Calm is the direct sequel to Wake and picks up right after that book. It is not intended to be read as a stand alone and reading this review will open up key plot points to that first book in the series. If you wish to read the first book spoiler free, I would recommend not reading this review before that.
Riley and Carter felt a connection since they met their first year in college. They have been the best of friends for years and have stuck together. Except when Riley divorces his wife and comes out, Carter doesn’t react well to Riley’s confession and pulls back, causing their friendship to fracture. Riley tries to move on, but when he learns that Carter has separated from his wife, he offers Carter a nod of support and an attempt to repair their friendship.
Carter finally had to tell his wife the truth about everything. He didn’t expect depression to hit him so hard as he catalogs his failings to his family as well as Riley. But, Carter is trying to pull it together and repairing his friendship with Riley is at the top of his list. Yet when Carter confesses his feelings to Riley, it may be too late as Riley is involved with Will. Although Carter is telling him everything he wanted to hear, Riley is still hurt by Carter’s past rejection and offers him only friendship.
Carter steps out and tries his hand at dating other men, but the pull he feels for Riley will never go away. Riley feels it too and as his relationship with Will slowly unravels, Carter and Riley know finding their way back to each is truly where their hearts lie.
I am good at waiting. Seriously good at waiting. There is something to be said about the build up to the anticipation of a highly sought after sequel. Calm was that book. The first book in the series, Wake, captivated me on a number of levels and since the story was not complete, this was most certainly one of my most highly anticipated sequels of the year. I had this book for a few weeks before I was able to read it due to scheduling and I could not wait until it was next on my list.
Wake ended with Carter and Riley estranged, Carter needing to have a conversation with his wife, and Riley dating a new man. I like books that reach outside the lines and in the first book the authors added in threesomes, cheating, estrangement, and dating other people, and if it works for the story, bring it on. This book didn’t go quite the way I was expecting or wanting, but let’s talk about where it did go.
As the book opens, Riley is dating Will and Carter is separated from Kate. Riley barely has any connection to his parents after coming out and Carter’s parents are livid that Carter is separated and side against him even before knowing all of the facts, which then further escalates the collapse of their relationship. Riley was incredibly hurt at the way Carter responded to his coming out and while he feels he needs to continue to distance himself from Carter, there is a Carter shaped hole in his life that everyone can see.
The first half of the book has Riley and Carter trying to navigate being around each other again and repairing their friendship. During this time, Riley is in a committed relationship with Will and Carter is struggling with all the changes in his life and then tries his hand at dating men when Riley is unavailable. The issue I had here was that Riley’s relationship is gone into in detail and then Carter starts casually dating Jesse. Jesse was also one of those characters that steals each scene he is in. I felt like the authors were trying to get me to care about and become emotionally invested in Riley’s relationship with Will even though it was the wrong relationship for him (even Riley felt it), and then they introduce a dynamic character like Jesse, while simultaneously continuing the storyline that Riley and Carter were inevitable.
Carter was also dealing with family issues, both with his ex-wife and kids, and his parents. Since he worked with his father, it led into issues at work as well. The relationship between Riley and Carter was the constant hum in the background, but when they got together it was a quieter occurrence. Carter is working through being out and being in a public relationship with Riley and even when they were alone together there was a hesitancy. The men had known each other for half of their life and while I understood the need for their journey, their time together didn’t quite live up to what I was anticipating.
The ending also takes time to set up a possible future story for both Will and Jesse and while I would be interested in those stories, that further took time away from Carter and Riley and even though they are more solid at the end, there was still an unsettled hesitant feeling to them. The book is well written no doubt about that as there are two authors here and they blend their voices seamlessly. While this book didn’t quite captivate me as much as the first and I will admit to being disappointed, my rating stands for the book that I got and not the book that I wanted.