Tyler Samuels moves back to his hometown of Armidale and buys the Central Hotel, a pub and bistro with guest lodging on the second floor. After what happened to his partner, he’s looking for a change of pace and his new venture seems just the thing. Tyler has just started to settle in when he meets Mac. Robert McGrath was once a friend, and he’s grown into a beautiful man. But Ty doesn’t want to get involved with anyone ever again.
Mac used to have a crush on Ty when they were teenagers, and those feeling come rushing back when he hears Ty’s moved back to town. Catching up with Ty seems like a good idea, and both men find a connection. They act on their mutual attraction, but Ty pulls away. Mac knows Ty needs friends more than anything else, and the two men start hanging out with Mac’s other friends. But their attraction is strong and they keep finding ways to act on it, despite Ty’s insistence that they are just friends.
It doesn’t take long for Mac’s heart to be involved, and he gets tired of Ty’s push and pull. When he confronts Tyler, he hears what the man is saying, that he doesn’t want anything more than friends. But Mac sees the way Ty looks at him, and he knows that Ty wants more. But Ty’s suffered some terrible losses, and Ty just isn’t willing to put his heart on the line again, until the moment Ty realizes that his heart is already involved, no matter what he wants. Now he just has to decide if he’s going to take that leap with Mac, or let the memories of the past keep him from finding happiness.
Rustic Memory begins immediately after the end of Rustic Melody, but it absolutely works as a standalone. Yes, there’s just a little bit more if you’ve read the first book, but it’s just in reference to characters. This book truly works on its own, so feel free to start here if you wish.
What Starr does so well is create characters that worm their way into your heart and just stay there. My heart hurt for Ty from the very beginning, and watching him struggle with his feelings and emotions and to persevere was rewarding. There were times when I wanted to kick him, where I wanted to shake him and make him see what was right in front of him. But what I really enjoyed about him was that he wasn’t perfect. He had flaws, and he made some choices I didn’t agree with. But he was real and relatable, and his character was wonderfully consistent throughout the book. I liked watching Ty grow and heal as the story progressed, and I loved watching him with Mac.
Oh Mac. Yeah. This is a guy I really liked. He’s so honest and sincere. So big hearted and just genuinely good. Mac was especially well done, in my opinion, as I truly believed everything about him. And I liked that despite being kind and patient, he wasn’t a complete pushover. It took a bit for him to get angry, but when he got there, he faced it head on. I really adored him, from start to finish, and I thought he was the perfect match for Ty. These two had great chemistry. They sparked from the first moment, they were hot together, but even more than that, they fit. These are two guys I wanted very much to work out.
I thought the pacing of the plot was really good, and that the story moved along at just the right speed. The plot wasn’t anything overly surprising, but for the most part it was handled well. I did think that the losses Ty had in his life should have been a little bit bigger than it were. To me, it felt like it had more weight than the story gave it. Especially when Tyler’s conclusions and resolutions at the end felt a little too quick and pat. But for the length of the book, I think it worked for the most part.
So I really liked this book. It was a solid read, without too much angst. There were definitely some feels brought up while reading, but it didn’t get too heavy. Ultimately, it was an enjoyable read with two great MCs, with an added bonus of likeable secondary characters, two of which are slated for the next book, and I can’t wait to see where Starr takes the series next.