Recovering alcoholic Ruben Oso has moved to New York to start his life over after his marriage fell apart. He is living on his brother Charles’ couch and working for him at his low-end security firm. When multi-millionare Andy Bauer hires Ruben for some protection services, Ruben is sure something is up. Andy is insanely wealthy and runs a powerful securities trading business. He should have the best security money can buy if he is facing a real threat, not Charles’ rinky dink company. Ruben is pretty sure Andy is either fabricating or imaging this threat, considering he is not willing to involve the police or get better security. But it is easy money and Ruben needs the work if he is ever going to get back on his feet.
Living in Andy’s penthouse is like another world. He has so much money and lives a life that is almost surreal in its decadence. Andy seems to alternate between investment shark and innocent everyman. Yet despite all that, Ruben finds himself really liking the man. He enjoys the time they spend together and really likes Andy as a person. Soon Ruben finds himself having feelings for Andy that surprise him. Ruben has never been interested in men, but he can’t stop himself from thinking about Andy romantically and sexually. But he still has no idea what is really going on with Andy and what secrets he is keeping.
When the truth about Andy’s secrets begins to come out, Ruben realizes that his feelings for Andy are even stronger than he thought. And even better, that Andy shares those feelings. But Andy has gotten himself involved in something dangerous. And Ruben is just hanging on to sobriety, and can’t handle the chaos that surrounds Andy. Ruben and Andy have found something wonderful together, but the dangers and risks in Andy’s world may be too much for their relationship to handle.
Damon Suede has a way of writing that has such gritty realism. It is an unusual style for the romance genre, but one that works so well for his stories. Suede’s writing just brings Ruben to life, makes us feel his struggles with sobriety and with his feelings toward Andy. New York City becomes more than a setting, but a part of the story. I loved the inside look we get to this rarified world of the uber wealthy. The details on Andy’s apartment and lifestyle are just fascinating. But I especially loved how we see the dark side as well. Andy is jaded, and despite his wealth and power, has little love for the society in which he grew up. So through his eyes, as well as Ruben’s outside perspective, we can really see behind the curtain into this lifestyle and community.
The story starts off introducing Ruben to Andy’s world. He moves into the apartment, gets to know Andy, and learns about his life. Ruben slowly begins to develop feelings for Andy he doesn’t really understand. I found so much of this first portion really fascinating, especially the details about Andy’s world of incredible wealth. But I did find it a little long and I wish I had more of a sense of what is drawing Ruben to Andy. Ruben finds him so charming and endearing, but we don’t see as much evidence of that as I wanted. We heard about conversations and interactions that developed Ruben’s feelings more than seeing them play out. So at times I didn’t quite have the handle on what it was that was drawing Ruben to Andy with such intensity.
There is a point in the story where things change as Ruben realizes both that the threat to Andy is real, as well as that his own feelings for Andy are impossible to deny any longer. At that point, the story really takes off, both with the romance as well as the suspense end. We learn much more about what is really going on with Andy, we see the dangers and watch the guys deal with them. And we follow along as Andy and Ruben admit their feelings for one another and begin to act on them. Again, this is where Suede really excels as their romantic and sexual connection feels so gritty and real. These are both guys who have never been with men before. Rather than fall into easy and perfect sex, we see them working out what they want, what they are comfortable with, and how being with a man changes their experience. I love the way this awakening is portrayed and it removed any of my hesitation about their connection from earlier in the book.
The story moves toward a suspense plot as Andy deals with the threats and Ruben works to protect him. I kind of expected to see this go more full throttle into suspense than it did, though I did find it interesting and exciting. I’ll admit at times I didn’t fully follow the ins and outs of the business side of things. I am not even 100% sure I got exactly what was happening at the end. But I liked that this story took me someplace unexpected.
So I really enjoyed this one. I loved Ruben as our POV character and Suede does such a wonderful job of bringing him to life. He is rough and struggling and we can feel the conflict between his love for Andy and his need to keep control of his life and his sobriety. The story is really fascinating and I loved the relationship between them. I definitely enjoyed this book and would certainly recommend it.
P.S. How about this cover? Yum!
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.