When, out of five other siblings, Seth Goodwin’s father singles him out to be the man in charge of their on-the-road construction team, it should be a dream come true. Seth knows its an honor and his heart’s firmly in the company his father built. Yet he also can’t quite get over the fact that part of his father’s decision to pass up his older brothers was driven by Seth’s perennially single state. And Seth can’t really argue—he is the only single singleton with zero prospects, something he fears might be because he’s “boring.”
Boring has never been an adjective to describe Tyler Faulkner. He has an eye for color and design and he isn’t afraid to get his hands (or anything else) dirty to see his visions come to life. Until the client of the TV studio where he works asks for the “throwaway” design. Too much an artist to let anything so atrocious as stenciled bears be associated with his designs, Tyler builds the set that will sell the show—only to end up fired. Out of a job and out of his studio-sponsored home, he jumps at the chance to work with the Goodwins.
From the start, Seth is impressed with not just the quality of the designs, but the real enthusiasm Tyler shows for realizing them. In fact, Tyler cements his good-guy impression when he saves Seth’s crew from a near disaster build. Even better, Tyler is a natural at teaching the younger members of Seth’s crew the right way to lay tile or cut a countertop—saving the Goodwin’s company time and money. As the weeks pass, Seth and Tyler start spending more time together—somewhat removed from the rest of the crew by their managerial roles.
Where Tyler is quick to develop a crush on his boss—who wouldn’t love the confident, capable Seth—he also knows how much is at stake if he lets his attraction get out of control. What he doesn’t know is that Seth isn’t quite as straight as he seems; rather, he’s more inexperienced and likes to take things so slow and he gets friend-zoned before he’s ready to move to the next step. And while Seth struggles to understand the unfamiliar attraction he feels, once he realizes its more than friendship he wants with Tyler, he’s afraid he’s too boring for someone as stunning as Tyler.
The very nature of their jobs, however, keep Seth and Tyler in close quarters often and as they build their friendship, both are cautious to keep their hearts safe.
It’s been a long time since I been *able* to read a book nonstop, much less had the *time* to do that. However, that is exactly what happened one Saturday. I thought I’d just get a start on this book—see what the characters were like. Five hours later, I knew I had to make an executive decision: homework and prep for a brunch party or keep reading. I kept reading.
First, I like how both Seth and Tyler get their own independent introductions. We meet Seth at a family gathering and get the lay of the land so to speak—how he’s the only single one in a big family that keeps growing because his siblings keep having more kids and that makes him the best suited to a life on the road with the family’s contracting building service. The only thing is that they’ll need another designer because having one person design for two full-time teams is a nonstarter. In the next chapter, we are introduced to Tyler in his own element, Hollywood, California, and about as opposite from the Goodwins from the heartland as you could hope for.
Both characters really stood out to me in almost entirely positive ways. Seth is the clean-cut, working-class kind of guy who drives a beat up truck for work and is a natural leader, even if he lets his sense of responsibility separate him and his crew into two classes so to speak. What made Seth special for me was the way he loves. For him, it’s one thing to have the built-in family system he’s clearly got and quite another to find a romantic partner. The details are slim, but we do find out his romantic history includes all of two people: one girl and one boy and both far in the past. The way he describes how he falls in love plays out on page in a conversation between him and Tyler and I, personally, felt very connected with what he was saying.
I felt Tyler was a bit more “common” in that his background story starts and ends with his family rejecting him for being fabulously queer. With the exception of some of the tender moments his thread created between Tyler and Seth, I found Tyler’s background mostly irrelevant. That said, it clearly drives some of the high emotional drama from Tyler towards the end. On the one hand, I enjoyed the angst. On the other hand, it felt a bit over the top for the character I had grown to really enjoy over the course of the book—that is, one who is not ashamed to be his fabulous self with eyeliner, lip color, and nail polish, and at the same time not letting it define who he is (seems like I’ve read more than a few books where the makeup WAS the man).
There is a long, slow burn between Tyler and Seth. Mostly, I enjoyed flip flopping between chapters told from Tyler’s POV and Seth’s POV. Being privy to both narratives makes it quite obvious that Tyler relegates Seth to Straight Man territory and Seth is charmingly obtuse to what his body’s telling him it wants. Even better, Seth is genuine clueless that he’s developing romantic feelings for Tyler. My only real quibble with the unfolding of their romance is when we eventually get to the point with Seth where he’s like “shit or get off the pot” about finding out for sure if Tyler is gay and available AND where Tyler is firmly wallowing in his unrequited romantic feelings. Soon after, there is a scene where I couldn’t help but think “THIS IS IT!” only for both characters to throw on the emergency brakes. I suppose this pause sort of heightens the “chase” when one of them follows the other to the ends of Ohio and further (twice!). Personally, though, I could have done with them getting together sooner.
All in all, though, I really enjoyed this book. The characters are fleshed out to drive the plot in this get together very well. The non-traditional sexuality Seth represented was a welcomed surprise and the portrayal of Tyler was a great counterpoint to characters who seem ready to define and defend themselves by their appearance—not bad for a story about construction workers.