Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 3.75 stars

Narrator: Michael Mola
Length: 6 hours, 20 minutes

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


Nathan is at that certain age where it’s no longer acceptable to be single in the eyes of his mother, his best friend, his neighbors, his co-workers, the paperboy, and every other busybody on the small island of Ceremony. The only problem is that Nate isn’t really interested in dating at the moment. Most of his past relationships haven’t worked out so well and, at nearly forty, he’s just tired of the dating game. In order to get his best friend, Max, and his mother off his back, Nate hits on what is most likely the most brilliant of ideas: He’s going to get himself a fake boyfriend. One so bad, so unpleasant, so horrible that everyone will want him to go back to being single.

Enter Flynn Delaney, the town pariah. On a small island, everyone knows everyone’s business. Only … no one knows Flynn’s. He left home when he was old enough, abandoning his father, and not bothering to return until after the funeral. Since no one knows the truth, they’ve decided to make up the most interesting gossip possible: he abandoned a wife and child; he’s on the run from the law; he used to be a male escort; he’s a thug, a bully, and everything in between. In short, he’s perfect.

The first problem is getting Flyn to agree to this ridiculous plan. The second problem … what happens when your perfect bad boyfriend just so happens to be simply your perfect boyfriend?

This is a perfect setup for opposites attract. Nate is a wedding planner at the Grandshire Hotel and a damned good one. Even when drunken mothers-in-law have ‘opinions,’ or a best man makes an inappropriate pass, Nate is there to put out fires, wipe away tears, and give every bride their happily ever after. It’s part of why some of his past relationships haven’t worked out. Nate is married to his phone and obsesses about weddings. He’s also used to getting his way, being in control, and knowing everything. He’s the one people run to for help; he’s not the one asking others for a shoulder to lean on.

Flynn knew coming back to Ceremony wasn’t a great idea, but it was all he had. He’s fodder for every bit of town gossip and ignores it — much to their irritation. He won’t confirm or deny anything; he just goes about his life, working as a mechanic at the shop his father left him and volunteering with the island’s rescue services. He lives his life in his made-over lighthouse (which Grandshire would love to get its hands on; it would be a wonderful wedding venue or even a honeymoon retreat) and lives behind his self-made walls.

Nate and Flynn both know the score. They’re not in this to really be dating; Flynn is supposed to be odious, unpleasant, and … well, a bad boyfriend. And in public, he is. But when they’re in the car, talking, or when Nate’s mom falls and needs help, Flynn is, well, he’s perfect. They have similar interests, they understand what it’s like to live in the microcosm of a small island as a gay man, and they’re both old enough to know that you don’t fall in love simply because of one great kiss. You fall in love because of all the things that happen before and after that kiss — and the one after it, and the one after that.

This is the perfect comfort food. It’s a charming romance with a lovely setting, whimsical side characters, and just enough of a plot to keep me interested. I love Moore’s books and her way of writing. This author always manages to infuse warmth and humanity to both the characters and the story, as well as humor. While it’s a little light on plot (and I found the twist at the end to be a tad expected), the characters of Nate and Flynn were adorable.

I was given the audiobook version to review, narrated by Michael Mola, and it’s the first time I’ve listened to his work. He manages to add enough warm and good humor to capture the spirit of Moore’s story and he did amazing work with the voices and accents for Nate, Flynn, and the women of Ceremony Island. However, there were some production issues that need to be mentioned: different sessions are patched noticeably together, at least two with different volumes and speeds, and more than once it sounded as if another person altogether had been brought in to read a missing word (as in a single word) spliced into a sentence. In the first third of the audio version, the pacing is very uneven with some sections being very rushed and no pauses between chapters. Even so, the narrator was charming and I would most definitely recommend him.

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

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