Scott Ashworth is gorgeous. Everyone thinks so and, when he turns on the charm, no one can resist him. It’s the only thing that has gotten him through life at this point. Living in a trailer with his alcoholic and abusive mother, along with four younger siblings, has left a permanent mark on Scott. His mother, Heather, is known as the town tramp and for the most part people think he’s trash as well. But Scott’s looks get him dates with popular girls, rides to school in a convertible, and free passes to the local gym. He has tamped down his attraction to other guys until Rylan becomes his stepbrother.
Rylan’s father, Bob, has suddenly married Heather, which means that Scott and Rylan are now sharing a room. Rylan has just come out to his father and while Bob is not pleased, he’s dealing with it. Rylan also wants to be out at his new school and comes out to Scott as well. It’s not long before Scott is the one initiating their first kiss and all Rylan can do is hang on. The guys soon become close and Scott is so starved for real attention as Rylan is the first person to ever truly be on his side. But when long hidden truths are revealed, Scott’s world explodes and he impulsively takes off and leaves everyone, including Rylan, far behind.
Six years later and Rylan still has dreams of being a photographer. Trying to make rent, he accepts a job at a Pride parade where a series of events has him reconnecting with Scott. Scott is more gorgeous than ever and has made a name for himself as a host on the gay club circuit. The men share a history and a true bond and while the attraction is still there, Scott has made himself a number of enemies and there could be trouble before the men ever truly get started.
When I finished this book, I could solidly say that I liked the story it was telling and I am ready to know what happens in the next book. But, it’s always difficult when the premise of a book is difficult to get with and the beginning of this book wasn’t quite working for me. It wasn’t Scott or Rylan, as they were both interesting characters, but it was the larger story of how they wound up under the same roof. You see, Scott’s mother, Heather, suddenly marries Bob, Rylan’s father. Bob had never met any of the five children, he works as trucker and is gone for long stretches of time, and he moves his teen son into a home with a completely unstable woman. Bob was portrayed as a reasonable guy otherwise and it was all fairly baffling for me that he did this.
Scott’s mother is a true piece of work. The five children are presumably from five different men and none of these men are in the picture. Scott has been known to go into dumpsters to look for food for his siblings when Heather has been on a bender and he’s made fun of for his stained, hand-me down clothing. Heather particularly hates Scott. I mean she loathes him with a vengeance, which comes back to the fact that Scott’s father left her. This is just one example of her talking to Bob and the entire family about Scott when Bob suggests giving Scott an allowance, “And you can do whatever you want with your son, baby, but my son ain’t nothin’ but a stupid, lazy ass who ain’t gonna get paid just for existin’.” This was followed by physical abuse and Bob just thinks every one should calm down. This was just a taste of how Scott lived his entire life.
Rylan becomes a life line for him. Someone to share the drama at home and also someone to share his bed. But then Scott’s world is turned upside down he kinda loses his mind and impulsively takes off, taking Rylan’s heart with him in the process.
Now this is where the book started to pick up for me, but it takes halfway to get there and we move ahead six years. The first half was a bit slow for me until more things came into focus and I will give Hansen points for ramping up the tension. But the writing in the first half came across as stiff and awkward and at times the guys sounded older than their years, alternating with Scott sometimes sounding grammatically uneducated, but it wasn’t consistent.
The second half is where the guys reconnect. Scott is still gorgeous as ever and all it takes is a smile from him and anyone will do whatever he wants. While it made its point, it did become a little much for each and every instance. Scott still carries the shame of his upbringing and still feels like he’s unworthy of love and will never truly amount to anything and this translates to the many bed partners he has had over the years. The bond and the attraction between Scott and Rylan is the real deal, but Rylan is hesitant of getting hurt again and thinks friendship is the best thing for the time being, although just being around Scott can threaten to burn him to the ground.
So this book is the just the beginning. I’m not going to specifically classify this first book as a romance as Scott and Rylan are nowhere near to being a couple even by the end of the book. This book also ends with a hard-hitting cliffhanger and the next book will be released soon. While I did find areas of the plot harder to accept and while some of the storyline was choppy as it was pieced together, as a whole, I am completely invested in their story and certainly have to know what comes next.