Rating: 4.5 stars
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Danny Marshal lives his life out and proud with plenty of flair to spare. He enjoys wearing makeup and traditionally feminine clothes and never minds a little attention. But he is still taken aback when he attends a party with his best friend Bo and meets a guy who can’t seem to stop staring at him. It turns out the guy is Lance Lenard, brother to Bo’s new love interest. Danny can’t figure out what is up with Lance or why he has affected him so much. Lance seems like a typical straight boy jock and not the kind of guy who is usually into Danny.
But Lance keeps hanging around and definitely seems to want to spend more time with Danny. At first it seems Lance is drawn to Danny’s more feminine side as the first few times they are together Danny happens to be showcasing this look. But Lance soon admits he once had an attraction to another man and as time goes on, seems to be growing more comfortable with Danny’s manly attributes as well. Danny is totally hot for Lance and can’t get him out of his head, so he figures why not live out a fantasy and initiate the straight boy into a little no strings gay sex. As time passes, however, and the men spend more time together, Danny realizes he may be losing his heart to Lance. And although Lance is clearly attracted to Danny and has strong feelings for him, Danny knows Lance isn’t able to come out and be public with their relationship, not when his number one goal is a career in the NFL. And Danny is not interested in being a secret on the side and has his own career goals to think about. Though both men have grown to care for each other deeply, their plans and goals for the future make a relationship seem impossible. But unfortunately, both men may have already lost their hearts to one another.
So in some ways this book is a typical OFY story, but there are some places where I think Petersen brings a really unique angle to the tale. I loved that in many ways Lance is the instigator of the relationship between the two of them. Often OFY stories start with two friends who eventually recognize an attraction to one another, frequently with the gay-identifying character sort of leading things along. But here Lance is clearly into Danny from the start, even before the guys get to know each other. This isn’t friends falling into lovers, but two basic strangers who have an instant attraction, one of whom has always identified himself as straight. I love that Lance isn’t full of constant angst about what he is doing or his attraction to Danny and although they take the physical stuff slowly, he is very comfortable with Danny’s body and has no problems showing his attraction. At first, Danny assumes Lance is only attracted to his more girlish look. In fact, he intentionally plays it up the first time they go out to try to appeal to Lance. But although that may have been what draws Lance in at first, they pretty quickly move past that and it is clear that Lance loves Danny’s boy parts an awful lot too.
So I really loved both of these guys together. Danny is out and bold and confident in himself. He knows who he is and what he wants. And Lance is sweet and sexy and so loving, he sort of comes across like a bit of a cuddly bear. These guys are very sweet together and incredibly hot. I also loved Danny’s relationship with his best friend and roommate Bo. They have such a great friendship and Bo makes a nice straight man (no pun intended) to the more out there Danny.
I had a few small issues with the story, though. My biggest problem is that most of the way through the book, Danny seems to assume that Lance wants nothing long term with him, that his career goals would make a relationship impossible. It causes a lot of the conflict in the story because as much as Danny grows to care for Lance, he knows there can be no real future. But throughout the book, we get nothing directly from Lance to indicate this is the case. It seems like Danny is just making a lot of assumptions, and I found myself a bit frustrated by this lack of communication. Interestingly, in the end Danny is actually right. Which is still frustrating because I think the author could have cleared this up easily with a quick conversation between the guys that would have made it clear that Lance actually did feel the way Danny thought. I was also left wondering just what exactly Lance was thinking in all of this. Though he seems totally into Danny, I never really understood what he thought would happen to them in the future (or even what he hoped would happen). So I think this was a bit of unnecessary confusion and frustration that could have been easily cleared up.
I also think the ending resolved pretty quickly. This is a relatively long book and takes place over a good period of time. So when the resolution comes, I feel like we could have taken just a few more pages to show how it all works out. The guys come to an agreement, then we jump to some period later where all the details have been resolved. I would have liked to see more of how this actually happens and how these roadblocks are overcome.
But those issues aside, I really enjoyed this one quite a lot. Great heroes, interesting storyline, nice combination of sweet and sexy. There is a lot to like here and I definitely recommend it.