Being a financial advisor on Wall Street leaves Zeke on a different path than his family. His father, George, owns a successful chain of bagel stores, and his brothers all get along better with their father. Zeke cannot forget how George reacted to learning that Zeke was gay and, while George has done everything he can think of to make amends, Zeke’s wounds run deep and he doesn’t forgive easily. When Zeke finds out his boyfriend had been cheating on him for months with a co-worker, he also cannot let that go simply due to the fact that he likes to be in control and doesn’t like losing.
Benny has just started working at George’s bagel shop and an emergency has him meeting Zeke. Benny is everything Zeke isn’t. He’s colorful and proud and wants to be a theater costume designer. He’s exactly the type of man that Zeke doesn’t go for. But George is convinced that Benny is the man for Zeke. To appease George, the men agree to meet for a drink and both have a better time than they ever expected. The attraction is real and soon Zeke finds himself unable to think of anything besides Benny. But Zeke can’t let go of his anger towards his father and his need for revenge against his ex and when he’s not looking, Benny might be walking away.
I always find it interesting when a secondary character in a book makes hardly any impression and then gets his own book and makes all the impressions. Benny was introduced in the first book in this series, A Kind of Truth, and was solidly in the background for me and here he explodes in all of his color.
While this is the story of Benny and Zeke, since it is told solely from Zeke’s first person POV, it reads a little bit as more of his story. Zeke is successful, no doubt, and has a clear vision of what his life is and the type of person he should spend it with. Although, that hasn’t quite been working for him. No one liked his ex and Zeke knew he wasn’t in love with him, but Zeke doesn’t like to lose and always wants the upper hand. Zeke’s mother was his biggest supporter and now that she is sick and her memory is gone, there is no buffer between Zeke and his father any longer. Zeke mourns for the relationship he never had with his father and he can’t get past the hurt he feels when he sees his father embrace the gay men he used to shun.
Benny comes into Zeke’s life in a whirl of colored hair and pink shirts. Sure Zeke thinks he’s cute, but he also sees Benny as that kind of gay, the kind that’s “too gay.” But Benny surprises Zeke at every turn. He holds his own against his large Italian family even when he knows they talk about him behind his back. The more Zeke gets to know Benny, the more he sees how fierce and brave he truly is.
Zeke is Jewish compared to Benny’s Catholic upbringing, but the book doesn’t go in the religious direction. The more time the guys spend together the more they want to spend together, yet neither of them is ready for labels and while they decide to be monogamous, they also have a fake boyfriend thing going on for a while as well. That part went on a little too long for me as it took Zeke a long time to see what was right in front of him. The storyline with Zeke’s ex and his need for revenge was also threaded throughout the book, but then didn’t have quite the same impact on resolution as the buildup. I also really could have used something from Benny’s perspective, but Hayes generally writes solidly from one point of view.
Hayes writes contemporary books that have well written characters, heat, and romantic endings. This book works as a standalone, but there are also a few scenes to visit with Rand and Will from the first book. Hayes also has a three-part short story posted on her website that successfully ties the first book to the second book and is definitely worth a read. I’ve done the work for you on this one and if want a romance about two guys who don’t think they have anything in common yet fall in love, check out A Kind of Romance.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.