Rating: 4.5 stars
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When Jake Kendricks sees the lump on his doorstep, he thinks it’s a homeless person. But when he realizes the heap of crumpled man is actually seriously injured, he gets him the medical help he needs. Only then does Jake find out it’s his downstairs neighbor, Max Wilson. As Max begins to recover, Jake and Max start a tentative friendship. Max is skittish, and from some of the things Max has let slip, he has good reason to be. Jake is hiding his own secrets, avoiding telling his new friend about the year he spent in prison.
But as the weeks stretch on, their friendship grows. Jake takes Max to the dojo where he practices and Max begins to learn the art of self-defense. In the process, he gains some self-confidence. But when Jake’s attempt to explain that he’s bisexual goes awry, Max runs, thinking he’s the odd man out. But when they finally have a conversation, they both are quick to take their attraction and friendship to the next level.
Though things are progressing well, everything isn’t perfect. When Jake admits the truth about himself, the men find themselves on shaky ground. And when Max faces a complication from his attack, everything goes sideways. But what Jake and Max have been building has the potential to be solid. If both men can trust what is between them.
I was eager to pick up this author’s work, but hadn’t yet had the opportunity. When this book showed up, I knew it was the right time to take the chance. And I wasn’t disappointed. Jensen has a real talent and ability, painting clear pictures with her words that allowed me to fall into and get absorbed by the story. The characters were so well defined, flawed and imperfect, but oh so real. All in all, I found this book to be a really enjoyable read.
What I loved here the most were the characters. Jake has made mistakes, he knows it, and though he may have had a good reason behind some of his choices, his actions deserved consequences. I liked that he knew it, that he accepted it, and that he worked really hard to be a better person. At his core, he already was, and I liked that he acknowledged his flaws while also understanding his positives. Jensen really managed to create a character who felt real and believable, without being too over the top in any direction.
Max, too, was incredibly well done. My heart broke for this guy, and the things he’s had to endure throughout most of his life. Again, some aspects of his life and personality could have gone too over the top, but that was not the case here. He was shy, scared, and beaten down. But he was not beaten, and I loved seeing his steel backbone underneath it all. He may have forgotten that he had one, but he does remember, and I loved the growth he showed throughout this book. Together these guys had chemistry galore, and from the moment they began their tentative friendship, the sparks flew. There’s not a lot of heat in this book, but there doesn’t need to be, as the connection between the characters is so palpable it leaps off the page.
I really enjoyed watching the plot unfold, but I have to admit to a few small, tiny issues with some of the plot points. I would have liked to see a bit more of their friendship as it was unfolding, though what was there was absolute gold. I also felt like it took a little too long for these guys to be honest about their pasts with each other. I will say that the way it was handled was absolutely perfect, but I wanted to get there sooner than it did, and it was a tad frustrating for me. Not only because the guys were dancing around the issues with each other, but because I didn’t get the whole story as a reader either. The end may have been just a bit too neat of a bow, and while part of me thought it was just a bit unrealistic, the other part really loved that everything worked out so well.
But overall, I really enjoyed this story and have no qualms about recommending it to you. Especially if you’re looking for a story with two unforgettable characters who were absolutely made for each other, and met each other at the right time.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.