Rating: 4.75 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
After 17 years together, Sivan Cruz and Walter Wainwright have decided the time has come to divorce. Now that their children are out of the house, they realize they have grown apart, neither one really seeing the other any more. They are more glorified roommates than lovers and partners, and Sivan suggests that it is time to just end things. But as the months go by, both men realize that being apart is harder then they expected. That the love and the bond between them isn’t gone, it just got lost in the midst of daily life and failed communication. With neither man happy being apart, they both realize that if they work on it, they may have a future together after all.
So I will admit, lovers reunited is not usually my favorite trope. I love the experience of two people discovering each other and falling for one another, and that is often missing from this type of story. But I think Calmes did an amazing job here creating a really unique and rich story of two men finding their way back from the brink and rediscovering their love for one another. One of the reasons this really worked for me is that we see Sivan and Walter in all stages of their relationship. We flash back briefly to when they first meet and see how they get together. We also see them as they are breaking up, right as they are at their worst and think they have no future together. And finally we watch them over time as they learn to live apart, while at the same time realizing they want nothing more than to be together. It made for a very layered story with a lot of richness as we see the relationship change and develop throughout the book.
Calmes also gives us great characters in Sivan and Walter. At first Walter seems so stuffy and uptight, especially when compared to the more artistic and free spirited Sivan. Walter is big and strong, a caretaker and someone who wants rules and process. But at the same time with Sivan he is all passion and heat, dominance and just the right amount of confident smugness. He is magnetic and it is easy to see why Sivan falls so fast and hard for him. Walter is also full of determinination. We see right from the start that he wants Sivan, has wanted him for a long time, and Walter doesn’t give up easily. I loved this passage from right after they have a quickie in the Sivan’s office for the first time. You can just feel the energy between them (this is from Sivan’s POV and Walter speaks first):
“Come home with me.”
Even though I thought my armor was back in place, it wasn’t. I was vulnerable, as was evident from the way I wanted to touch him.
“Please,” he added the second time. “Come home with me.”
“I want to do that in a bed.”
“And could we maybe eat?” he offered playfully.
“You hate me,” I said bluntly.
I put my hands on my hips. “You don’t have to.”
“What? Feed you?”
“So I can take you home without feeding you?”
“I have a dog,” he threw out.
“What does that have to do with anything?” He was so weird.
“Everybody likes dogs. Come over and see the dog.”
“His name’s Rugby.”
“Why are we talking about the dog?”
“Because I don’t know you well enough yet to know what to say to get you to come home with me.”
“Why do you care?”
“Because you’re supposed to,” he insisted. “I know it.”
“I’m kind of high-maintenance,” I made certain he knew.
“Oh, I’m sure.” He smirked before he leaned in and grabbed me.
Nobody ever hugged me. I was kissed, fucked, mauled, and held down, but hugged—held, crushed to another’s heart—that never happened.
So as I melted against him, my palms flat on his back, molding my body to his larger one, my reaction surprised me.
“Let me take you out to dinner and see if you can stand me, all right?”
If I opened my mouth, I would cry, and since that was not allowed to happen, I nodded against his shoulder.
“Thank you for noticing me before I had a heart attack.”
I had no snappy retort.
Sivan too is as interesting character. He is an artist, more free and impulsive, but also the more nurturing. We can see that the conflict between these men comes from the different ways they show their love. Walter wants to take care of things, work hard to earn enough to take care of the family, solve problems and take action. And Sivan wants to talk about his love and his feelings. So with different ways of communicating, these two slowly slip away from each other, neither recognizing the other’s love and feeling neglected. Calmes does a nice job of showing how they finally start to see that the love and feelings are still there, and that Walter and Sivan just need to be open to seeing it and showing it.
My only small quibble is I wished for some more time spent really showing what went wrong. We start the story just as these guys are breaking up, so we never really see where the problems are. Most of the issues are told to us over the course of the story, never really shown. I wasn’t necessarily looking for all the dirty details, but I did sometimes feel like I didn’t fully understand how the men reached this point and what the major conflicts were about.
But this story is really wonderful and a real winner. It is rich and layered and really takes the reader on a journey through the lives of Walter and Sivan. And despite the fact that they are going through trouble, it never felt overly sad or weighed down. Instead their interactions all crackle with energy, and it is clear to us as readers that these guys are meant to be together. Still is warm and sexy and beautifully done, and I highly recommend it.