Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
For reasons unknown to them, shy, nervous Phil, and confident, outgoing Lee, feel the tendrils of attraction. The men met when a water heater pipe bursts, flooding Phil’s work and living space, and the attraction is immediate understandably confusing.
Phil is torn between wanting to be with people and wanting to be alone, having lived through a horrific childhood, fraught with abandonment and physical abuse. Phil’s reluctance to go all the way with Lee is stressing him out. He knows that it is his issue, but fears that Lee will get fed up and leave him.
It turns out that Lee is more observant than we give him credit for and when he is roughed up by some local thugs, he keeps the incident a secret, admitting that he did not want to freak Phil out. The revelation prompts Phil to finally tells Lee about his past, explain the scars, and express his fears.
Lee wants to build a life with Phil, regardless of his past, and decides to buy a house, a safe haven for him and the man he loves. When the noises in the neighborhood cause a severe panic attack that cause Phil to run fast as he can from the house, and Lee, all Phil can wonder is if he messed things up with Lee for good.
There is a strangely deep connection between Lee and Phil from the get-go, from the initial encounter to all subsequent interactions. Lee is the instigator, of that we have no doubt, and what is not explicitly stated, is that shy Phil is quite the looker. I would not say love at first sight, but there was something that drew these guys together and it never seemed contrived. In fact, Lee’s mom gives us the key to his behavior at one point. So, in saying all of that, I liked the character development of both main characters, and also found the secondary characters to be well thought out and executed, especially Jerry, Phil’s father figure, and Lee’s sister, the sweet, artistic Becca. Is everything sunshine and unicorns? Hell, no! Phil is incredibly high maintenance, but so likeable, so endearing that Lee’s attempts to court Phil are sweet.
Descoteaux shifted the POV chapter by chapter, which made it easy to keep track of who was narrating, and the fact that both Phil and Lee had different manners of speaking and behaviors also helped to keep the narrative clear. I also want to mention the title, which I thought was neat and a bit unusual, and worked perfectly with the story, but I felt the cover was kind of creepy and felt that it did not fit the title or even the story.
Pet peeve? It bugs me that Lee would get beat up and have his car vandalized and not call the police. This is not high school, Lee.
Favorite line: “That’s right, not all gay themed stories end in death, dammit.”
I knew I was going to get some angst based on the blurb, but I never found it excessive, and I really enjoyed story, even though it was a bit dark. If you are a fan of great characterization, tough childhoods, and a solid story, you should try The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.