Bailey McCreedy was kicked out of his home when he was young because he was gay. Now, he works in customer service for the local energy company. He’s not crazy about the job, but it pays the bills and he gets to work with his best friend, Ryan. However, Bailey has another passion. He loves books and he packs his old van full of them, making a mobile library and driving around the areas of town where the residents might not have access to anything to read at all. Bailey and Ryan often visit a coffee shop close to the energy company. Yes, the coffee and sandwiches are great, but Bailey likes to go because of the handsome barista who always serves them.
Tom Brooks is that barista. He used to be in high finance, but after something happened, he decided to sink his savings into the coffee shop. He’s doing ok, but he’s not doing as well as he’d hoped. His friends offer to help him, but he’s stubborn and refuses. One day, while Tom is stocking muffins, Bailey comes into Take Two (the clever name for the shop) and he and Tom have a friendly conversation. There’s an attraction there, but neither man acts on it right away.
What follows is the story of Bailey and Tom finding their way to each other and slowly falling in love. It isn’t all hearts and roses, however, and there are obstacles they need to cross before they get their happily ever after.
I really enjoyed this book! You are all aware of my love of books and libraries (I wouldn’t be here otherwise). Pay it Forward gave me a charming character who may just love them more than me. I saw a lot of myself in Bailey, and that completely endeared him to me. Tom is just as wonderful. He’s a fundamentally good man who, through no fault of his own, was involved in something rather unfortunate, and with Take Two, he wants to redeem himself.
Right away, the chemistry between Bailey and Tom is obvious. It’s nothing explosive. It’s just a sweet attraction that eventually leads to more. Their dialogue felt natural, as did their interactions. Also, there was no real conflict to speak of. Mostly, they were both having some personal issues and they didn’t discuss them with each other because they wanted to get through them on their own. They should have trusted each other, but seriously, that’s it. There’s no big bad guy. There’s no breakup/makeup. Their friends are faithful and loyal and want to help them. Pay it Forward was simply a touching love story.
Speaking of faithful and loyal friends, Bailey and Tom hit the jackpot. Bailey has Ryan and the people who come for his books, but there are three young people who influence his life: Cassie, Jude, and Emma. They’re homeless teens, with issues of their own, but they obviously love Bailey and want what’s best for him, and that’s Tom. Tom has his three best buddies in John, Phil, and Elliot. They think the world of Tom and want to help him out while he’s going through this rough spot, but they understand when Tom turns them down. Still, they’re great friends and confidants. I believe both Bailey and Tom are lucky men to have such a support system. All of them could have books of their own, especially John, Phil, and Elliot. I liked them all well enough, that I wouldn’t hesitate to read them.
As I mentioned, there is little to no conflict here. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll say Tom’s issue happened when he was working for a finance company. He didn’t do anything wrong, but he feels just terrible about it. Bailey had been kicked out of his home by his bigoted father. It’s a common theme for a story, but it was really great to see him working with people doing what he loves. Basically, Pay it Forward is a chronicle of the daily life of two really great guys who love each other very much. I considered this to be perfect. It was what I like to call a “comfort read.” I was able to easily sink into it, and I was compelled to finish in one sitting.
The ending wrapped the book up nicely, as expected. It was a lovely Happily Ever After for two deserving men. Nic Starr’s writing style is smooth and detailed, without being overwhelming, so everything flowed beautifully. I consider myself a fan of hers, and Pay it Forward helps to cement that fan status. I am excited to see what will follow in the Giving Back series.