Growing up in a Greek-Orthodox home, Peter Georgiou knows his duty is to his family…which means marrying a nice Greek girl and having lots of little ones. Peter lives at home, dates who his mother wants him to, and works at the family restaurant. Yet, he is miserable…except he doesn’t realize he’s miserable until his best friends ask him whether he’s happy. Later, as he sees his two best friends alone together, he realizes how desperately he wants what they have.
Louis Papadakis is back at home after breaking up with his boyfriend who refused to come out of the closet for him. Returning home, he finds out that his sister is dating the guy he had a crush on in high school. Louie notices the sadness in Peter’s eyes and, as the two begin to spend time together, he picks up on the mixed signals Peter is sending him. Yet, after barely surviving one relationship where he was forced into the closet, Louis isn’t ready to fall into another one where he has to hide who he is.
As the two spend more time together, Peter finds himself drawn to Louis…and his mother notices it too. When a family crisis arises, Peter is forced to choose between sacrificing his happiness by fulfilling the duty his parents expect of him, or choosing Louis and severing the ties.
I am going to start this review off by telling you all that I was a bit reluctant about this story when I realized that the main character was in his early thirties and still living at home. That continued when I started reading and realized that Peter doesn’t have a lot of money because he is working at the family diner and mom/dad hold those purse strings very tightly. And then when I realized that Peter used to be the star football player and guy every girl wanted back in high school and now he is losing his hair and has packed on a few pounds. Let’s be honest, this is not your typical “hero,” yet, surprisingly, I found myself thinking how refreshing this was!
Peter isn’t your ordinary hero. He is dating a woman, who happens to be Louis’ sister. He lives in a basement apartment in the family home because his parents don’t want him to move away, especially after his father had a heart attack a few years ago. He used to have a nice city job, but he had to quit it because of his father’s health problems, yet the business is stuck in the eighties and they are losing customers to newer, fancier Greek restaurants because he father won’t allow Peter to make some much needed changes. It’s no wonder Peter is miserable. Yet, I loved watching him come out of his shell when he was around Louis.
Louis, who also grew up in an Orthodox Greek home, left home shortly after coming out and has had a really tough relationship with his parents ever since. With his parents living in a Greek neighborhood of Toronto, just being back is enough to force his hand into finding an apartment as soon as possible just to salvage what he can of his relationship with his parents. When his sister sends him to pick up her boyfriend, Louis is shocked to see that the man who was his childhood crush has such sadness in his eyes.
When Peter starts calling Louis, he uses the excuse that he is doing it because he should befriend his girlfriend’s brother…except that Peter finds that he rather be spending time with Louis than with his girlfriend. The sexual chemistry between these two is off the charts! For me, though, the best part was that I actually could feel the difference between Peter when he was with Louis and when he wasn’t. It was as if someone turned a light bulb on and off.
The parents really bring this story to life. Despite my loathing of the parents for their mastery of guilt tripping, they brought a level of authenticity into the story about how immigrant families often struggle with wanting to maintain the old traditional values while the children want to move into the modern world and find their own happiness.
Overall, I have to admit, I really loved this story so much that I am actually ashamed of myself for putting off having read it because it wasn’t the typical romance hero. If you are looking for something different and a bit refreshing – you’ve got to check this book out. Highly recommend!
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.