Since losing his parents six years ago, when he was barely 18, Cal McCorkle has been just trying to keep it together. All the family he now has in the world is his great uncle Nascha, who has Alzheimer’s and has more bad days than good, and his brother Keir, who has a myriad of psychological disorders that require a precise cocktail of meds to manage. Cal works two jobs just trying to make ends meet, keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, and buy the medicines his family needs. He’s exhausted and overwhelmed, but he keeps plugging along. Cal is unhappy, but family is the most important thing in the world for him.
Avery Kennedy is supporting his boyfriend with his freelance writing career, living in a crappy apartment, and writes fanfic for the popular TV show Wolf’s Landing to decompress and relax. No one in his real life seems to understand, respect, or accept him. When his boyfriend makes a jab about their finances, it’s the last straw for Avery. He disentangles their lives, hoping for a fresh start. But they break up instead and Avery makes the decision that when he goes to the Wolf’s Landing convention in two weeks, he’s actually moving to Washington and is going to leave his life behind. But a series of unfortunate events have him barely making it to Washington and breaking down 50 miles outside of Bluewater Bay.
An accident on the fishing boat leaves Cal with an injury and infection to his leg that laid him out for a month, and he’s just starting to get back on his feet when he sees a car stopped on the side of the road. Cal and his brother Keir offer Avery a ride into town. And Avery talks to Keir like a human being, immediately understanding how to communicate with the young man. Cal is astounded, and feels the need to help Avery out further for that kindness. Though Cal’s life is not conducive to dating and Avery’s life is up in the air, their connection is strong and they decide to give a relationship a go “until they can’t.” But it’s clear immediately to both men that what they have is much deeper just a short fling. They take care of one another in the way the both need. But when Cal’s situation comes to a terrifying head, the time for their relationship might just be over.
So first off, this story is part of the Bluewater Bay series, and like all the books, it can be read as a standalone. While it’s fun to see little cameos and mentions of previous characters, this requires no previous knowledge to work. So if you haven’t read any of the others, don’t worry.
I’m going to start out by saying this book has got a lot of sad and a lot of angst. Cal is one of those guys that just seems to get kicked while he’s down, and he’s sometimes kind of an asshole, but I could understand why. Cal is holding his family together by his fingernails, and he’s not so good with people, and you just want to hug him and shake him at the same time. He needs help, but he’s got no one to ask, and probably wouldn’t anyway. He’s got a strong moral compass and thinks he’s doing the right thing by keeping his family together and not abandoning them. You have to admire his determination. And as I was reading, I wanted nothing more for Cal to catch a break, and for something to be good in his life.
And in walked Avery.
Now, Avery had his own share of hardships. A lot of stuff was going wrong in his life too. But Avery has a completely different outlook on life. his is the guy who put himself through college and who people keep thinking can’t handle life on his own. And he keeps proving those naysayers wrong. He keeps making his life work. And when he meets the beautiful, grumpy, downtrodden Cal, Avery is smitten. And despite that, or maybe because of it, he sees to the heart of Cal.
These guys just work together. They really do. There’s mutual saving going on. Cal is the solid support Avery needs. Avery is the breath of fresh air, the good thing, that Cal needs. There was never a doubt, from the moment that these guys meet, that they are going to be everything together. Their chemistry is instant and leaps off the page. The sex is both intimate and hot, and just everything about them works.
But I’m going to be honest here and say that I had a wee quibble with the story. First off, it took Cal and Avery a long time to meet. I was kind of mixed on this. I thought all the scenes leading up to it were necessary and gave us crucial background on the characters. I really did love reading all those parts. But there was a part of me that was waiting for them to finally meet, waiting for them to get to that point because it was all leading there. So I feel a little torn, as part of me thinks it went on too long and part of me really loved all those scenes.
What worked for me best here was the realness. This story felt like it could have happened in real life. The characters were that believable, and they suffered and felt and hurt and loved and sacrificed and triumphed. And that left me with that satisfied feeling of a story well read. And I can definitely recommend this book to you.