Mason Downing is studying at prestigious Bragson University on scholarship, and with his math grades tanking his GPA, he has no choice but to get a tutor. In order to pay for the tutor, Mason takes a temporary, part-time job driving the shuttle that carts students around campus. On his first night, he meets the sullen but beautiful Carter. They strike up a conversation about Carter’s camera and love of photography, but Mason has been working hard to blend in with the upper class students, and he gives a fake name in order to keep hiding. Which works just fine until his tutor shows up and it’s none other than Carter.
Carter Lantor has troubles of his own. His family is extremely wealthy, but he’s getting constant pressure from his father and getting into arguments with him because he doesn’t want to take over the family business and because he is gay. But despite that, Carter is still doing what he loves and he tutors students because he wants to help. Carter and Mason hit it off, and even though things go south for a bit when Carter figures out who Mason is, the guys quickly right things and begin a relationship.
Their connection is strong, and both of them are moving faster than they normally would. But it feels right and they both go for it. When Carter’s father shows up on campus, Carter doesn’t handle it well. But after a heartfelt conversation with his father, Carter thinks the man might be starting to understand. Now he just has to make sure he hasn’t ruined everything with Mason.
I love it when I read a story and I can fully understand exactly where the characters are coming from. And that’s what this short novella has. It’s not bogged down with a ton of secondary characters, and mostly we see just the interaction between the MCs. And let me tell you, I appreciated that I truly got what these characters were thinking and that they acted accordingly with their feelings. Even if I didn’t agree, I understood it, and that makes for great storytelling.
We have two young men who are hiding parts of themselves for very good reasons. At least, that’s what they think. Mason feels that he needs to fit in so that he isn’t pitied as the poor orphan, and he’s been struggling and trying to do that since he started college. But he’s determined to get a good education, and he’ll do whatever he has to in order to make that happen. Carter has his own issues, never knowing if his friends really like him or if they want to be friends because of his family’s money. Add to that an antagonistic father who wants things his way or no way, and Carter is struggling to be himself. Both MCs are incredibly well drawn, and I found myself understanding them totally. And I appreciated the way they felt like real people. Sometimes they made bad choices and screwed up, but these two guys have good heads on their shoulders and they look at things realistically while still having a positive and hopeful outlook, at least eventually. Really, I adored these two and their connection with each other, and I would have been just as happy to spend more time with them.
I did, however, have a few issues with a couple of plot points. This is a short novella and I think that the author used that medium well. We get the right amount of story and plot for the length of the book. However, I have to admit that I would have liked a couple of scenes, especially involving Carter and Mason, to stretch on just a bit farther. I would have liked to see their connection get a bit deeper, and I would have liked to be witness to that. Also, I had a little trouble with Carter’s father’s about face. Now, granted, he didn’t completely change his mind and he still showed some of his disdain, which I appreciated. But if his attitude had been as harsh as Carter described it previously, to have things fixed with a heart to heart talk seemed a little too easy to me because I couldn’t understand exactly why this time, the conversation worked.
Oh, but you guys, overall I really enjoyed this book. It had a great feeling, and ended with hope and possibility. I liked the overall progression of the plot and the characters, and despite my little quibbles, I really enjoyed it. If you’re looking for a quick, sweet, well-written read, with just enough angst to give the story heft, then I suggest you give this one a try.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.