Although Bennett and Mac were the same age and grew up neighbors, they weren’t friends. Mac would antagonize Bennet, while simultaneously dreaming about running his fingers through Bennett’s hair, any chance he got. It didn’t help that Mac’s parents always compared Mac to Bennett. Bennett was the perfect student, but never tried to understand where Mac was coming from, not that Mac ever gave him a chance to.
One night at a party in the woods, Bennett was assaulted and fighting for his life. Frightened and bruised, Bennett refused to return to school and his family moved away. The family kept the house and ten years later, Bennett agrees to help his parents by returning to oversee repairs before it is sold. His mother neglected to tell him that the contractor is Mac, who now owns the house next door.
Working with Mac was never in Bennett’s plans and the guys antagonize each other with every conversation. They haven’t moved past the disdain they have for each other, but they also haven’t moved past the attraction they feel for each other either. When Bennett finds out a secret that has been kept from him for years, the men may begin to see each other in a whole new light, but there are still years of hurt feelings to navigate before the men can attempt to move forward.
I tried…I really tried with this one, but this book never came together for me. Morningstar Ashley is a new author to me and from what I can see this is her second book and I appreciate and look for new authors to discover. The book read as an early novel to me as it was clearly evident in the dialogue and some of the details and structure.
The book opens with a prologue and we get a short scene of Mac and Bennett. They have lived next door to each other for years and don’t like each other much. They don’t really know each other, but they antagonize each other at every turn. The men are a study in contrasts. Bennett is a good student, gets good grades, and has ambitions, where Mac likes his motorcycles over school. The scene between them is quick and we are told more than we see of their dislike for each other, so it wasn’t as well defined for me. There is then an incident where Bennett is attacked in the woods. The scene was not overly graphic, but I could have used more insight into the whole attack as it came across as muddled.
The book then moves forward twelve years. Bennett and his family moved away after the attack, but rented out their house. The family is now ready to sell and they send Bennett back to oversee the house repairs. The first person he sees is Mac.
The guys still hate each other and there is so much drama. They still talk to each other like teens. That’s where they left off in their relationship, but Bennett is a now a Ph.D. and Bennett owns a business and they were way too juvenile for me. Also, when Bennett is getting advice from his best friend, the friend talks to Bennett as a child who needs to see the error of his ways and the dynamic was off for me there as well. Mac and Bennett throw barbs at each other, refuse to really talk to each other, and get mad and stomp off giving the other the silent treatment. It went on too long for me. All the while, they check each other out, but the way their chemistry was written didn’t work for me because the overall vibe they give off is disdain for each other. When Bennett then learns a secret about Mac, the shift in his feelings just felt contrived for me. Also, when Bennett confronts one of his former “friends” in town, it also came off as forced.
One of the main reasons that Mac didn’t like Bennett was because his parents always wanted him to be more like Bennett. Twelve years later, the parents still want Mac to be more like Bennett and while they don’t care that he’s gay in small town America, they were embarrassed that Mac was a contractor and this was another dynamic in the book that didn’t work for me. The author did not make me believe in the relationship between Mac and Bennett and then I couldn’t buy into their sudden HEA. The book overall wasn’t for me.