Ben Behr is a contractor with a company he and his brothers own. He enjoys truck rallies, beer, bar food, and…women. One day, Ben heads out to a restaurant with a new owner. He’s supposed to do a walkthrough to estimate the cost of fixing it up to fit that new owner’s vision. When he walks in, he encounters a gorgeous man with his arms spread wide open, smiling widely, and twirling in circles, and Ben’s damn near enchanted.
Mitch O’Shea is thrilled with his new purchase. He’s got an idea for a new family friendly restaurant and he can’t wait to get to work. He instantly begins flirting with Ben, and if Ben were to be honest with himself, he likes it…at least his body does. He has a visceral reaction to Mitch he doesn’t understand, but even though he’s confused by his conflicted feelings, there isn’t much of a fight in him.
Waking the Behr appealed to me because I am crazy for the gay for you/out for you trope, and when the main characters are from opposite ends of the spectrum, I’m so there. While I wasn’t disappointed with the book, I did find it a bit difficult to feel connected to it.
The story starts out right away with Ben walking into the restaurant. He is captivated by Mitch from the very beginning:
My brothers, Abe and Connor, had come out a while back, but everybody know I was the straight Behr. I’d been dating girls since I was twelve (but looked sixteen). I wasn’t attracted to guys. Ever. I didn’t go for tall girls, especially ones as huge as me, so why was I attracted to a big man?
I stepped back and gave him the once-over. My body sure as shit was a little interested. Okay, maybe more than a little.
That’s on page four. So, you can see, there’s no wasting time. That’s not a bad thing. Waking the Behr is a short novel, so there really isn’t a lot of time for a slow burn, but I wish I’d had more time to get to know Ben and Mitch a little more. There were only cursory bits of backstory about them, and I yearned to know them better.
As characters, I liked both men, especially Mitch. He’s extremely wealthy, but he’s in no way pretentious. He fits right into his surroundings and is relaxed around everyone. Mitch is also excited to participate in the local small town events like the truck rallies. He goes into everything with unmitigated glee. I wish I could get excited about things like Mitch. Ben seemed a little…curmudgeonly. Sometimes, I swore I could hear my Dad’s voice coming from him. He spent a lot of time thinking he wasn’t good enough for Mitch because he was a country boy, and Mitch is from bustling San Francisco. It started feeling like a broken record relatively quickly. I wanted to reach through the Kindle, shake him and say, “You’ve got a good thing here. Don’t screw it up!” Don’t worry, though. He got with the program 🙂 Here’s my favorite part of the whole book. The boys are on a camping trip.
I got up, pulled him off his chair, and repositioned mine to make the two into a large camp lounger. Then, I sat us down on it, him between my legs, and me with one arm around his waist. We stared up at the stars shining over us.
“When the moon’s out, everything is brighter and more in your face. And it’s all real. no CGI for this, Mitch.” I was making my move, country style. I pointed at the stars, guiding him through the Big and Little Dippers, finding the North Star and Orion’s Belt. I walked him through the night sounds, the splash of the fish, and the chirps of the crickets. I told him about all the night creatures making love and how this season fit in to the cycle of the year. “Tomorrow night, we’ll take out my telescope and get a little more detailed, but tonight-tonight-I want you to feel your place in the universe. I want you to get your footing in my world.”
He turned to me and we kissed.
Here is where I mention Ben losing his virginity (with another man) and the sex takes place “off camera.” When I first read the story, I was incredibly disappointed, but I read it again as I prepared to write this review, and I realized it didn’t need to be graphic. That snippet I just wrote? That was so sexy the way it was written. It was just enough, and I am happy with that.
There are a few background characters, and they play small parts within the book. Ben’s brothers, Connor and Abe, are there for him when he’s trying to come to terms with his attraction to Mitch. Raven, a singer at one of Mitch’s clubs who Ben connects with and helps him realize Mitch is someone he could really fall for, and Joey, a homeless young man in San Francisco who Ben and Mitch help. In fact, Joey is important since Mitch tells Ben how he really realized he was in love with him because Ben was kind to the boy.
The ending came together neatly. All loose ends were properly tied up, and while there were no surprises, it was satisfying in the way all feel good stories are. I can’t say I loved Waking the Behr, but I really liked it. This is book seven of the Foothills Pride series, but I wasn’t confused about anything, so I assume all the books are standalones, and I’m willing to go back and check out books 1-6. I am going to recommend this one, especially to fans of OFY and opposites finding each other.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.