Jase Rafferty grew up hiding his sexual curiosities – until he met Bryan Keating when they were in the military together. Bryan’s sexuality is no secret, and when the two were deployed overseas together they formed a solid friendship that grew into a sexual relationship and then went their own ways. A year later, the two meet again and enjoy another weekend together before Bryan heads back to the military and Jase heads back home with his wife and son. Several years later, Jase realizes he needs Bryan in his life to complete his heart and soul, except fear and hatred threaten to tear them apart. The two must decide whether they can stand strong together or whether they will go their separate ways.
This book opens with the author inviting readers to read her free short story before reading this book. So I did. In it we meet Bryan and Jase before Jase heads back to civilian life leaving Bryan behind. I will admit, after reading the short story, I was eager to read the book. My personal opinion is that the short story should have been included (at least partially) in this book because without it, readers are going to be less sympathetic to the two main characters without knowing the backstory.
The story is told in both Jase’s and Bryan’s POV. The story covers an extended period of time and has several time changes, all of which are noted for readers at the start of the chapters.
Jase thinks of himself as straight, though he has attraction to men…ok, he’s bisexual, but he won’t admit it to himself. Growing up in a religious community/household, it was understandable why he tries hard to suppress these feelings. He joins the military, meets Bryan, and the two become best friends. Just before Jase is to head home to his cheating wife, Jase and Bryan spend a week together (which is the prequel book). Basically that is the plot of this book. Jase is struggling with his sexuality. He doesn’t want to admit he’s bisexual. He’s afraid he will lose his child. He’s afraid of how this will reflect on his child. He’s afraid to lose the love and support of his parents. He’s afraid that he will lose his best friend/lover unless he accepts his sexuality. So while the story is told in both POVs, it is really Jase’s story about coming out and coming to terms with who he is.
Bryan, on the other hand, doesn’t know what a closet is. Despite being in the military, he doesn’t really hide who he is other than DADT. Yet, he repeatedly lets Jase call the shots and is willing to stick around if there is the slightest chance that he will get Jase in the end.
For those of you who’ve read my reviews, you know that I am not a fan of children playing a prominent role in my stories. It’s sad when after reading a story I have to admit my favorite parts of the story revolved around the child character. When we first meet Gray, he is just an infant and the scenes where Jase is caring for him make you realize why he is still with his wife. Later, when Gray is six, it was heartwarming to see Bryan try to bond with Gray, just as it was heart wrenching to see how his grandparents’ homophobia reflected on him.
One of my complaints about this book is that I am not a fan of stories where the female characters are depicted as being evil witches. So right off the start, when the two meet again, Jase is still with his cheating wife and they have a baby (yep…aww watching Jase as a daddy melts your heart). Apparently Jase’s wife knows about the two of them and uses it as a means to keep Jase right where he is.
My second complaint is the whole cheating thing – both between the wife while he was deployed and his own cheating with Bryan. While later in the story some of this is explained away, I am just not a fan of cheating in my stories at all. Yet this is a prime example of why I love self-published books in the first place because they aren’t necessarily written following the typical cookie cutter format and are willing to push the envelope.
Another complaint is that most of the sex scenes are off the page. The ones that are on the page are very short and fade to black. I felt cheated.
Overall, this wasn’t a bad story and is well written and edited. If you are a fan of stories where one of the main characters is really struggling with his sexuality, you are going to love this book.