Forge Reynolds is in the middle of a nasty divorce. Things between he and his husband, Granger, were tense for several months, but rather than try to work things out between them, Granger turned to someone else instead. Ever since then their home has become a war-zone. They both work late, eat solitary and silent dinners, and argue about everything. Granger, a lawyer, isn’t giving an inch in the divorce settlement and Forge… Forge just wants it over.
Coming home after working late, as he often does in an attempt to limit how much time he spends having to deal with his husband, Forge finds every light in the house on. It’s a clear sign Granger is home since the man never met a light he didn’t turn on and leave on. But even though Granger’s car is in the garage, Forge can’t find his husband anywhere. At least, not until he checks in the back yard.
There he finds Granger dead, shot multiple times and lying in a pool of blood. Granger’s home office has also been ransacked. After calling the police, Forge calls his lawyer who decides to hire security for Forge. Whatever the people who killed Granger were after, they didn’t find it, which means they may come back. Forge, shaken and devastated, agrees to let his lawyer make the decisions. The man who walks through the door takes Forge’s breath away for two reasons. The first, he’s drop-dead gorgeous; the second, it’s the man who, seventeen years ago, Forge fell in love with. A man who never returned his letters. A man Forge thought he was over.
Gage Livingston, retired Staff Sergeant and currently running his own security business, never thought he’d see Forge again. Forge was the medic who helped Gage through his painful recovery after an attack left him nearly paralized. Forge kept his spirits up, helped him write letters home, and promised to write to Gage even after he was sent home. But the letters never came and Gage eventually had to move on with his life. Now, though, Gage and Forge are face-to-face and alone in an empty house. Between keeping Forge safe and finding out what secrets Granger had hidden that were dangerous enough to cause his death, Gage and Forge have one more puzzle to solve. The feelings between them are still there, but is this more than nostalgia? Are either of them — or both of them — willing to take a second chance?
For months, for a year, Forge has been mourning his marriage, emotionally and physically abandoned by his husband, a man who made him doubt himself. He gave way in everything, sleeping on the right side of the bed because Granger liked the left, eating foods Granger approved of, doing things Granger accepts. He can’t even eat his favorite ice cream because Granger would make fun of him, but with Gage it’s different. For Forge, Gage represents the past — a past when he was more confident, more sure of himself, and able to make a decision without second guessing himself. He was also very much in love with Gage seventeen years ago, and a little surprised to find that those feelings haven’t faded.
Gage had used Forge as a mental and emotional goad to help him through his physical recovery. When the promised letters never came, he used the anger at the betrayal to help him keep going. Now, with Forge in front of him, those feelings come rushing back. The anger, the lust, the need to know why. Why Forge didn’t write to him, why Forge abandoned him.
Forge had, though, written the letters. A lot of letters. He’d poured his heart out, only to have it rejected. Not by Gage, but by Gage’s mother who intercepted the letters and returned them. When Forge shows Gage the letters (he’d kept them, though he hadn’t known why), it helps to calm Gage’s anger and allows both of them to pick up from where they left off.
Without being able to see the two men deal with the years that separate them, it makes the resulting rush into a relationship feel far too easy and far too shallow. It takes them only a day or two to profess their love for one another, a speed that is at odds with the rest of the book, which drags a bit in places. There wasn’t any buildup of suspense and — while I’m no expert where it concerns police procedure — there was a scene at the end that would have led to their man walking free. If the police truly had been after this individual for years, why were they so sloppy when it came to catching him?
More attention was given to the romance than to the plot which, given the genre is understandable, but it weakened the overall story. The television level police work didn’t work for me, but the relationship between Gage and Forge, however, did. They made a natural pairing with honest affection and support for one another. If you don’t pay too much attention to the details ,you’re left with a cute love story about second chances.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.