Kyle Tyson is an NBA star, he’s gay, and he’s now the guardian to his nephew after his sister passed away after a long bout with cancer. Kyle needs to reevaluate his life and he has to figure out how to raise his nephew, Mason, into the man Kyle’s sister would want him to be. Fortunately, even though his schedule means he can’t be home all the time, Kyle’s got a great support network in his closest friends.
Andy Connor is a beautiful man, but he has scars, inside and out, that cause him insecurity. He’s got a loving, wonderful family and a job as a kindergarten teacher at a prestigious New York elementary school. He loves his job and the kids, especially Mason, who has had a rough time after losing his mother. Andy can see Kyle is trying and doing his best, and his kind words shore Kyle up.
There’s an instant attraction that neither man will act on, for different reasons. But when they meet again at a party, the sparks are too much to contain. They begin dating, though it’s in secret. Kyle isn’t out because of his career, though his closest friends know, and it’s twice as hard being a gay black man. Andy is only partially out, with just his family and close friends knowing, because being a gay elementary teacher could be problematic. Both men find an ease in each other, and understand each other, so they begin to date.
But Kyle’s life is a tough one. He’s on the road for away games a lot of the time, and he’s got secrets in his past that threaten to tear down all his built. Not only did he have an abusive childhood, but his ex is making trouble and won’t stop until he gets what he wants. Andy is there for him through everything, and their love is a powerful thing for both men. They know that together they can get through anything.
I really wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. However, the author’s voice, the narrative, and the pacing didn’t work for me, and I found myself becoming less interested in the story as it went on.
Let me start with the things I liked. The author does a great job at characterization, not only of the MCs, but of the whole supporting cast. This works in the book’s favor, and in the fact that this is the first book of a series. The characters are compelling, and it definitely lends itself to whatever books come next. I particularly liked Kyle and his bluntly honest ways. He says what he means, and expects everyone around him to do the same. If they can’t, he doesn’t waste his time with them. Andy is an all around good guy with an amazing heart, and he was just as lovable. I really enjoyed the easy way they came together, the way they understood one another, and the way their love grew. The romance is believable and really nice.
But as for the rest of the book? Well, as I said, it didn’t really work for me. I had multiple issues and that really brought down the whole story for me. First off, I had problems with the dialogue. Both MCs spoke in paragraphs that didn’t exactly feel natural. I enjoyed Kyle’s flavor, and there was a definite sense of his upbringing and culture in a lot of his phrasing. But at other times, he spoke like an entirely different person and I had trouble reconciling the two. There were also big passages, usually in dialogue, of info dumping. These guys also shared a lot with each other, and it felt like it was too soon or too easy for what they were dealing with. And, at times, their conversations were overly flowery and incredibly sappy. So this pulled me out of the story.
The pacing was also off for me. There were weird time jumps without much to connect them. At one point, we were suddenly a year or so in the future with no warning. We were also missing chunks of time where we could have been watching the MCs fall in love, and instead we were fast forwarding to weeks later where they had presumably been interacting, but not only didn’t we get to see it, but it wasn’t very clear from the conversation that it had, indeed, been happening. I felt like things were missing, and couldn’t quite connect to everything going on. It felt, to me, as though the story was just out of reach.
Added to those issues, there was a lot going on in this book and a lot of it was pretty heavy. Talk of childhood abuse was the biggest thing for me. I didn’t feel the weight of it that it should have had. Considering what had happened to Kyle, and then how it was dealt with, I felt it was glossed over in parts when it should have been explored more deeply. There was also quite a bombshell dropped, but then never mentioned again. The storyline with Kyle’s ex was completely over the top, and just kept getting bigger and bigger, ending with a huge scene that felt forced and completely extreme. So none of this really worked for me, and pulled down my enjoyment even more.
I liked the characters. I liked the romance. But there just wasn’t enough of the romance to save this book for me. Too much else didn’t work for me to say I enjoyed the book, and sadly, it’s not one I would recommend.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.