Remarkable RestraintRating: 3.5 stars
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Length: Novella

Chaz and Justin have been best friends for years. Roommates in college and now in graduate school, they do everything together and think they know everything about each other. Chaz has always had feelings for Justin and thinks he has been successfully hiding his sexuality from Justin. Chaz has no idea that Justin is even interested in men and completely in the dark that Justin is interested in him.

As summer break approaches, Chaz finds it harder to hide his attraction to Justin and tries to avoid him. He just has to steer clear of him until Justin leaves for the summer to volunteer in Central America, as Chaz feels some distance is just what he needs. Justin knows something is up with Chaz and is determined to find out why Chaz is avoiding him, especially since Justin is ready for something more than friendship with Chaz. When Chaz won’t give him any answers, Justin resorts to his own measures and ties Chaz to the bed. The results are highly charged and start to fulfill all of their secret longings. But, the shift in their dynamics is abrupt and there is no time for talking before Justin has to leave. With two months of separation ahead of them, Chaz and Justin’s friendship is put to the test. The choice is to either try and just stay friends or evolve their relationship into so much more.

This book starts in present day and then quickly takes us to a flashback two months prior. We get a good sense of the friendship and relationship between Chaz and Justin and then the rather erotic defining moment that alters the course of their friendship. The writing here is well done and the longing and attraction between the two men is quite evident. Their relationship suffers from a few usual suspects, the most prevalent being a lack of communication and misunderstandings. The flashback takes up a rather large portion of the book and there is only the one scene where Chaz and Justin are together. The rest of the time, they are thinking about or talking about each other with friends.

Justin then leaves the country and Chaz is on his own for a huge portion of the rest of the book. This was the area that did not work as well for me as the guys are not nearly together enough for my liking. Before Justin takes off, he leaves Chaz a package with several sexual gifts in it. Chaz is supposed to open them and try them out. Chaz becomes slightly obsessed with the package, wants to open only one a week, and organizes the gifts and names them according to size and shape. The gifts are a big focus here and we don’t get to see him open all of them or even hear about some of them and this area felt unfinished. While Justin is away, Chaz spends a good amount of time with his neighbor and friend, Andy, as Chaz is just waiting for the two months to pass for Justin to return. A lot of his interactions had the feeling of being filler just waiting for Justin to come back.

When Justin does return it is almost the end of the book. Their dynamic together again is explosive. But, as soon as they are together, the book ends. I did like the friends to lovers aspect of their relationship and there was some light bondage D/s overtones going on which would have been interesting to explore further. This book is the first in a series and since we were introduced to several characters that could have stories, it is not clear if the series will continue with Justin and Chaz or move on to other characters. I would be interested to move on to the next book in the series to see where it is going, but overall, with this book, I would have preferred more time to see the guys together as they spent too much time apart here for my taste.

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