Desperate for a new start after leaving an abusive relationship, Luke remains anxious and looking for work. His friend Brandon has offered him a few hours at his design store and a place to stay, but Luke definitely needs more. He accepts a job remodeling a beach house for Michael, a professional soccer player. The job was set up online through Jamie, whom Luke believes is Michael’s girlfriend. Before the job even officially begins, Luke knows that all is not what it seems with Michael and things become complicated early on.
Having only bought the beach house recently, Michael is recuperating there from a knee injury that has him temporarily sidelined. Originally not all in with the remodel, he finds it may be a good way to keep his mind occupied during his recovery. Falling for one pretty, giggling designer named Luke was certainly not in his plans. He intended to get back to playing soccer and stay firmly in the closet. Nothing goes as planned as Michael is being blackmailed and a life with Luke may just prove to be the one thing more important than his career.
There is a bit of opposites attract going on here with Luke being an openly gay designer and Michael the dark, brooding professional athlete. This story has a bit of a wandering feel to it. The premise upfront of how Luke gets the design job tests realistic boundaries somewhat, but the story does move quickly from there. The story is told solely from Luke’s POV, so for a while we don’t know what Michael is really thinking. The story sets up with a blackmail theme, which is a catalyst for other events in the book, but that initial storyline did not really go anywhere. A lot of other story lines are brought in as well, such as Luke’s abusive ex, Michael’s Latino background, Luke’s mother, and Michael’s best friend and former lover Alex, but there is no true focus on any of them. Storylines are introduced, we get bits here and there of each of them, but then the story would shift to another area.
Michael claims he has to watch every move to keep up appearances for his career, yet he is careless time and again when out in public. Luke had originally wanted to be a romance writer and there is a conversation about what he likes and dislikes about romance books and it gave me the feeling that I was being told what I was supposed to like about this book. The first time the men are together their intimate dialogue has a scripted feel to it that pulled me out of the story, but other encounters are more intimate and brought me back in. There is no real in depth conflict for the guys until much later in the story, almost at the end. And when we get to the end, after Michael is rather hurtful to Luke, there is still no full on conversation shown about the next steps that their relationship will take. The guys just sort of arrive at the epilogue.
Overall, I am mixed on this one. I like the premise, but the storyline went off in several directions and lost the intended impact on me. Luke’s friend, Brandon, is a secondary character who is noticeable in each scene he is in and will be the focus of the next book in the series. There is just enough there to have me interested in that one. The Right Words does offer two different men, a designer and an athlete, that are attracted to each other and trying to figure out their place in the world.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.