Andy Marshall is a bit of a fussy out gay man who has recently separated from his long-term boyfriend, Charlie, and returned to London to start over. He moves into Greenwich and begins making friends, Naomi being the first. She’s a work colleague who lives near him and invites him out for drinks on a Friday. She’s not excited to introduce Andy to her husband’s friends however, because they are all members of an amateur dramatics company, the Sarky Players. Andy is happy to connect with them, as he did drama back in uni, and thinks taking it up again might fit with his life makeover.
In the process, Andy meets Ryan and Phil, both out gay men, too. Andy is cast as the rector in an atrocious, irreverent, and bawdy comedy that involves Ryan as a costar and Phil as the props manager. Phil is very attractive to Andy, but emotionally unavailable as he has recently broken off (for good this time!) with his long-time, abusive partner. Andy commits his time to the Sarky Players and their preposterous play, and takes on a cautious friendship with Phil. It seems that Phil wants more, but he pulls away time and again. It’s all so confusing!
This is a breezy read with delicious Brit humor that got me laughing. I do like Andy. He’s all about lists and adding up the pros and cons of a situation, which is completely in character for this professional accountant. He’s a decent bloke, always ready to assist his geriatric neighbor with a blown light bulb, or be the rock Phil needs at a gallery opening. I kinda felt bad for him regarding Phil, because there is a lot of mixed messages going on. And, also because he’s so mortified about his role in the play. He can’t get out of it, even though he wants to, because he’s involved in a bit of spying on behalf of Naomi—and her (potentially philandering) hubby. This strikes all Andy’s bells because Charlie was a cheater and it was one of the last slights Andy took before leaving. I ached for Andy to find a decent guy to share his mostly empty flat with, so, when his sister attempts to play matchmaker, I hoped it would work out. Unfortunately, it leaves Andy at his wit’s end. For the first time in his life he seems to have a handle on his world, and he’s steering it in the direction he wants to take.
I really appreciated that Andy stood up for himself in his relationships. He definitely feels as if he has the right to ask for fidelity and companionship, and won’t settle for less. This is in opposition to how he feels about himself as a partner. He has no illusions about his looks or sexiness, but offers himself as he is—and that is attractive to the right man. I liked the slow build once Andy agreed to date Phil officially. He and Phil take time to discuss their pasts and what they envision for their futures. It’s heartwarming and tender and I really connected with that.
As for the book as a whole, the story is engaging and kept me interested. I always want an early connection, and was a little frustrated by the one-step-forward, two-steps-back going on with Andy and Phil. That is my issue, however, and I enjoyed watching the quiet development of feelings on Andy’s side. He knows his heart longs for Phil, but he’s circumspect about it, ensuring he will not get hurt like he had with Charlie. That open communication was excellent. I appreciated that Phil had been hurt, too, and understood how guarded he needed to be, though this really wasn’t revealed until pretty late in the story. Don’t expect a lot of heat, because there’s just one sexy scene and it’s not long. It is so sweet, however.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.