To celebrate the milestone of turning thirty-five years old, Fin goes with his workaholic lover, Lance, to their Spanish holiday home in Catalonia. For Fin, the town of Calamendrera is more than just a vacation getaway. He wants to give up the rat race waiting for him back home in London and live full time in Catalonia. When Lance points out the logistical difficulties in uprooting one’s life on a whim, tension begins to grow between the couple. Things take a turn for the worse when Julian, an old friend of Fin’s, turns up and brings a very attractive, very available politician with him named Estéban Vilaró Figueres.
For Julian, life is just one big party—one that he hopes will help him forget that he let Fin slip through his fingers years ago. He is pleased to discover that Fin is spending part of the summer in Calamendrera, the very city where Julian himself has a palatial mansion befitting his upper crust status. Amid lavish parties and the local Pride celebrations, Julian gets to spend some time with Fin—hiding his crush on the younger man by being outrageously flirty with everyone and working hard to pair Fin up with Estéban. But when Lance discovers that Julian and Fin once had something of a thing, he takes it hard despite the fact that he and Fin have always had an open relationship.
Suddenly, Fin is struggling to evaluate his life on all fronts. The dream of living in Catalonia seems more and more like an impossibility. The comfortable, open relationship he had with Lance is on the rocks. The attraction he feels for the Estéban is unrelenting. And it all leads back to one man: Julian.
I had a hell of a time trying to read this book. The quality of writing is poor. Concannon shows no concept of how to structure a sentence or what to do with a comma. There are several grammatical errors pertaining to extraneous/missing commas on just about every page. Quotation usage is also inconsistent. Most dialogue uses single quotes, but double quotes inexplicably appear a few times in the text. Dialogue is also poorly done. In fact, several characters have lengthy passages of dialogue. By “lengthy,” I mean a single character may be speaking for upwards of two full pages or more. For example, there are pages of discussion about a flamenco dancer Julian knows; Concannon has his characters describe her dancing style and her politics in great detail, but the character never amounts to much in terms of importance to the plot. Quotation marks during these pages-long passages are often poorly utilized. This is problematic because it meant I couldn’t tell if a single character was still speaking on (and on and on) or if the dialogue had stopped and we’d entered normal narration.
As far as the characters go, I was utterly unimpressed with our two lovers, Fin and Lance. They were indistinguishable during their introductory scene, both coming across as vapid and shallow. Their relationship was presented in a confusing way as all early signs indicated these two were in a committed, exclusive relationship. It came as a surprise during the last third or so of the book when Julian points out that Fin and Lance were in an open relationship and free to see and bed other people. Having that point made clearer earlier on would have been nice and cleared up a lot of my confusion.
When Lance finds out Fin and Julian had shared a night of passion prior to Fin and Lance becoming an item, Lance is upset. I thought this was going to be the meat-and-potatoes element of the book. Instead, it just serves as a way to get Lance out of Fin’s hair. I cannot figure out why Concannon failed to highlight the open aspect of the Fin/Lance relationship earlier because Fin engages in sexual activity with Estéban before Lance has blown up over discovering Fin and Julian had a past. Because I was under the impression Fin/Lance were exclusive, I was appalled on Lance’s behalf when Fin gave Estéban a blowjob. I was further disappointed when Fin goes on to blame Lance for going back to London (ostensibly for work, but also just to get away from Fin, who Lance now feels he cannot trust)…and that’s it. That’s Fin’s entire justification for letting his relationship with Lance go. Nevermind that they’d been together for years, friends thought they were married (?!), and they presumably co-owned property in a foreign country.
Rather than being a juicy tale of jealousy, of falling in and/or out of love, this feels more like a vehicle to tell the story of Julian’s past. The long-winded stories everyone loves to give center on details of Julian’s peerage history. If you have the patience to wade through pages and pages of backstory, there’s a bit of a bang in the truth about Julian’s parents…but why does Julian get such a great backstory when he’s just a side character harboring unrequited love for Fin?
From start to finish, I found this book a tremendous chore to read. Poorly written sentences require re-reading to make sense. Poorly crafted threads make it unclear who this book is really supposed to be about, the changes in Fin and Lance’s relationship (including Fin’s deep feelings for that politician), or wealthy Julian’s unrequited love for Fin, or the 87 other characters who cobble together the story of Julian’s parents’ history. I’d give this book a hard pass.