Ethan Yoder hails from a small town in Indiana. He worked on the family farm, but he has big dreams to go to the big city. Graduating from a private liberal college, he’s ready to strike out on his own. One day, he gets a call from a staffing agency with an offer to work a four-month temp job at a pharmaceutical company and Ethan jumps on the opportunity.
Marcus Light works at that company and he’s miserable. He hates his job and he’s not good at romantic relationships. His only joy is his close group of college friends, who he loves like family. Marcus is a little shocked when, after requesting some help, Ethan is assigned to him.
For a week, Marcus fends off Ethan’s requests to do more than grunt work. When Ethan decides to confront Marcus, Marcus tells him he requested Ethan be assigned to another group because he wants to date him. He’s actually rather forward about it. It takes a bit of convincing, but eventually, Ethan gives in and decides to go, insisting Marcus wine and dine him.
Things are going well between the men, but both of them have issues that need to be worked through. Ethan’s never been in a relationship, only having short encounters in bathrooms, his truck, etc. Meanwhile, Marcus has to work through problems with his mother and his sexuality. If they’re going to make it as a couple, they have to work together to get past their insecurities and problems, but it’s not easy at all.
When I saw the blurb for Crossroads, I jumped on it. I love boss/employee stories. I also love stories where an MC comes from a small town to be successful in a big city. I had very high hopes, but unfortunately, I was completely disappointed.
Let me start by telling you I didn’t connect with Ethan or Marcus at all. I didn’t feel anything for them. I thought both men were cranky smart alecs. Perhaps the author was trying to emphasize their insecurities. You know, covering their issues with humor and sarcasm. It didn’t come off as that, and it only served to lower my opinion of Ethan and Marcus.
I do want to talk about Marcus for a bit. He was hard to like, but I did find myself having some feelings for him when he tried explaining his sexual identity to Ethan. Although he wasn’t sure of the word to describe himself, he eventually identifies as graysexual. This means romantic love is wonderful, but he doesn’t want to have sex. He enjoys kissing, cuddling, and well…romance. He doesn’t particularly like sex, however he can manifest sexual desire under certain circumstances. Marcus wants to snuggle under a blanket with Ethan, eat popcorn, and watch Golden Girls, but he did feel desire while he was in his apartment with Ethan. Marcus gave Ethan a blow job and enjoyed it, and the men did have sex (at least I think they did). The next morning, Ethan wants round two, but Marcus doesn’t. I became a little sad for Marcus because he was being honest with Ethan, but Ethan didn’t really understand until later.
Ethan? I wasn’t really into him at all. However, there was a point when, Mary, a dear member of his family, passed away (she was the only one who understood Ethan’s homosexuality and encouraged him to be himself). It’s obvious his parents and brother don’t understand him, and people in town don’t want him there. I felt sad for him. He genuinely loved Mary and wanted to be there for him, but he was being shut out.
There were points in the book where I was left confused and put off. While there weren’t any plot holes per se, I felt the story jumped around a lot and it wasn’t very smooth. The men seemed to run hot and cold to each other and to the people around them. I went back a few times to reread passages because I became lost from one chapter to another.
I know conflict helps to move a story along. I say that a lot, but the conflicts in Crossroads felt manufactured to me…and worse than they should have been. There was a misunderstanding that turned into accusations of cheating and anger at not being trusted. Any positive feelings I had developed for them faded away.
There were a few background characters that are worth mentioning. Marcus has a great group of college friends who are supportive and Marcus feels safe with them. However, he has the exact opposite with his mother. She’s bipolar and manipulative. Poor Marcus always has to deal with messes she makes and that became part of his personality. Ethan’s parents and brother are featured. They don’t understand him and they say they want what’s best for him, but don’t necessarily understand that he’s happy and actually getting what’s best. There was a bit of a sub plot involving a good ol’ boy called Jeb who took Ethan’s virginity, then outed him in front of everyone and proceeded to treat him with disdain. There’s mention made that Jeb has a proclivity for young boys, and some young men want to give him what’s coming to him. I think that would have been an excellent way to develop Ethan’s character a bit more, but it seemed to fall by the wayside.
The ending was exactly what I expected. There were no real surprises there. The epilogue gave me the HEA I was waiting for, and truthfully, I was glad to have come to the end of the book.
All in all, I just did not care for Crossroads. Basically, I thought the meandering plot and situations that could have been interesting were just sort of put aside. Ethan and Marcus were hard to like, and by the end, I didn’t feel invested in their relationship. I do want to emphasize all of this is my opinion. While Crossroads rubbed me wrong and wasn’t my cup of tea, it doesn’t mean someone else might enjoy it. I’m a fan of the States of Love series and this one story doesn’t sour my opinion of the rest of the books. Check this one out at your own risk.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.