Ethan Robinson heads home early on the day before his wedding, only to find his fiancé and his best friend together in bed. Ethan knows things haven’t been absolutely perfect with Michael, but the sense of betrayal is incredible, especially because both men had been such a source of support when Ethan was dealing with depression stemming from his late-onset hearing loss. The idea that they not only were cheating on him, but that they can no longer be counted on in his life is doubly hard.
Still reeling from the situation, Ethan decides on a whim to take his honeymoon to Australia after all. Visiting Australia has always been his dream and so he is determined to make the best of it. It isn’t easy traveling alone however, especially as most of the tour seems to be seniors. Also, with Ethan’s hearing loss, it can be difficult to follow what the tour guides are saying and the crowded restaurants and tourist locations make it even hard to hear clearly and it makes him feel even more isolated. The only thing offering some consolation is the presence of the hunky bus driver, Clay Kelly.
Clay divorced a few years ago and started life over with a new job in a new city. He and Ethan hit it off and Clay finds himself spending some of his free time with the young man. Clay is really surprised to realize he is feeling an attraction toward Ethan, as he has always thought himself to be straight. Yet, despite his past, Clay is realizing that his sexual interests may be different than he ever realized. As Ethan and Clay begin exploring their connection, each finds comfort and support in the other. However, with Ethan set to return home when the vacation ends, things may be over with the two of them before it even really starts.
I read pretty much everything Keira Andrews writes, so Honeymoon for One was an easy choice for me to pick up for Self-Published Book Week in our Reading Challenge Month. In some ways, this is a storyline I have read many times before. In romanceland, it is BAD idea to come home early and surprise your partner! And the solo vacation leading to unexpected love is a common trope as well. But despite the familiar concepts, I think Andrews does a nice job giving the story some creativity and uniqueness. In particular, I appreciated incorporating a character who is dealing with a physical challenge and Andrews does a great job helping us see the world from Ethan’s perspective.
Ethan began to lose his hearing as a young adult, and it took about four years for him to really come to terms with it. During that time, he dealt with feelings of depression as faced the prospect of his hearing loss getting steadily more severe. He lost both his parents as a child, and that, combined with the betrayal from his boyfriend and best friend, has left him feeling very isolated. Adding on the fact that he is solo on a trip without anyone else his age, and things are kind of rough for him at first. Andrews does a great job highlighting the challenges Ethan faces communicating. He is self conscious and hates having to ask people to repeat themselves, but if he is in a noisy place or someone isn’t speaking clearly or directly at him, it can be hard to understand. So there are times that Ethan pulls himself out of situations because he feels like conversation is too hard, or the ambient noise bothers him too much.
In addition to helping us understand Ethan on a practical level, this background really helps us understand Ethan’s character, and why the situation with Michael has really struck his self esteem. He worries a lot about whether people are bothered by repeating themselves, or if Clay really wants to hang out with him. I’ll admit that at times I started to feel overwhelmed by the constant self doubt. I think Andrews absolutely explains the root of Ethan’s feelings, so it is all very much rooted in his character. But as a reader at times it got overwhelming for me.
I enjoyed watching these guys fall for one another, as well as seeing Clay come to a realization about his own sexuality. His journey felt very real and I could understand how he was wavering between wanting to explore his feelings and his concerns about how to relate all this to his children and family. The romance between them did feel kind of quick to me. The guys are together about 10 days before major life changes are happening, and while I like the “just embrace life and go for it mentality,” it was still kind of hard for me to imagine the leap the guys take so fast. It just felt a bit of whirlwind to me, and with such major upheaval in both their lives, felt even more like they were jumping into things so quickly.
So I enjoyed this story, but I don’t think it was my favorite of Andrews’ impressive body of work. The guys just didn’t quite click enough for me to really feel the bond, especially so quickly. But I did find the characters to be well developed, and Ethan particularly interesting. If you are looking for a story of two guys starting over rand finding themselves in the process, Honeymoon for One is a good choice.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for Self-Published Book Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of the great prize packs of self-published books donated by some very generous authors. Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a Kindle Fire filled with Dreamspun Desires/Beyond books, plus a 3-month subscription!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on Self-Published Book Week here, including a list of all the books in this week’s prize.