When Kelly Seaton sees a blast from his past, a man who broke a promise and his heart, he runs. Literally. But as always his best friend Cosimo Renaldi is right there to call him on it. Kelly has been in love with Coz for years. In fact, Coz is the reason Kelly moved to Mangrove in the first place. But he knows that Coz can’t possibly feel the same way, so he keeps his mouth shut for fear of ruining their relationship.
Coz thinks that no man could ever want him, not since he lost his arm while serving in the Army. Kelly knows that Coz doesn’t see himself clearly and he longs to show Coz just how amazing he is. But it isn’t until Coz goes out on a date with another man that Kelly begins to show his true feelings. What Kelly never expected was for that to be the catalyst for Coz to see the truth.
This is the second book in Calmes’ Mangrove series, but while a couple of characters from the first book make a cameo in this one, it can definitely be read as a standalone. This novella showcases Calmes’ signature style, and as such, it was easy for me to jump in and enjoy it.
So first things first. Kelly. I adored him. Completely and totally. He’s brash and funny and honest and loyal. Sometimes he thinks before he speaks. But he’s got a heart of gold, and I simply loved watching him grow throughout this short book. Let’s be clear; he doesn’t have a long way to go. When we meet him, he’s almost there already. But the epiphanies he has, and the way he puts things into context are refreshing and fun. This guy is easy to like. And one of the things that appealed to me the most is the way he loves Coz. He understands his best friend in a way no one else does, but he also has a clear view of their relationship. And he’s terrified of something changing that. My heart hurt for him just a bit at what he’d been through in his life, but the fact that he had Coz, and Coz’s family, made everything so much better.
Coz is a little bit harder to get to know. As this book is told solely from Kelly’s POV and we only see him through Kelly’s eyes. There were times when I would have liked a little more from him, so that I could really understand him. But the two most important things about Coz are clear: his heart and the way he feels about having lost his arm. I think Calmes does an exceptional job showing those aspects. Coz has been letting his missing limb define him for so long, that he doesn’t really know how else to think. It’s only because of the trust he has in Kelly that he’s able to accept what his best friend is telling him: that he’s is beautiful and valuable. As I said, I would have liked a little more from him, but there was definitely enough to make this relationship work.
And their romance might just be my favorite part of this whole story. Yes, there were some standout moments, and I even laughed out loud at a couple of lines. But when Kelly and Coz finally got to the point where they moved from friends to lovers, that’s when this book really took off for me. The lead up before was important for plot building, but it wasn’t until these guys finally stepped toward each other that I was sucked completely into the story. If there were ever two men meant to be together, it’s Kelly and Coz. I can’t even tell you how perfectly they work together. They simply fit, complimenting and understanding each other in a bone deep way. For me, this part was perfect and made everything worth it.
So yes, I very much enjoyed this story. There were a few little issues, and I would have liked their story to be drawn out a little longer. To be honest, I can’t quite tell if that’s because there needed to be more development, or because I wanted to see more of them together. But this is really a great little novella that’s definitely worth a read.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.