Rating: 4 stars
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When Dusty Davis bumps into a stranger on the street just after moving to California, sparks immediately fly. But Dusty is too stunned to say anything and loses his opportunity to get the gorgeous man’s name and number. He keeps an eye open for him everywhere, and to his shock, one day Dusty finally runs into him again. This time he doesn’t quite feel the same reaction, but Dusty still gives Archer his number and the men go on a few dates. Yet things still feel off. Sometimes everything is so lovely between them, and other times it is like Archer is a different person. And after a while Dusty finally figures out why. While he has been dating Archer, the man he originally ran into is Archer’s twin brother, Asher Kyriakides.
Even after Dusty realizes the mixup however, he still isn’t sure if Asher likes him, or even if he is gay. And technically Dusty is still seeing Archer, although it is becoming more and more clear Archer is not the guy for him. But after a horrible date gone wrong and a gallant rescue by Asher, Dusty and Asher finally begin to find their way together.
Once they begin dating, things really click between the two men. They both feel an instant spark and know right away that the relationship could turn into more. Dusty and Asher fall for each other hard, but even with their growing feelings for each other, things continue to be complicated for them. Asher has shame over his job as a porn photographer, even though he needs the money badly to get a place on his own instead of sharing with Archer. He worries about telling Dusty and whether Dusty will want to continue seeing him if he knows the truth. But the biggest hurdle is Archer. He is selfish, rude, and totally takes advantage of Asher. And while that is bad enough, Archer ultimately does something truly horrible that completely shakes up Asher’s whole life and leaves Asher withdrawn and desperate. Even though Dusty and Asher care deeply for one another, they still have to hope their relationship is strong enough to handle the stress.
One True Thing continues Vaughn and O’Shea’s One Thing series, following the excellent One Small Thing, a book I totally adored. This story picks up shortly after that one ends (in fact, the prologue on this book is actually the ending of the previous one) and we are once again reunited with Dusty, along with Rue, Eric, and baby Alice. I loved revisiting these characters and was so glad we got to get a bit more of their saga. I really enjoyed Dusty in the first book and was so excited to see him get his own story. He continues to be sweet and adorable, hoping for love and that magical fairy tale ending. I really liked him and loved his close relationship with his adopted family in Rue, Eric, and Alice. I also found Asher a likable guy. He is sweet and kind and thoughtful (probably way too much so where his brother is concerned). Both men are romantic and lovey and fall fast and hard for one another. At times their earnestness came close to over the top for me, but it is saved by the fact that they don’t jump into things too fast despite their feelings. Both men are aware of the short time they have been together and they take things very slow (especially sexually – they don’t do much besides kiss for 10+ dates). So the authors do give us some nice balance to the hard core romanticism of this pair.
Where I struggled was in the first section of the book as the guys seem to experience one misunderstanding after another. The biggest of course is the mistaken identity between Asher and Archer. And I get that this is the set up of the book, so it is not something I can really complain about. But it did get frustrating after a while to see the three men miss the signs over and over about what was really going on. And even aside from this big misunderstanding, there are lots of small things. For example, Dusty’s friend tells him Asher is a big player, when it turns out he is confusing Asher and Archer. And when Dusty confronts Asher about this supposed sluttiness, Asher mistakenly thinks Dusty is talking about his porn photography. I just felt like it takes a long time for everyone to figure things out, start talking to one another, and move on to the meat of the story which is the relationship between Dusty and Asher.
The other problem area for me was Archer. This guy is a total ass. Just an unredeemable jerk who is terrible to his brother and rude and obnoxious to Dusty. And I am fine with him being a jerk; I didn’t need to find out he is a wounded soul with a heart of gold inside or any of that. But I did want to understand what it was about him that was worthy enough to keep people from kicking him to the curb. At first Dusty is just confused between the feelings he had for the man he thought was Archer, and the less pleasant man who is Archer himself. So I get why early on he is willing to tolerate a bit of bad behavior. But even once Dusty discovers that the men are twins, he still goes out with Archer and still puts up with a lot of crap before finally cutting him loose. I just wish I understood what he saw in Archer to make him willing to continue dating him. I felt the same way with Asher. Yes, they are brothers and Asher feels responsible for Archer. He bails him out all the time, gets him to work, deals with his boss, and puts up with Archer’s partying and wildness. And then Archer betrays him horribly. And all through this, Asher still feels enough of a bond that he doesn’t want to hurt Archer. I guess I just needed to see more clearly what it was about Archer that was drawing these two men. We see no redeeeming qualities, nothing that would explain their feelings (beyond familial bond in Asher’s case), so I hard a hard time understanding where they were coming from. I guess I needed some more history, or some glimmer of light in the midst of the mess to understand why these guys are putting up with him.
Overall I enjoyed seeing Dusty and the gang again and I really liked Dusty and Asher together. They are sweet and hot and almost achingly romantic. Although it takes a while, when they finally get together they are super hot. I had some issues with all the misunderstandings and would have liked to see that tied up earlier and with a little less drama. And I had some trouble understanding their patience with Archer when he treats them both so terribly. So a bit of a mixed bag for me, but if you enjoyed the first book, I think the chance to revisit with some great old friends and two sweet main characters makes it worth the read. And for new folks, I’d definitely give this series a try.
Cover: Oh, I love this one. Perfectly depicts both Asher and Dusty and I love that they were able to capture Dusty’s unique look so well. And I think as a series this cover ties beautifully with One True Thing. Great job.