Story Rating: 3.75 stars
Audio Rating: 3.25 stars

Narrator: Colin Darcy
Length: 7 hours, 38 minutes

Audiobook Buy Links: Amazon/Audible | iBooks
Book Buy Links: Amazon | iBooks

Remy Sean is loved by millions. With his good looks, easy charm, and beautiful singing voice, it would be hard not to fall in love with him, a fact that Remy uses shamelessly to get what, and who, he wants. Sometimes, though, all that love, all that need and want and passion can spill over, much as it did in Athens when a crowd barrier fell down and he was rushed by dozens of screaming, grasping fans who climbed on the stage to get to him. Remy still suffers nightmares and hasn’t been able to sing or write since then. His manager, Buddy, knows a quiet place where Remy can rest and recover and get the old mojo flowing again.

Jed is a man of few words and fewer smiles. He’s been the man of the family since his father abandoned them, leaving Jed to raise his sister and be a rock for his mother, while having to run the family ranch. He used to use the rodeo as a way to make money, but it hasn’t been paying as well as in the past and Jed is having to look for new sources of revenue. One possibility is to sell some of the ranch … the only problem is that his father still has legal rights to the land.

When Buddy calls his son, asking if Jed would let Remy stay for a few weeks, Jed is reluctant to say yes. When he finally does, it’s with two conditions: The first, Buddy will actually show up and pretend to be a father and walk his daughter down the aisle for her wedding. The second, he’ll sign over his share of the ranch. Buddy agrees, only slightly offended that Jed thinks he wouldn’t show up on his daughter’s big day — even though he didn’t show up for her first wedding, Jed’s many rodeo wins or losses, or during any of the times his family actually needed him — and soon has Remy on his way.

Remy and Jed used to know one another. When they were younger, after Remy’s dad had died, Buddy brought his prize talent to the ranch for the summer. Remy fell head over heels in love with the older boy, though Jed claims he doesn’t remember Remy much at all. Remy expects to start off as friends; Jed wants to start off as nothing at all. Jed has no desire to cater to a spoiled rock star, even though he can’t take his eyes off of Remy, and Remy, unused to anyone saying no to him, can’t help but stare right back.

There’s a spark between them when they first meet, based not just on the physical attraction, but the shared pain and need they both have. Remi needs someone to adore him; he’s never not been loved — though calling what his fans feel for him ‘love’ is a little generous. Jed needs someone to see past the walls he’s built up to the man hiding behind them. When they do finally look one another in the eye, it’s an instant heat followed by an instant freeze as Remi’s good nature comes smack up against Jed’s insecurities. Remi tries too hard, and Jed wants to respond, but finds himself retreating, afraid of his own thoughts and desires for what he knows he can’t have.

When Jed finally gives in, it’s a sweet and perfect romance. Remi has had other lovers, but none of them treated him the way Jed does. Jed isn’t out to sleep with a rock star — in fact, he’d run from the rock star. He wants Remy, the “scared of horses” Remy, the Remy who hates Brussel sprouts. Remy finds in Jed someone who will protect him from the world, someone who doesn’t care if he never writes another song. Remy also finds, in Jed, someone he can take care of. Someone who needs him.

When Buddy returns, both for the wedding and for Remi, Jed realizes he has to let Remy go. After all, Remy was only his for a week or two, not his to keep.

While this is framed as an opposites attract story, with a country mouse and city mouse couple, both of these men are so very much alike in their pain and their insecurities that’s it’s almost more a story about two soul mates finding each other. Both Remy and Jed grew up feeling as though they had to clothe themselves in armor to protect their hearts — Jed chose stoicism, Remy chose a glittering smile — and both of them have father issues due to Buddy’s treatment of them.

Jed is so very lonely. He learned from an early age that he couldn’t trust Buddy, and his childhood was taken from him by his mother and sister’s dependency on him to be the man of the house. Due to an early love affair gone sour, Jed learned not to let people get too close because they’ll just end up leaving him like his father did, and letting them hurt him when they leave is his own fault. He’d rather rely on himself and his own abilities than have anyone let him down.

Remi has grown up on television, surrounded by a watchful audience of agents, directors, handlers, other actors, and fans. He learned early on that appearance was everything, and he took it to heart. He’s carefully cultivated an image of good-natured cheerfulness, even when his ex not only took pictures of him, but then dumped him on Twitter. With all of that, and Athens, he’s found himself stuck between panic attacks and nightmares, and the immense pressure to put out the next great song as quickly as possible to prevent this disaster from destroying his career and everything he’s worked for.

This was an adorable story and I enjoyed every part of Jed and Remy’s romance. However, one part that didn’t work for me was Jed not remembering Remy — and not caring who he was. Remy was the person Buddy left him for. Buddy abandoned his family to take care of Remy and Remy’s career, and I find it hard to believe Jed didn’t remember that. Buddy, himself, was a little too two-dimensional with no redeeming features whatsoever. While the focus was on the romance, I would have also liked some attention paid to the third person in their triangle: Jed’s father and Remy’s manager/father figure.

I listened to the audio book, narrated by Colin Darcy. He managed to keep a clear distance between Jed and Remy’s voices, and did a decent job with large parts of the book. However, whenever there was a big dramatic scene — such as the event in Athens, or when Jed was arguing with his father — he kept the same laconic voice. There was never any urgency, and even the sex scenes were rather tepid. Some of Darcy’s pronunciations weren’t quite the ones I was used to, and while that’s not a bad thing, it made certain words and phrases stand out to me in … interesting ways.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.