Raven was a very successful porn star until an accident cut his career short. Now he’s trying to figure out what he wants to do with the rest of his life. What Raven knows for a fact is that he’s never having sex with anyone again. Which is why when he takes a job as a companion for a high school reunion, he makes it clear that there is going to be no sex involved. The guy doesn’t exactly take no for an answer, but Raven knows how to handle himself. And the weekend would have been a complete wash and disappointment if Raven hadn’t met Caleb Sanderson.
Caleb owns his own company and fixes A/C units. He has contracts with several local resorts and hotels as their resident A/C repairman. When he’s called to a job, he meets a man in a kilt, and he can’t get the sexy man out of his mind. When Raven sabotages his A/C unit at the end of the weekend, they meet again. And even though the two men almost fall into bed together, Raven panics and Caleb immediately backs off. But Raven slips Caleb his phone number. Both men continue to obsess about each other until Caleb finally calls and they set up a date.
When Raven slips and falls, his old injury flares to life. And when Caleb shows his patient and caring nature, Raven admits the truth. The two begin dating, declaring exclusivity, and agree to give their relationship everything they have. Caleb knows Raven isn’t ready for sex, and he’s content to take things slow. And as the relationship progresses, they learn more about each other. But Caleb is in the closet with his family, and Raven hasn’t told Caleb about his past as a porn star. Both secrets explode in the worst of ways, and Caleb in particular handles things badly. It doesn’t matter that he almost immediately sees the error of his ways; if Caleb can’t convince Raven he’s sorry, then their relationship is doomed.
Truth is, I walked away from this book with decidedly mixed feelings. Burn does a really nice job with the characters, but the plot left something to be desired. As much as I liked both Raven and Caleb, I definitely had some issues with some of the plot points.
I liked Raven from the very start. He’s not ashamed of his past, and though he hates the scars that have marred him, he’s not exactly wallowing. Except when it comes to his sex life. For me, the attention Raven paid to his looks was incongruous with his character. Sounds weird for an ex-porn star who made his living on his looks right? But it was. Raven is a guy who is very self-aware, and comes off as very intelligent. So, for me, it just didn’t fit that he had sworn off all sex forever and ever. If it had solely been him reluctant to show that part of himself until he truly trusted his partner, I could understand a bit better. And that is ultimately what happened. But I had trouble with his near constant reference to the scars and how ugly he found them. It didn’t quite fit with the guy on the page. But still, I really liked him, and his determination to make something of himself. His business venture was smart and very fitting, and he really made parts of this book enjoyable.
Caleb is a total sweetheart from almost the beginning, and I found myself adoring him. He has such a big heart, and I totally understood his motivations and thought processes. From the reason he was hiding his sexuality from his family, to every little thing he did to care for Raven, I was on board with him. Until the very end. I have to say, I was disappointed in the choice the author made at the end. Caleb’s over the top reaction at finding out about Raven’s past was just way too much and totally against the sweet man I’d come to know. If it had been played a little differently, if Caleb had just been hurt and confused, I would have understood. I don’t want to give anything away, but his reaction was just way too much.
The romance between the guys was a little lacking as well. And here’s the part where I was truly on the fence. There were moments of connection so strong between these guys that I felt their attraction, their chemistry, just leap off the page. But there were other scenes that were just glossed over that kept their burgeoning relationship at a bit of a distance and made it hard for me to fully invest in it. Add to that the fact that the MCs spend half the book barely interacting, and then the ending feeling rushed, and I can say that the pacing and the plot felt inconsistent.
There were things about this story that I really enjoyed. But on the other hand, there were scenes and plot points that left much to be desired. What was good was really good, but it was tempered with lack-luster moments that left me wanting. I can still recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an easy read, an unashamed ex-porn star, or those heavy into kilt appreciation.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.