Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 3.5 stars
Narrator: Tristan Wright
Length: 2 hours, 57 minutes
Audiobook Buy Links: Audible
Book Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Jordan has known for some time that he’s gay and he’s also known that he’s in love with his best friend. His best friend, Owen, who is the star high school wrestler and gorgeous and straight. They do everything together and their relationship is so solid it even survived a kiss in the seventh grade when Jordan’s hormones got the best of him.
But living in Wisconsin is hard for a kid like Jordan and he knows life would be a whole lot worse if Owen wasn’t firmly in his corner. Owen won’t let anyone mess with Jordan and even after Jordan comes out at school, Owen stands up to the biggest of the bullies. Even with Owen having a girlfriend their friendship remains special. As college looms on the horizon, they plan to room together, but Jordan has to separate himself from Owen, the one boy he wants but thinks he can never have. Owen can’t imagine a life without Jordan and may just have to come to terms with what his feelings for Jordan truly are.
This is a perfectly executed novella. Seriously, this is how it’s done for a well paced and complete story. Take two best friends, one a comic book artist with a crazy themed underwear collection and one a star athlete, who always have each other’s backs and it’s the makings of some confusing and turbulent teen years.
The guys meet in second grade and we quickly get taken through some highlights of their friendship and then the majority of the story takes place during high school. We get POV from both guys and it’s clear that Jordan fell for Owen hard and fast almost upon their first meeting. They have some common interests as they write a comic together, but they are also vastly different.
What these guys do have is that they are both good guys. Jordan graciously accepts for most of their teen years that Owen will never truly be his and Owen accepts Jordan exactly as he is and pushing back against the opinion of teammates.They are two well developed characters, with entertaining dialogue and endearing moments, as well as some teen angst.
If young adult isn’t what you gravitate toward, don’t then let the YA tag color your thinking. The guys are both well adjusted, mature kids and both did seem to have some insight that was older than their years. There are some more adult themes and the guys do give into temptation. But on the other side, if you are looking for a true YA book, while the guys are teenagers, it definitely has more of a NA feel.
Tristan Wright narrated this one and he didn’t quite hit the mark on an audio performance for me. While he had an overall pleasant tone to his voice, he spoke incredibly fast almost to a manic point at times, even while at the regular speed. The guys wrote a comic book scene that was difficult to follow and, although I don’t think that detracted much from the overall story, it was still part of the book. The characters all sounded exactly the same and there was no difference in voice to any of them. The scenes were labeled by which character’s POV it was, but in a back and forth conversation it was difficult many times to determine which character was speaking at first listen. The speed of Wright’s delivery then offered no timing and completely missed the emotion of the many firsts the guys were experiencing. For the overall quality, there also were a few places where the narrator would deliver a line only to have that same line repeated over again. The audio enabled me to fit this book into my schedule and that was a plus overall, but on its own merits this narrator would have me hesitate for a true recommendation.
The story though, childhood friends-to-lovers with perfect pacing and a well planned story arc, this one hits all the marks.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.