Nate Ellison is a construction worker in Hawaii. He’s not been there very long. He and his infant son, Neil, are on their own after his wife, Olivia, left them to be with another man three months back. Nate’s still adjusting, but he’s got a support system, including his sister, Amy, and Amy’s girlfriend. One rainy day, while trying to open his mailbox and keep Neil from getting upset, Nate meets a friendly man who helps him with that mailbox. Feeling grateful, Nate offers to walk the man to his car because he’s forgotten his umbrella.
Dr. Andrew (An) Hoang is a busy man. He’s got a thriving practice and, on his days off, he takes care of his beloved niece, Diana, a precocious five-year old. Both he and his sister, Linh, are disappointments to their strict Vietnamese parents…An for being gay and Linh getting pregnant as an unmarried teen. An hasn’t had any sort of relationship recently because he’s got no time. However, he keeps thinking about his handsome new neighbor with the sweet smile.
A chance meeting brings them together once more. An is the doctor who gives Neil his well baby exam. He gives his number to Nate, telling him if he needs anything to give him a call. Nate doesn’t expect to need it…until he does. What follows is a slow burn friends to lovers relationship. Everything is great until the past comes calling for Nate, and An’s parents’ judgmental and old fashioned opinions, threaten their newfound happiness. Will they be able to muddle through these obstacles, or will their love be tested enough for them to let go of each other for good?
I really like opposites attract stories. The blurb for Brave for You intrigued me. Not only do Nate and An have completely different jobs, there is a cultural difference. An was raised in a strict Vietnamese home. His parents are very old fashioned–hugely old fashioned–and Nate’s wife left him and Neil for another man. Still, once Nate and An begin seeing each other, as friends at first and then as lovers, everything seems to be smooth sailing. Even though events beyond their control begin to take place, it’s obvious they care very much for each other.
I really liked Nate and An. They were honorable men with a lot of responsibilities, especially with the children in their lives. They’re important to their sisters and their jobs are demanding. However, they make it through strength of character and their blooming love for each other.
Even though the story is a slow burn with the men starting as just friends, they had chemistry from the very beginning. It was sweet reading about the two of them slowly falling for each other. When I say slow, though, I mean slow. It’s not that I’m not all for a nice work up to blissful coupledom. I am. However, I felt this part of the book dragged.
There are two major conflicts in the book. With regard to one, I was furious for the guys, but I will say this: to bring about the amount of emotion I was experiencing, the author has to be good. The amount of detail she included was perfect, but not overwhelming. The same goes for an uncomfortable and anger inducing dinner with An’s parents. They were so mean to Nate, and Nate handled it all with grace. It was impressive. Also, An’s fury (which was well deserved) at his mother and father was handled nicely. It wasn’t knock down/drag out, but it was enough to put them in their place.
I would say the men’s sisters were the most important background characters here. They loved their brothers, that much is obvious, but I didn’t much care for them. I felt they were way too invasive in their relationship. An example of this was a phone call from Nate’s sister, Amy, while he was having lunch with An. When he tells her he’s with An, she wants to know every detail, thus keeping him from actually enjoying the meal. It’s a small issue, but it went a ways to make me feel uncomfortable. Others may think this is a charming trait, and that’s ok. Reading makes different people have different ideas, and that is what makes it a wonderful thing.
In the end, I was pleased with the way things turned out (Except a thing with Nate’s ex. I was still pretty pissed at her.). It wrapped up nicely with the perfect Happily Ever After. I wound up with a special place in my heart for Nate and An. I rooted so hard for them and I was so pleased to have been given a lovely payoff. This is a terrific beginning to a series, and I’m so excited to read what comes next.