change. But I could feel for him as his confidence fades a bit at a time until he just doesn’t quite know how to fix it.
I also enjoyed the bit of a switch up in the usual prostitute/client story line where here Steve is the one who needs saving. As an escort Dylan is happy, confident, and knows exactly where he is going and how to get there. He doesn’t need money and certainly doesn’t need rescuing. So I thought that was a interesting twist on this trope to see how Dylan is able to motivate Steve to renewed confidence and the ability to figure out what he wants and go for it.
I will note that this isn’t really a romance and there is no HEA or even HFN. This book is more of a story of someone finding himself, a journey of self-discovery, and taking the first steps to getting his life back on track. And I actually really liked that. There is no magical overnight fix, but there are clear signs that things are headed in the right direction and a positive future is in store for Steve.