Cameron Buckley is a college senior and has his future all planned out. Soon after graduation he is moving to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of becoming a screenwriter. Cameron doesn’t have time for relationships as he is leaving for L.A. soon. And even if he did, he knows they never work out. Better to focus on the future and not get mired in the past or what could have been.
Walker Reed is a divorced father stuck in a job he hates. Walker put aside his own dreams after college to stay near his partner, who then ended up cheating on him and ending their marriage. Walker feels like his life has passed him by and that at this point he needs to just accept the choices he has made and make the best of it, even if it leaves him feeling miserable.
When Walker and Cameron meet, the two hit it off, but they also both aren’t looking for anything serious. Cameron doesn’t do relationships, plus he is moving soon. And Walker has a child to help raise, not to mention that he is about 15 years older than Cameron and a relationship between them is clearly out of the question. The two become friends, however, and soon begin to inspire one another to look at their lives in different ways. Walker begins to think about what would really make him happy and to push himself out of the rut he has fallen into. And Cameron begins to let in more emotion, more feeling, and stop focusing so much on the future to the exclusion of all else. But the guys always knew there was a clock ticking on their relationship and with Cameron’s dreams of a life in L.A., it is coming sooner than they hoped. Even as the guys are realizing there could be more between them than just friendship, they also know that their time together could be running out.
Out on a Limb is part of A.J. Truman’s Browerton University series, following the really enjoyable Out in the Open. The stories stand alone well, with Cameron a friend of the MCs from the previous book, but most of the story focusing on Cameron and Walker.
This story has very much a friends to lovers feel, even though the guys don’t meet until the start of the book. They are drawn together, but neither one is pursuing anything more than friendship for most of the story. They know Cameron is leaving and neither man is looking for a relationship. Instead, they build a friendship and a connection that helps inspire each man toward change and growth. Walker is just stuck, miserable with his job, not quite connecting with his young son, and feeling like the best of his life has passed him by. He regrets his choices from the past, but feels like it is too late to do anything about them. Cameron’s joy in life, his optimism, and his sense of moving forward help to push Walker to stop wasting time and focus on what he really wants. For Cameron’s part, he is so focused on the future, he is missing the life he is leading. Cameron’s motto is never look back, but it is keeping him from making the most of his college years, from enjoying his life as he lives it instead of always looking for what is next. I loved the way both of these guys grow and change over the course of the book and the way they each inspire the other towards a happier and more fulfilling life.
While the friendship and the connection between these guys is strong, I did have trouble with the romance end. These guys are friends for much of the book before the attraction starts growing stronger, but even once they act on their attraction, there is almost no development of the romantic end of things. They are friends for a long time, finally get together, and then are separated for a long time. Then suddenly they are in love and we are supposed to believe in this romantic connection that we don’t really ever see. So much of their journeys happen individually. They are inspired by one another, and even helped by one another. But they aren’t ever really with one another while on this path and they each spend most of the book doing their own things separately. This would have been fine if we didn’t get an ending seeing these guys in love and taking big steps to be together. I just had trouble feeling a romantic connection between them or believing fully in their love story.
I’ll also mention that there were times when I think the POV got a little muddy here, particularly as the pronouns made things somewhat confusing. I noticed it particularly in their sex scene where I had to read carefully to fully follow what was going on.
Overall I think what really worked for me here was how well Truman develops these characters. I was really drawn in right from the start by these two men and found them really engaging. I loved watching them change and grow and appreciated how they inspired one another to happiness and to reach for what they really wanted out of life. I wished we had more time where these guys are actually together, and I think the book needed more focus on the romantic end of things if we are going to have them in love with an HEA at the end. But I still found Out on a Limb really entertaining and I was drawn into both Cameron and Walker’s world.