Chandler has spent his adult life devoted to caring for various family members – grandmother, parents, and now his brother Raymond who suffers from both physical and mental health problems. His last boyfriend, who stuck with him through most of it while working towards getting his advanced degree, took off after deciding he could no longer handle Chandler’s problems. Now thirty-eight, Chandler finds himself single and living in a trailer park with his brother who is anything but thankful for everything Chandler does for him. It is no wonder that he suffers anxiety and obsessive compulsive tendencies.
While outside performing one of his morning rituals, Chandler notices his new neighbor struggling to get his car started. When the young man later knocks on his door asking for a ride, Chandler hesitates momentarily before the caregiver in him kicks in and he finds himself driving the twenty-five year old Marcus to work.
Marcus is everything Chandler is not. He’s biracial, tattooed, young, and streetwise. Marcus lives for today. As Marcus begins to pull Chandler out of his shell, Chandler wonders why a guy like Marcus would want anything to do with someone like Chandler and all his baggage. Little does he know that Marcus has a bit of baggage all his own, and when the truth about Marcus and his past comes to light, it’s Chandler who has to decide whether he is willing to accept Marcus’ baggage.
Jeff Erno has done it again! If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading one of his stories, you don’t know what you are missing. He creates characters and storylines that reach out and grab you and drag you into their world. This story is no different – despite the book cover that, to be quite honest, was anything but appealing. Seriously, I rarely comment on book covers, but this one has to be one of the worst covers I’ve ever seen. To be completely honest with you, had I seen this book in a bookstore, I probably wouldn’t have even picked it up to see what the book was about; it’s just not pleasing to the eye at all. Yet, once you open up the cover, you are treated to an amazing story!
Chandler is the type of person that we all wish we had in our life. Giving himself to a fault, there isn’t anything he isn’t willing to do to ensure that the people in his life have the proper care – even if it means putting his own life on hold, indefinitely. Beginning with his mother, then grandmother, then father, then nephew, Chandler’s suffered tragedy after tragedy. He’s given so much of himself to others that he no longer has a life of his own.
To say Chandler has low self-esteem would be an understatement. He’s convinced it was all his baggage that made his ex-boyfriend take off – so convinced that he never tried to move on. Enter Marcus…
Marcus is everything Chandler is not. Yet when he asks Chandler for a ride to work, Marcus finds his caregiver-side of him eager to step in and help.
Marcus is living with his brother at the trailer park, he is forced to take whatever that brother dishes out, just for a place to stay. When he meets Chandler, he’s determined to bring him out of his shell, while at the same time only revealing part of himself. As Chandler and Marcus find themselves falling in love with one another, Marcus’ brother spills his secret and their relationship is in jeopardy.
What I liked best about this book was that there was such romance blooming between Chandler and Marcus. While the intimate scenes between Chandler and Marcus, both inside and outside the bedroom, are steamy, it was the romance between these two that made me believe that this was a couple that could withstand whatever was going to be thrown at them.
The secondary characters help bring this story alive, particularly Chandler’s brother Raymond. Raymond suffers from a hereditary disease that has plagued Chandler’s family. Debilitated by a stroke, he was unable to care for his own son – Alex. Always the caregiver, Chandler stepped in to raise him. While Raymond lived in his own world, and at times was not very nice towards Chandler or his sexuality, readers will be pleasantly surprised at the depth of feelings Raymond had for his brother and his own struggles with his sexuality.
Overall, this was a feel good story with just the right amount of angst. The characters may not be perfect, but they are real and will draw you into their lives. I highly recommend.