Rating: 3.25 stars
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When James’s truck decides to break down, it goes out with a bang. Fortunately, he’s rescued by a hot tow truck driver. When they get back to the garage, Dylan asks for James’s number. A few days later, after Dylan fixes the truck, they go out for coffee and their first date. James is a senior in high school, but he’s 18, and it doesn’t bother him that Dylan’s 20. He knows his dad will freak out though, so James is quite happy to keep things quiet and get to know Dylan.
Steve is out with friends when he sees a hot man hustling pool. He realizes that it’s a guy he once hooked up with at a club, and buys the man a drink. Mark accepts and asks for Steve’s number. They begin casually dating, and have lots of sex, but both men keep the relationship quiet from their children, wanting to see where things go between them first.
Both relationships grow and flourish. Dylan shares his past with James, and James tells Dylan about how he’s just finding his feet in the dating world. Mark shares stories of his kids with Steve, who in turn talks about his son, whom he adopted at 14 and who has had a troubled past. Just as they are all getting to the meet the family stage in their relationships, the world implodes for them all.
It turns out that James is Mark’s son and Dylan is Steve’s son. The dads are dating each other and the sons are in love with each other. In the heat of the moment, harsh words are thrown and over reactions abound. The only way to fix any of this is for real communication to happen between all of the men. And even though it’s hard, they all know it’s worth it.
Okay, I admit. I was definitely intrigued by this blurb and I wanted to see how this story played out. While there were a few shining moments in this story, a few moments I really enjoyed, on the whole the style of writing here didn’t work for me and really impeded the story.
So what did I like? I enjoyed the characters, especially James and Dylan. Their love was one that was full of sweet and heat, a perfect balance between the two. I loved the way they brought out the best in each other and they really talked to one another about the tough stuff. In a lot of ways, they were more grown up than the older characters. Their relationship was believable and earnest, as much as it was romantic and emotional. So these guys and their romance worked for me.
But what didn’t work? Pretty much the rest of the book. I liked Steve, and Mark too for the most part. As characters on their own, they were well written and well rounded. However, I had a bit more trouble with their relationship. There wasn’t enough spark between them that made me believe they’d go from a hooking up lifestyle to a relationship. Eventually, I could see what drew them together, but there just wasn’t enough exploration there for me to really believe it.
Mark, as well, kind of went off the rails a bit at the end. It made sense, to a degree, but it was also pretty extreme for the situation. Of course, that seemed to be the case in the latter third of the book. While the beginning was all about these two relationships and finding their way, everything kind of went too big at the end. People showed up who didn’t need to be there and ultimately served no purpose to enhance the story. Dylan shares a moment from his past that is huge and traumatic, but it’s barely given any page time and is all okay now because he went to therapy. Much of the last third of the book didn’t sit well with me. And here’s where I add a content warning for sexual abuse of a minor. It’s not shown, but it is talked about, and it isn’t handled particularly well in my opinion.
And then there was the style of writing itself. There were a lot of time jumps followed by a few sentence to catch the reader up on the missing action. A few of these are fine and can be used to enhance the story and move the pace. But there were far too many in this book and it left me feeling like I was missing being a part of key things. The dialogue was sometimes awkward and stilted, not reading naturally for the characters or even for the action it accompanied. This threw the pacing off for me, and the story didn’t flow well.
So all in all, I have to say this book didn’t work for me. It had promise at the beginning, and I liked the characters, so I had hoped it would continue on. But it’s pretty clear early on that it wasn’t going to, and the few parts I really enjoyed weren’t enough to redeem the book as a whole.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.