Marc and Tomas were the best of friends and while their friendship still remains, their relationship is strained. Marc grew up with an abusive, alcoholic father, had a rough time in school, and kept to himself. When the other kids tormented Marc, Tomas stood up for him and in the process they fell for each other hard and fast while initially keeping their feelings secret from each other. When a betrayal happened, their friendship was torn in half and while some parts have been fixed, other parts remain shattered.
Tomas always knew he loved Marc, but growing up he was told that it was wrong. Tomas knows he wants a relationship with a man, but not just any man. He still waits for Marc. Marc is finally trying to move on from his fears and seeks therapy to chase down his abusive past, but Marc doesn’t know how to bridge the divide between them. When a hurricane has them trapped together with no one else around, they must find the courage to finally take that first step back towards each other.
Close to You is the third book in the Sunshine and Happiness series. I would not suggest reading this book as a stand alone. Marc and Tomas have been fixtures in the first two books and all of the stories and characters overlap and intertwine as the guys all consider themselves a family. There has been a lot of mystery surrounding their story and this was the book I had been waiting for.
The book alternated between present day and the past. The flashbacks were absolutely necessary to lay the foundation of their relationship and subsequently their breaking apart. Marc was raised in an abusive home and since his father was a cop, no one paid any attention. His childhood years were unbearable as he was hurt and hungry most of the time, but his father, and then subsequently his teacher, read as more stereotypical caricatures to me. The one bright spot in Marc’s life was Tomas and the two became the best of friends.
Tomas had a better life at home comparatively. Tomas’ father died when Tomas was young and he and his mother moved in with his grandparents. While he was loved and sheltered and fed, his mother suffered from depression and his grandparents had their own ideas of how things should be done. Tomas’ family didn’t really care for Marc as they thought he was a bad influence on Tomas, but tolerated their friendship to a certain extent. When things at home continue to escalate for Marc, Tomas becomes scared and in the fallout loses the only person that mattered to him.
The guys don’t reconnect until years later and Marc is completely closed off. They are both so completely and forever in love with each other, but neither knows how to make the first move and they then find themselves at a loss as to what would happen if that move was made.
This story didn’t exactly play out quite as I had expected and much of that is personal preference. To start, both Marc and Tomas were much more tender than the earlier stories led me to believe. Their story, especially Marc’s specific background, was also not as unique as I was expecting. It’s a story line that has been seen many times and I suppose I was led to believe that it was something new or different. What was most difficult for me here was the style in which the story itself was told. The current day is told in third person present, which is not my preferred narrative, and the past is told in third person past. There was no indication when the time frame was changing other than the tense and then simply reading to see where the story line was. The shift was frequent, sometimes every chapter, which then lost momentum for both the past and present story lines.
It wasn’t easy at all to get these guys together and ultimately finding out their story made for a good read. The characters from the earlier books appear, it was great catching up with them, and then the scene is set for the next book. If you have been following this group of friends, it would be hard to resist finally finding out what is behind the story of Marc and Tomas.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.