Story Rating: 3.75 stars
Audio Rating: 4 stars
Narrator: Ry Forest
Length: 4 hours, 36 minutes
Ben Shane has just accepted a proposal from his boyfriend of one year. Alan Ashland is wealthy beyond belief, but Ben’s struggling with his unexpected role as Alan’s soon-to-be trophy husband. Ben manages a corporate trust; funding research and humanitarian aid is his dream job. And the more Alan pushes, the less Ben’s feeling like he made the right decision about getting married.
It doesn’t help that Ben’s inexplicably attracted to the young dogsbody of his office, all-around handyman Dusty Kinkaid. In a thinly-veiled effort to get closer to Dusty without revealing his guilty secrets, Ben offers to hire Dusty to oversee the renovation project at his residence, which is overdue and likely over budget. Alan wants Ben to dump the place—another sticking point between them. Ben meets a woman who could be the next mega-donor for the foundation while at his own engagement party as she’s a good friend of his fiancé’s family. Ben’s sure to destroy any chance of a donation if anything goes amiss between himself and Alan, but Ben’s attraction to Dusty is clearly a death knell for their relationship. Is Dusty, a young man with odd habits and constant health issues, worth giving up Alan’s…regard?
This is the second book in the Love You So series, but fully enjoyable on its own. Ry Forest narrates both stories and has a wide range of voice inflection so he’s able to manage the female bits without difficulty, while also differentiating the wide range of male characters. As an audiobook, I truly enjoyed the narration and dramatization. There’re some appearances from the MCs of the previous book, Love You So Hard, who counsel Ben in his times of trial.
The story, on its own, has some issues that might be off-putting. Ben’s commitment issues are front-and-center of the plot. I think his interactions with Alan make his questioning very reasonable. Alan’s constantly snapping at Ben to conform to his ideal of a partner, not taking into account Ben’s needs. Ben stands up for himself, but is continually wooed back in line by Alan’s apologies and promises to do better. Plus, pining for a man he doesn’t know isn’t a good enough reason to break things off, is it?
Dusty, for his part, is a sweet guy with a terrible crush on Ben. Catching any of Ben’s attention is like winning a lotto jackpot. Dusty’s chronic health challenges and financial issues have wrecked his self-confidence. But his hero worship is keen and that strokes Ben’s ego in all the right ways. Meanwhile, Ben’s need to care for Dusty, in whatever capacity he can, only escalates once he learns the extent of Dusty’s illness. It seems to be a tragedy of timing, but Ben’s commitment to doing the right thing—by himself, by Dusty, and by Alan—leads to an unexpected windfall. It’s a happily ever after for this seemingly mismatched couple.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.