Rating: 3.75 stars
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Todd McGower is happy that his ex-boyfriend/best friend Rusty has found love with his boyfriend, Niles. But that doesn’t keep Todd from feeling alone, especially since his breakup with Rusty meant losing the built in family he had with Rusty’s sister and niece. Now Todd’s sex life consists mostly of his hookups with his enemy-with-benefits, Victor Consuelos. Victor is Niles’ best friend and he and Todd have been hooking up in secret for months.
Victor enjoys his time with Todd; in fact, while their bickering leads to some fabulous sex, Victor can admit to himself that he actually quite likes Todd. When Victor needs to bring a plus-one to a family wedding, he finds himself inviting Todd along to pretend to be his boyfriend. Getting to play boyfriends for the weekend confirms for Victor how much he likes Todd, and it seems that even though they have been at odds since they started hooking up, the guys actually get along with each other well. In fact, they get along a little too well and a cozy weekend, combined with too much wine, leads to their secret hookups turning into a secret marriage. Now Todd and Victor need to decide if they can turn their relationship from frenemies to true love, and if they are meant for marriage or they should call the whole thing off.
Life of Bliss is the second book in the Love Life series and a follow up to McLellan’s Life on Pause. That is Rusty and Niles’ book and we meet Todd and Victor there as the guys’ best friends. In that first story, we do see the guys at odds and bickering with one another, but I don’t think you need to have read that book to enjoy this as their relationship development really occurs here.
I enjoyed Todd and Victor individually, as well as their dynamic together in that first book, and so I was excited to get their story here. Despite the bickering that is the foundation of their relationship, they are both sweet guys and they are likable together. I particularly enjoyed Victor and his large and close family. I think the set up here is entertaining and story is a nice balance of fun, sexy, and romantic and it’s a nice easy read.
I do think that the set up offered some potential that wasn’t fully realized here, however, and the story suffered from being a little bit bland. The set up gives us enemies to lovers, a fake boyfriend scenario, and a secret marriage they are keeping hidden from even their best friends. There should have been a lot of tension and excitement and conflict here, but all the rough edges are pretty smoothed away. Although these guys have been having hate sex for months, by the time this story opens, it is clear to us (and to them) that they aren’t really enemies. In fact, Victor can admit to himself that he has feelings for Todd. So while their bickering adds a little spice to their love life, they are pretty much already quite friendly when the story opens and we don’t see much of that frenemies dynamic. Not much really comes out of the fake relationship or the secret marriage either, other than the guys realizing how much they like one another. Even the fact that they are keeping this all a secret from their best friends (including the fact that Todd has been living in another city for months and no one notices) doesn’t really materialize into anything. So I think there is some unrealized potential here and it makes the story a little bit flat.
I also sometimes felt like Todd’s interest in Victor is too focused on the fact that he comes with a ready-made family and social circle. Todd feels adrift, his own family isn’t particularly warm, and he longs for what Victor has. So much of Todd deciding he wants things to work out with Victor seems centered around the sense of belonging he gets with him, and I’d have liked to see more about why he wants Victor for himself and not what he brings to the table.
Overall, however, I found this an enjoyable read. Victor and Todd are both likable guys and I was happy to see them get their story. I think there was some unrealized potential here given the set up, but this is an entertaining story about some nice guys and a good follow up to the first book.