In high school, chubby band geek Jimmy Zebulon was humiliated when his football player crush, Danny Parker, stood by while he was bullied. Fifteen years later, Jimmy’s taken his stepfather’s last name and uses his middle name as his first. Graham Swann is nothing like the boy Jimmy once was. But when he comes face to face with Dan Parker again, he’s right back there.
The two men get off to a rocky start, but since Dan is the new associate at Graham’s law firm, they have to make it work. Dan proves to be exceptionally proficient and eloquent in the court room, and when Graham learns about Dan’s daughter, Lacey, some things fall in to place. Dan is still mourning the loss of his husband, but it’s been three years and he’s ready to move on. He wants Graham, but Graham is reluctant. Not only is it hard for Graham to trust, and they have the whole working together thing in their way, but Dan has no idea Graham is Jimmy.
But as their friendship blossoms, feelings grow. Graham still hasn’t told Dan the truth about his past, but the two men are finding their feet in their relationship. Graham adores Lacey, and the three fit together well. But the past rears it’s ugly head, and when a case comes up for review at their firm, the two men have opposing opinions. The truth spills out and Dan feels betrayed. Graham knows he screwed up, but he doesn’t know how to fix it. But when a personal crisis befalls Dan, Graham will do whatever he can to help. If they can just work out their differences, they’ll find their happily ever after.
The premise of this book intrigued me, and I knew I’d be getting an angst-light book with this story, since it’s part of the Dreamspun Desires line. Anthony delivers exactly that. But Dan and Graham have their baggage, and they are both working through it, though Dan is a bit further along in the process. They are better together than they are apart, but old hurts keep Graham from fully letting go.
What I really enjoyed about this book was that both the MCs were well developed, fully fleshed out, and real feeling. They were, for the most part, adults and acted accordingly. Anthony is great at characterization and I felt as though I got to know both MCs and their motivations well. Their relationship felt natural, and the progression of it really worked. Ultimately, I was all on board for them to get their happily ever after. And I will say that four-year-old Lacey was written age appropriately, and she was adorable without being overwhelming. I think the author used both men’s relationship with her to really showcase integral parts of their character, which is something I don’t often see done well. So that was a plus.
But I will say there’s one thing that bothered me, and that was Graham keeping his secret. I understood why, and even agreed with it to a point. But I was disappointed in how, and when, it was revealed to Dan and the subsequent blow up. I knew it was coming, and wasn’t surprised, but considering the way I felt about the characters, and how invested Dan and Graham were in each other, I would have liked to see it handled differently. Or at the very least, for it to come sooner in the book. As it was, the last portion of the book was the big reveal, the argument, and then an emotion heavy crisis and resolution. While I thought the author did a fine job with it, it felt rushed to me and therefore didn’t have the same emotional impact as it could have.
But the HEA at the end in the epilogue was wonderfully satisfying, and I did enjoy this book. If you’re a fan of the Desires line, or of this author, then I definitely suggest you pick this up. And if you’re looking to give either a try, this might be one to start with.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.