When Leo Ware met Will Highland in his small town of Holiday, Michigan, he was immediately captivated by Will. And when Will kissed Leo on the way out of town, it just reaffirmed his infatuation. Now that Leo has come to New York City for college at NYU, he hopes that his life will change. Now is the chance for things to finally start for Leo, to make friends and meet new people and get out of his tiny town where he doesn’t fit in. And most of all, a chance to pick up where things left off with Will.
The two men pick back up on their friendship, but Leo wants so much more. Will makes it clear that he doesn’t do relationships and he doesn’t do monogamy. He feels the same attraction that Leo does, but Will wants Leo to understand exactly what to expect if they move into a sexual relationship. Leo hears what Will is saying, but even though he agrees to the conditions, Leo is pretty sure that once they are together, Will will change his mind.
Soon it becomes clear, however, that although the men have become best friends and the sex is great, that they are not at all in the same place with regards to what they want. Will needs to keep things casual and doesn’t want a commitment, while Leo wants nothing more than for Will to be his boyfriend and for them to be in a serious relationship. The two men care about each other deeply, but now they must figure out if what they want from each other is too incomptible, or if there is a chance they can find a way to be together that makes them both happy.
I have been waiting eagerly (and not very patiently) for Will and Leo’s story ever since reading the first book in this series, In the Middle of Somewhere. I absolutely adored that story and loved Will and Leo as side characters. In that book we see the chemistry between them, and we learn about the kiss, but it is just a taste of what is to come for them, and I absolutely adored getting to reconnect with them again here.
First off, Roan Parrish is an amazing writer and her characters are so fascinating and well developed. Will and Leo are both so well explored, such interesting and complex characters, that I just loved digging into this story and learning all about them, and seeing them grow and change. We are in Leo’s POV, and Parrish does a great job getting us into the head of this young man who is finally breaking free of his small town and learning to be out in the world. Leo is fresh and young and full of fantasies, whereas Will (despite not being that much older) has a much more jaded side. Somehow when they come together, they fit so well and I liked seeing how the two influence one another as their relationship develops.
What I particularly enjoyed here is that this isn’t a typical romance story. These guys are fundamentally at odds about what they want from a relationship, and things are hard. Leo is caught up in the romance, his Felicity moment, coming to New York for school in hopes of reconnecting with the object of his desire (and obsession). On one hand, it is clear that he truly likes and cares about Will, but there is also an element of idealizing everything they have and what it could be. It so fits his personality, and learning that everything doesn’t follow a perfect fantasy plan that he has developed in his head is something that Leo has to come to accept over the course of the book. And even more, he has to learn to not be so focused on the ideal he wants that he ends up missing all the really wonderful things along the way. But that takes time, and for most of the book we have Leo who is just hoping that if persists enough, Will will want exactly what Leo wants. But Will is clear: he doesn’t do relationships, he doesn’t want commitment, and he wants to sleep with other people. We can see how worried Will is about losing Leo, so much that he tries to hold off the sexual side of things because he doesn’t want to hurt him. But Leo persists and the connection is so strong that the two are just drawn to one another.
So what we have is two men who truly care about one another, but have fundamentally different ideas about what they want. Over the course of the book this really gets explored so well and I loved how Parrish gives each of these guys points of growth and new understanding. I really loved that we don’t get a trite, magical solution where Will suddenly changes completely and gives in to everything Leo wants because “love.” It is harder and more real than that, and even though things end in an incredibly mushy and unWill-like way, it also feels real and right for the two of them.
I also really found Will an interesting character, one who in many ways could be unsympathetic, but Parrish does such a nice job developing him that I couldn’t help but love him. He doesn’t want a relationship or commitment, something that kind of goes against most of romance novel ideals. But he is also so concerned about Leo, he puts aside his own desires for them to get together for fear of hurting him. Will is honest about what he wants and makes an effort to protect Leo’s feelings, which I really appreciated. Will is also shockingly gorgeous, so much so that people stare at him in the street. And it makes him nuts. He hates that people want him and like him for his looks, hates that he never knows who is sincere and who is just falling under the spell of attraction. It is like being wealthy and never knowing who just likes you for your money. Again, Parrish explores this so well, and we see how Will puts up walls and retreats into himself, trying to defend against people’s reaction to his looks. It makes him such a fascinating character and really gives us insight into his personality.
So I just really adored this story. It is such a fascinating and well developed look at these two men, both as a couple but also individually. There are some lovely moments together with these guys and I finished the story so happy with the way they managed to make things work and really find their way to one another. And for fans of In the Middle of Somewhere, we get some nice cameos with Rex and Daniel (swoons). This story was so engaging and such a perfect way to bring us back to Will and Leo’s story. I loved it and would highly recommend it.