West Harris and Angel Daniels had a summer fling as teenagers. Things ended badly when Angel’s father dragged him out of town and West broke things off for good due to his own father’s meddling. Now Angel is back in Half Moon Bay, running a bakery and struggling to make ends meet while trying to raise his brother who was dropped on him by their deadbeat dad. And West’s company is looking to get Angel to sell so they can build condos in the bakery’s location. The men haven’t spoken to each other in years, but the wounds are still raw. Yet a chance meeting has the old feelings for one another coming back.
Seeing Angel again makes West realize how much he has been bottling up his feelings and how cold and distant he has become. He knows being with Angel makes him a better person and he wants to put the past behind them and try again. For his part, Angel returns West’s feelings, but he is wary. Angel is responsible for his younger brother Roman, as well as his bakery. He wants to trust in West and his feelings, but he can’t afford to get involved with a man who won’t stick around. Yet despite his fears, Angel can’t stop his feelings for West.
Even as the men are growing closer, life around them is falling into chaos. Accidents, fire, and violent attacks are occurring with no explanation. It is one thing after another and the men are barely recovering from one crisis before another hits. Even as the men are finally finding a way to move forward together, their very lives seem to be in danger.
Hanging the Stars is a follow up to the excellent Fish Stick Fridays, a book I totally adored in both ebook and audio form. We first meet West in that story as Lang’s identical twin. There is a grudging affection between the brothers, but West is definitely somewhat dislikable there, so I was excited to see his redemption story here. For fans of the first book, we see Zig and Lang quite a bit as side characters here, and Deacon makes an appearance or two. However if you haven’t read that first book, I still think this works as a standalone.
The story has two main focuses — West and Angel reuniting and working out how to be together as adults after their young romance, and the mystery/suspense end as someone is clearly out to harm them. For me, the romance end really worked well. I loved seeing these guys navigate moving forward with a relationship after the problems of the past. I kind of expected they would be dancing around each other for a while, so I was really happy to see that these guys are pretty much upfront from the start with their feelings. West is honest about his regret over what happened and very clear he wants to pick up their relationship. And Angel has shares both his feelings for West and his fears about the impact on his brother, his business, and his life. So it is not always smooth, but the guys are moving forward together and figuring out how to make things work.
The mystery end falls a little flatter to me, mostly because it reads more like a string of incidents than an actual suspense plot. All these things keep happening and no one ever seems to connect any of it, so while they are overwhelmed and digging themselves out of constant crisis, no one seems to be worried about what is going on or trying to tie things together (except maybe one of the cops) until the very end. It seemed kind of baffling to me honestly, that one thing after another happens and no one ever questions that their lives seems to be in constant danger — fire, car accidents, attempted kidnapping, shootings… I think if there had been more of an awareness of danger from the characters, or more of an investigation, the suspense plot would have held together more for me. As it was, it felt kind of added on.
Despite this, I really loved the story and think the romance more than carried the book. I really liked these guys together and enjoyed exploring their rekindled relationship. I continue to like the side characters in this series, both old and new. And I enjoyed seeing some redemption for West. I am not sure if there is more to come for this series (though there is definitely at least one character who could warrant his own story), but I hope we get more chances to visit Half Moon Bay. I liked this one a lot and can certainly recommend it.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.