Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.25 stars
Narrator: Gregory Salinas
Length: 7 hours, 38 minutes
Mark Smith catches his boyfriend cheating and ends the relationship. Several months later, while at work as the charge nurse on the SICU, he meets the new cardiothoracic surgeon fellow. Dr. Trevor Hayes is beautiful, and Mark is attracted to him, but Mark thinks that getting involved again would be a bad idea, and getting involved with someone he works with a doubly bad idea. Trevor, however, is charming and persuasive, and Mark eventually says yes to his advances.
Internally, though, Mark knows that Trevor is only in town for his job, and once his fellowship ends, Trevor will be moving on. Mark uses that as justification for getting involved with Trevor. At least he knows when it will end, and they can have a good time together until then. Because of his past, Mark doesn’t want to let his heart get too involved. Trevor is all kinds of wonderful and Mark cares for him a great deal. But Mark is stubborn and sometimes jumps to conclusions, and when Trevor confesses his love during an argument, Mark doesn’t handle it well. Eventually, they work things out, but feelings are never talked about again.
When tragedy strikes Trevor’s family, Mark is at his side as a constant support. Though talk of love still makes him nervous, everyone can see the depth of his connection with Trevor. It isn’t until Trevor starts getting job offers, and Mark once again handles things badly, that the men have the conversation that they’d needed to for so long. But despite the declarations, Mark still holds that last bit of himself back, scared to fully commit. It takes nearly losing Trevor for good for Mark to realize just how much he wants to make a life with Trevor.
When I saw the blurb for this one, I knew I wanted to read it. A man reluctant to get involved, while the object of his interest pursues him anyway? One of my favorite tropes. And this story really didn’t disappoint. It was a great story of two men getting involved and finding their way, and I really enjoyed it.
One of the things I liked best about this book was the way the plot progressed. It was like watching the courtship of two real life people play out. We got to see the ups and downs as they navigated through their relationship. It was a smooth progression and I loved the steady pace, with each new scene bringing us just a little further into the relationship. I really liked the way the relationship started slowly and built up. They didn’t just jump right into bed together, but really built the beginnings of something solid before taking their relationship to that level. It was what made the HEA believable. Anything else wouldn’t have been fitting for these two characters.
Mark has been hurt before, and it makes him reluctant to ever get involved again. I loved the way the author portrayed this character. Mark’s emotions and feelings felt so real, and he just leapt off the page. I was right there with him when he hurt, when he had doubts, and when he was struggling to overcoming his own hesitancy. And it was clear to see from the very beginning that Trevor was exactly the right man for him. Their chemistry leapt off the page, and I was wholly invested in their relationship from word one. These two guys together were just lovely.
I particularly enjoyed Trevor, because he was such an open and honest guy. His enthusiasm was catching. I loved the way he went after Mark, and the way that he cared for him. He had such a big heart and it was shown in not only the way he interacted with Mark, but his interactions with his best friend and his family as well. This guy wears his heart on his sleeve, and it was a refreshing change for this type of character. It was really wonderful to see.
And Mark and Trevor weren’t the only well-developed characters in this story. The author did a really fantastic job of giving us secondary characters that felt real and fleshed out. It helped to build the overall story, and really gave us a total picture. Derrick in particular, Trevor’s best friend and roommate, was one of my favorite characters of the whole book. The secondary characters really gave the story a complete feeling.
Now, I really enjoyed this story, but I did have a few small quibbles. The main one being that there was some head hopping going on, especially in the beginning. When we would suddenly switch to a different character’s POV for only a couple of sentence, and then back again, it definitely pulled me out of the story. This lessened as the story went on, and I was glad for that. The other thing, and this is a personal preference, was some of the descriptions and word choices in the sex scenes. I know how hard they are to write,and have them be believable and original, but I could have done without some of the repetitive words, as well as a few less “manhoods and members.” Again, that’s a personal opinion, but it pulled me out of the scenes.
I listened to this one on audiobook, and overall, I think that Gregory Salinas did a really good job. His voice is really smooth and lovely to listen to. He did a really good job with the voices, Mark and Trevor especially, and I never had any trouble knowing who was speaking. The breaks in scenes and chapters were really clear, and I really had no issue knowing when there was a shift to a new scene. I do have to say, though, that some of his inflections during the narration of the sex scenes were a little too breathy for me. Again, personal opinion, but the voice didn’t really work for me during those scenes. But Salinas really has got a great voice, and I’d absolutely listen to other things he narrates.
This is also the first of a series, and I will absolutely be reading the next one as well. Stubborn Heart was a great story, and I recommend it to you. Whether you get it in print or audio, you’ll enjoy it.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.