Seventeen years ago, Rick Turner kissed a boy and got himself beaten for doing it. Now, he is deeply closeted, hiding who he is and what he wants from everyone around him. When his friends-with-benefits dumps him and moves in with a woman, Rick tries to drink his sorrows away at a local bar. Getting into a fist-fight, he ends up getting picked up by a cop-and-counselor team…and the counselor is none other than the first boy he kissed.
Stan Gable is a social worker turned police counselor who relishes fixing people’s problems, whether his help is wanted or not. When the cruiser pulls up and he encounters a grownup Rick, Stan tries to step in and counsel Rick to come out of the closet.
Rick isn’t open to Stan fixing his life and he sure as hell isn’t open to reliving the day they kissed. When his boss forces him to seek out some ways to manage his anger, Rick must turn to Stan. As Stan and Rick reignite those feelings they had back when they were teenagers, will Rick be able to step out of the closet he’s built around himself? Or, will Stan’s guilt over what happened that night destroy whatever hope they have?
While this is the fifth book in Daisy Harris’ Fire and Rain series, it can be read as a standalone. For those of you who have read the series, Rick is the firefighter who had some issues when another firefighter came out of the closet, and now we find out why. For those of you who haven’t read the series, the author provides enough background so that readers don’t feel like they are missing anything.
Rick Turner has been living in the closet. He’s been carrying on a long-term relationship with Jordan, his neighbor/booty call, for the last few years. Despite being in a long-term relationship with a man, Rick has still managed to convince himself that he isn’t gay, because their relationship only consisted of him getting a blowjob while Jordan pleasured himself.
Stan is an out and proud gay man. When he reconnects with Rick, he relishes the opportunity to help Rick as a means of appeasing his own guilt at what happened that night back when they were teenagers. Only Rick isn’t looking for the type of help he’s offering. When Rick does come looking for help in finding a therapist and a yoga class, Stan finds himself attending yoga classes to ensure Rick goes.
As the two begin hanging out together, Rick struggles with accepting the fact he’s gay and always has been. Despite others in his department coming out of the closet, Rick isn’t sure how his sexuality will be accepted if he came out to them. Fortunately for him, it seems as if he was the last to know about his sexuality. Meanwhile, Stan is walking on eggshells because he isn’t sure where Rick draws the line with their relationship. Is he just a booty call? Or, is there something more there? Regardless, Stan wants whatever it is Rick is willing to give him.
As a romance, I liked the idea of two teenagers, one of whom is beaten for being caught kissing another boy, reuniting as adults. I also liked that Rick struggles with the label of being gay, though he’s okay with actually doing gay things. What I didn’t like was that I just wasn’t feeling the chemistry between these two as adults. It was almost as if Rick, now minus a booty call friend, was looking to Stan to be that booty call. I would have liked to have seen more of a romance between the brewing rather than the entire book focusing on them dealing with what happened that night way back when, because they really didn’t do a whole lot of talking except about Rick being closeted and Stan’s guilt over what happened.
The sexy-times between these two are sweet, if somewhat unbelievable. Things just are not going to go as smoothly as they did, especially when one of the parties has never had anal sex before. One would have expected there to be more hesitation on Rick’s part to jump right in since he was still coping with just admitting to himself he was gay.
Overall, for me, this was just an okay read. It definitely not my favorite book of the series. I would have liked to have seen a bit more romance between the two, but I liked reading the back story about a character I didn’t much like in the previous books.