Andy was been on his own for a while. His mother left the family, his father disowned him for being gay, and his siblings don’t speak to him as a result. He has been living with his boyfriend, Quinn, but he stills feels unsettled. Their life is on Quinn’s terms, and Quinn may be keeping secrets. He has his best friend Dmitry and Andy may just have feelings for him, but Dmitry has announced that he will be marrying his boyfriend, Alexei. Beautiful Alexei who came to Canada from Bulgaria with a list of issues and no green card.
Andy and Alexei have never gotten along. A frightening incident had Andy seeing Alexei at his worst and, while he maintains a close friendship with Dmitry, he keeps his distance from Alexei and shoots verbal barbs about him whenever he can. When Dmitry then admits it’s over for good between him and Alexei, Andy is at first relived to have his friend back.
When Andy takes a bartending job, his new boss alerts him that a new server will be starting. When Alexei then shows up ready to work, Andy lets loose on Alexei for walking away from Dmitry. Throughout all of it, Andy can’t help being captivated by what he finally sees in Alexei, or maybe it was there all of the time and Andy wasn’t ready to see the sweet and broken man behind the beautiful face. When Alexei finds himself in even more trouble, he has no one to turn to besides Andy. Compounded by health issues and immigration troubles, Alexei decides he has no choice but to move back to Bulgaria, but Andy has fallen hard and it will take everything in him to convince Alexei that home is with him.
Sometimes different things draw you to a book. While the published blurb didn’t initially grab me as much, the cover certainly did and then finding out the book was written in first person sealed the deal. The execution, however, didn’t work as well for me. If you are interested in this book, be ready for a plentiful dose of drama, daytime drama style, where there are a lot of stories going on at once and partners change quickly. Due to this style, there is not a whole lot of character development and most of the issues driving the story remain on the surface with little depth. While I have seen this style work, the delivery here wasn’t as successful for me.
The book is told from Andy’s point of view. When we meet him he has been with Quinn for two years and life is not quite what he wants. Their relationship is strained, Andy’s job is shaky, he has unresolved issues with his siblings, and he’s trying to sort through his feelings for his best friend. Andy doesn’t talk to anyone about anything and really doesn’t notice a whole lot of what’s going on around him. There are many signs from Quinn that all is not well and when he witnessed a scary incident between Dmitry and Alexei, Andy never asked about it and then just avoided Alexei.
Dmitry is a holistic therapist, but has a load of issues himself. His character, as well as his job, is made an important factor to the story, but all we are shown is him not treating people well and there is minimal character development for him either. Alexei is described by Dmitry as “… a lover of life. A lover of light. Of everything bright and loud and real.” For the most part, all we are shown of Alexei are his troubles, which are vast and destructive. We are told that he likes to sing and has a beautiful voice, but it wasn’t enough to support the statements that everyone made about Alexei as we didn’t get to see any of it.
Alexei and Andy do not spend much time together in the book, which could have been okay since there was a lot of story happening, but what we did see of them together again lacked depth to create the connection between them that the story was selling. Most of the characters were wrapped up in themselves and there were random metaphors sprinkled in amongst the drama. The premise of this story was initially intriguing but then never fully evolved to make for a satisfying read.