Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
Ben Cooper has spent his life trying to please his father, even going so far as to give up his dream of a career as a professional soccer player. With his dad’s temper and drinking problem, it was easier for Ben to try and keep the peace. His one refuge has always been his best friend, Spencer Henderson. Spence has been his rock and his confidant for years. But it’s only recently that Ben realizes his feelings for Spence go much deeper.
Spencer is in love with Ben, but is convinced that Ben doesn’t feel the same. That is reinforced when Ben starts dating Suzie. Spence starts to distance himself from Ben, but one night after pizza and beer, Spence and Ben end up in bed together. The next morning, Spence takes off to stay with his aunt. He needs to sort out his own feelings, and he knows that Ben can benefit from his time away as well. With Spence gone, he’s hoping Ben will focus on his own life and find what will make him happy.
Spencer avoids everyone’s calls and texts while he’s away. Though Ben is desperate to talk to Spence, he has no way of contacting him because he doesn’t know where he went. When Spence finally calls Ben, Suzie answers the phone, and Spend misinterprets what she tells him. Convinced, that Ben doesn’t love him, Spence his heartbroken. But when Ben gets hurt, nothing can keep Spencer from his side.
I came away from reading this book with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I really enjoyed these two guys and I always love friends to lovers story. But on the other, I felt like their lack of communication dragged on for far longer than it should and I spent a great deal of time just waiting for them to get their act together. I liked it, and I thought the characters were great, but I had some issues.
Ben is the kind of guy that always tries to do the right thing. He gave up his dream of being a professional soccer player to start his own landscaping business to please his father. He takes care of his mother and sister, always being there for them in the face of his father’s verbal, and sometimes physical, abuse. He relies heavily on the emotional support of his friends, especially Spencer. He is hardworking and loyal, and I liked him a lot. As he was realizing the depths of his feelings for Spence, his emotions felt real. He knew what he wanted, though he had trouble articulating it, and he took steps toward revealing himself to Spencer. He was even willing to give Spencer space when he thought that’s what the man needed. When he finally stood up to his father, I gave a little cheer. He was finally in a place where he could do what he felt was right, and he was willing to protect those he loved. I really felt that it was the last hurdle he needed to overcome in order to be his own man. I liked his growth throughout the book.
Spencer, though, was a bit of mixed bag for me. I started out really liking him, but then found myself a bit annoyed. I appreciated that he didn’t know how Ben would react if he revealed his feelings, and I liked that he was more worried about his friendship with Ben than his own happiness. He really wanted nothing more for Ben than for the man to do what was best for him. I loved that he always had Ben’s best interest at heart and that he wanted to be a solid support for Ben.
But Spencer continually jumped to conclusions, misinterpreted things, and didn’t wait for an explanation. This got a bit irritating, and I wanted to shake him and tell him to just have a conversation already. And that’s where I had the biggest problem with this book. The lack of communication was the biggest hurdle between these two, and it lasted literally all the way through the book. It wasn’t until the very end that they finally got together in any real way, and when they did, we didn’t get to see any conversation or resolution. Ben got hurt, Spencer came home, and that was just it. They knew they were in love with each other, declared it, and moved on. I spent the entire book waiting for the big reveal, and for these two guys to finally admit their feelings, and then it was over in the blink of an eye. I would have forgiven the drawn out lack of communication if I could have seen their love really bloom at the end. I’ll admit, I felt cheated by not getting to see more. I would have really liked the revelation to have come a bit earlier in the story, and then get to spend a little time with them living out their HEA.
So really, it was a good story, but the end left me feeling unsatisfied. I liked these guys, and wanted them to have their happily ever after. But the glimpse we got wasn’t enough to justify their long internal conflict for me. However, the writing was really solid and enjoyable, so if you’re looking for a quick read with two really likable characters, then add this one to your list.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.