Tony awarding winning musician Reese Matheson comes back from a whirlwind tour in London to his girlfriend publicly breaking up with him. Reese is fine with that, and takes the opportunity to move into the cottage with his grandfather. It means displacing his grandfather’s caregiver, but Reese wants as much time as he can get before Alzheimer’s takes his grandfather.
Jude De la Torre is upset about unceremoniously being fired and is desperately trying to find a new job. When Reese calls him in a panic, Jude heads back to the Matheson’s. He cares about Grandpa, and he wants what’s best for the old man. It’s not easy, considering his attraction to Reese.
The two men get off to a rocky start, but it quickly becomes clear they have the same interests in mind. They both want Grandpa safe and happy. And they both want each other. But Reese wants everything right now and Jude hasn’t even come out to his family. His strong roots in the Filipino culture make things even more difficult. Reese can’t just understand why their love isn’t enough. It takes a break up, and some hard conversations on Reese’s part, before they can even begin to work toward anything more. And even then, it might be too late.
I was intrigued as soon as I read the blurb for this one. It was interesting to see a musician who wasn’t a rock star, though Reese has had a moment in the spotlight there too, and I really enjoyed the opposites attract thing going on here. Reese is a mess, unorganized, and forceful. Jude is calm, collected, and coolheaded. They balance each other out nicely in that regard, and I liked the way the author played with that trope and bounced these guys off each other.
But I have to say that I found Reese…rather hard to like. He was a bit childish and self-centered. And he’s always sincerely sorry when he missteps. But where I had the problem was when he felt he knew what was best, he’d be demanding and insistent, and even take steps and make decisions without Jude’s input. And this was all supposed to be endearing and to prove how much he cared about Jude. It didn’t work for me at all, and the relationship in the book suffered because of it. That’s not to say Reese didn’t have a good heart, and where Grandpa was concerned, it showed through. But I wasn’t buying his relationship with Jude and the lack of chemistry between them left me wanting.
I did really enjoy Jude as a character though. He’s so stubborn and self-assured, even when it’s detrimental. He’s determined to do the right thing, to be apart of his family in the way they want, to take care of his younger siblings while their parents are away, and he’s incredibly kind hearted. I couldn’t understand what he saw in Reese, though. As I said, the relationship just didn’t work for me.
I thought the author did a good job exploring two fairly heavy themes. The first was Grandpa’s failing health. Having experienced a grandparent with dementia first hand, I think the author did a good job of capturing the experience and expressing the feelings that go with it. Grandpa was a great character, and Merrill does a good job fleshing the character out and making him feel real.
Then there’s Jude’s traditional, Catholic, Filipino family. Jude knows if he comes out, he’ll be disappointing his family. And he’s reluctant to lose them over it. Reese doesn’t understand this, and in fact makes matters worse at one point, but I thought the author did a nice job showing the family and it’s beliefs. Not everyone felt the same way about things, some were supportive, and the importance of the family for Jude was stressed. This added another layer to the story.
So all in all, this book was kind of a mixed bag for me. There were parts I really enjoyed, but with a MC that didn’t work for me, it was missing something vital. I was hoping for a bit more than what I got with this book, but it’s a nice story at it’s core. If opposites attract is your thing, then this is definitely one to check out.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.