Rating: 4.75 stars
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Tucker Gray has just returned from a mysterious absence that wasn’t the vacation his friends thought it was. Jesse Bauer has recently been forced to retire from the Marines due to a devastating shoulder injury. When both are thrown a joint welcome home party that neither one of them is particularly excited about, they run into each other, and the spark is impossible to ignore.
While Jesse has had feelings for men in the past, he’s gotten used to pushing them down, not in small part to his job in the military and the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. He’s gotten so good at ignoring that part of himself that he’s been involved with a woman named Miranda for eight years. When he meets Tucker at the party, he realizes those feelings aren’t as deeply buried as he thought. Tucker himself is still reeling from a traumatic incident, and while he also feels the instant chemistry for Jesse, it’s easy for him to walk away when he sees that Jesse is seriously involved with a woman.
With his best friend, Alison, at his side, a year goes by and Tucker starts to heal. Jesse only feels more confused about his inability to let go of the memory of the night at the party. When Tucker and Jesse meet again, neither one is as eager to spend another year apart. They both have a lot of secrets and difficult decisions to make, and it’s not going to be easy to make this relationship work. The question becomes whether their undeniable chemistry is enough to overcome the obstacles that lie in their path.
This book is not at all what I expected, and I mean that in a very good way. Kade Boehme has a writing style I’ve always enjoyed. It’s very casual and funny and, yes, a little bit bitchy, but it also has a ton of heart. The characters can tease each other mercilessly one minute, but you know that they would take a bullet for the other person without a moment’s hesitation. So when the novel started at a party, with two men who have an instant attraction, I expected what is only a small part of this book — a funny, light-hearted romance. What I got nearly tore my soul to pieces, but the overall tone of the book kept it from getting too heavy-handed or overwhelming.
The characters in Don’t Trust the Cut are what makes this book great. Alison, Tucker’s best friend, is his best friend and rock, yet can tear him down with a single biting comment. Their relationship is fun and sweet and it’s obvious it’s the one thing keeping Tucker from falling apart. In the same vein, I really enjoyed Jesse’s girlfriend, Miranda. Too often the girlfriend is portrayed as a horrible shrew, so that when the MC decides to pursue his love interest, we don’t feel sorry for her at all. Boehme, taking a risk, made Miranda quite likeable. Yes, she makes a few mistakes, but nothing you can fault her for, given the circumstances. These female characters are portrayed as flawed, wonderfully complicated people, and I loved them both.
Let’s not forget our two MCs, Jesse and Tucker. There are some couples that make you sigh whenever they’re together, and this is one of those couples. There’s an instance in the middle of the book where Tucker believes Jesse has left for the night only to hear him return to his room. That scene killed me. It was so full of hope and love and fear of that same hope and love, and while many times throughout the story I wondered how things could possibly work out for the two of them, I never gave up on the beautiful bond they had together — especially when things get real, and I mean things really do hit rock bottom before they can be built back up again. It destroyed me to watch the characters suffer, but I had faith in their bond with each other.
There were a couple of little issues I had with the book. I felt like there were a few too many instances of miscommunication and hasty decisions that led to horrible long-term consequences, and when those things could be avoided with a quick sit down? I get a little bit frustrated. I understand that one of the characters was dealing with serious issues that he had not fully addressed, so his decision making was not at its best, but Jesse’s wishy-washiness bothered me as well.
Overall, I loved this book in large part because of Boehme’s clever banter between characters that is uniquely his style. It’s not always sweet and romantic, but it’s real and emotional and will leave its mark on you for days. I highly recommend it and look forward to this author’s next book.