Matt Murphy comes home from a three-week working trip to find Brandon, his boyfriend of five years, has moved out and left him a Dear John letter. Matt is broken hearted, as he didn’t see it coming. Not knowing what else to do, he packs up the house and leaves his dog with his best friend, Luke Bishop. Matt’s plan is to spend a while with his brother in New Hampshire helping on his brother’s lobster boat. But just as Matt is ready to go, Luke kisses him.
Matt has been in love with Luke since they met 20 years before, but he never thought Luke could love him back. So he gave up on that dream and thought he found happiness with Brandon. And now is the worst possible time for Luke to act on feelings Matt didn’t know he had. He’s just had his heart broken and he’s heading out of town. Deciding it’s the best thing for both of them if Matt gets his head on straight first, Matt leaves. Along the way, he does some hard thinking, finds out a one-night stand doesn’t fulfill his wants, and finally puts Brandon behind him.
When Matt makes it back to shore after the first week on the boat, it’s to several messages from his mother. Luke has been seriously injured and Matt races back home. Luke pulls through, and the two men admit their feelings for each other. But when Luke tells his parents about Matt and their new relationship, they lose it. Recovering isn’t easy to begin with, and now Luke has to deal with his hurt on top of it. But Matt is right there with him, supporting him, and together, these two friends can finally live the life they should have been living all along.
I picked up this book because I’m a sucker for friends to lovers. It’s one of my very favorite tropes, and this one sounded like it had a lot of promise. While I did enjoy the story, it also had its problems and parts of it left me wanting. All in all, it was a nice story, even if I wanted a bit more from it.
The book is told solely through Matt’s third person POV. And this is really his story. He comes home to find the man he thought he loved, the one he thought he was going to grow old with, has moved out. And it’s the stark truth that Brandon left behind that has Matt reevaluating his relationship. Now Matt can see the holes and where it went wrong, and it hurts. He’s determined to heal himself and thinks the best way to do it is to get out of town for a while. Matt is a really introspective character and he spends a lot of time in his head. On the one hand, this worked really well and there was never any issue knowing exactly what he was thinking. I really liked seeing him work through things, have his doubts, second guess his decisions, and really move forward. On the other hand, though, there was also a bit of a disconnect from the character for me. I felt a bit removed, spending so much time in his head. Seeing as how he’s the narrator character, that worked against the story from time to time.
I had a bit of an issue with the romance side of things as well. While I liked following along with Matt throughout this story and watching him heal and realize what he wanted in life, it also meant that for more than half of the book we barely saw Luke at all. There was one scene in the beginning, and then a couple of phone calls, but that was it. That made the last third of the book feel rushed to me and it also lacked a bit of the emotional connection I was looking for. I wanted to care about both the MCs and want them to be together, and as it was, I hardly knew Luke at all. My head was rushing to catch up to Matt’s feelings when Luke is injured, and for me, it lost some of the urgency. They definitely had chemistry when they got together, and their love was easy to accept because of the easy way they interacted. It was clear these guys knew each other well and were comfortable with each other. So together they absolutely worked. I just wished I could have been shown much more of the lead up to it. It would have had a bigger impact and a more emotional connection had I had that. Ultimately the pacing is where I struggled with the story. Spending so much time with the guys apart left me waiting for them to get together, and because of that, I think some of the other emotional notes in the story didn’t have the power they should have.
But I did like this story. It’s written in a smooth easy style that’s easy to fall into. I liked the author’s voice, and she gave us a great character in Matt. He did a lot of growing and learning throughout the book and in the end, it was really nice to see him happy and settled. It lacked a bit in the pacing for me, but overall, it was a nice read. If friends to lovers is your crack, put this one on your list.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.