This is the third book in the Flight HA1701 series surrounding the crash of the plane in the hills of Ireland. Each book is a standalone read and involves at least one person who survived the crash and how the world shifted in the aftermath.
Bly is a shy, but attractive, Englishman on his first flight across the pond to meet with renowned furnishings makers and discuss expanding his custom upholstery creations business. He’s taken his motion sickness meds and has had a bit of a tipple to settle his jangled nerves, but the best anxiety medicine he encounters is Marc, his sexy steward. Being under a few influences, Bly is able to reciprocate Marc’s suggestive flirting. And yes, had they been in flight when they made it to the back lavatory, they would have joined the Mile High Club.
Marc is a flyboy of the flamboyant sort. He’s a legend in his company for his high energy hijinks and sultry sexcapades. He is unashamedly proud of being a catch and never afraid to be caught. He’s attracted to Bly, and he goes for it with his usual abandon, hoping to turn their lavatory lovin’ into a bit more while Bly stays in Chicago, Marc’s home base.
But they don’t make it to Chicago. The plane goes down. Bly is unconscious soon after the plane loses altitude and is sent to a nearby hospital for his broken leg. He’s overwrought and glad he retains few memories of the crash. Still, he’s not altogether okay. His hands, which have lovingly built furniture and sewed fabrics, now lack the strength to even grasp a needle. While recovering from his psychosomatic issues, he takes up residence in a little cottage in Ireland and refuses to return home to his rural Devonshire workshop where he will not be able to work.
Marc, on the other hand, was completely conscious during the entire crash. He’s riddled with guilt over the loss of a crewmember he had harsh words with before their ill-fated departure. He was an excellent first-responder, helping the capable to de-plane and carrying the injured to a safe place while awaiting assistance from emergency services. Even weeks after the crash, he suffers graphic nightmares and insomnia and cannot report for duty. His best friend urges him to go out and socialize, but clubbing/dating holds no appeal and he’s now frightened of loud, crowded places. The airline has given him an extended leave, and he takes it to go find the one face that isn’t tormented in his flashbulb memories: Bly.
Bly is more than surprised to find Marc on his cottage doorstep, but his memories (and dreams) of their tryst are good and he’s hungry for some companionship. He invites Marc to stay with him, and as they share time they also share memories; Bly comforts Marc through his nightmares and Marc encourages Bly to use his frail hands…on him. But fantasyland always ends sometime. Bly must return to his business—orders have piled up in his absence and his family is clamoring to have him home. Marc’s job calls, and he’s not sure he even wants to do it any longer. Those long haul flights trapped in a hurtling metal missile no longer seems free and easy, but Marc’s not really qualified to do anything else.
This is a lovely hurt/comfort story, with different emotional and physical consequences of the PTSD both men clearly suffer. They take long walks and confide in each other, and they begin the descent into love. I really enjoyed how they found their missing “other half” and together they were so much stronger than alone. After several days in the idyllic space each makes strides toward healing and complete wellness.
I really enjoyed the slow build to feelings in this one. Attraction was immediate, but it is only through continued contact that these men grow together over their shared tragedy. Their cozy cottage becomes a crucible for romance, and it melds them in a way they hadn’t expected. They demand honesty from one another, and it cements their fledgling bond. It’s an emotional read, and still has room for the sexytimes. I loved how these guys started over, and had fun with each other. They certainly deserved it. While this could have been a heavy read, there was enough light-hearted elements to keep a balance. There is a clear HEA for both Marc and Bly and in the place where they both felt most comfortable, but never expected to find love. I really enjoyed it.