Eli knows he’s in a rut, but it’s a comfortable, safe rut and that’s what he needs. After everything he’s been through in his life, he needs the consistency. And if Eli’s anxiety makes him socially awkward and if he’s only got one real friend—and it’s because she didn’t let him drive her away—that’s fine. He loves his job at the ad agency, and he’s doing fine. Until Bryan walks through the door as the firm’s new client.
Ten years ago, Bryan met Eli, and though he’s never forgotten the intriguing man, he certainly never expected to see him again. He wants to get to know Eli again, and after a rocky start, the two become friends, as well as Eli running the ad campaign for Bryan’s new bakery.
Eli finds something in Bryan he didn’t think he needed. Even though his anxiety keeps him constantly wondering if Bryan will walk away because he’s too much, he values their friendship more than he can say. But as they become closer, Eli’s feelings start to change and he can’t understand why. What he doesn’t know, what Bryan has been keeping from him, is that Bryan is just as in love with Eli as Eli is with him. With a true heart to heart and some real soul searching, the two may find their way to a real, solid happily ever after.
Okay, so first off, I picked up this book for two major reasons. The first was the Queen reference in the title of the book and the series title, because I’m a huge Queen fan. But the second was because my impression of the blurb left me thinking I was getting a reunion romance. While this wasn’t exactly the case, the book, on the whole, worked.
I have to say that I really appreciated Eli and the way he was written. We got some excellently done representation in several areas that are usually overlooked or dismissed. Not only is he bi, though it takes him a while to figure it out, he’s also demisexual. Though Eli hadn’t ever heard the term before, I thought the author did an exceptional job showing Eli’s progression in a natural way, and did a fantastic job of showing his feelings changing over time. This spoke to me on several levels. On top of that, Eli has severe anxiety and is an introvert. As someone who is both, I’m often overly critical of the way these characters are portrayed. But Franklin’s portrayal of Eli is true to my own experiences with both anxiety and being an introvert. So I really loved seeing Eli grow and change throughout the story and come to accept himself.
Bryan is an altogether different character, but he has such a huge and understanding heart. He’s really the perfect guy for Eli, and I absolutely adored the way he loved Eli. The way he never pushed, but was completely there for him, even when he thought he could only have Eli as a friend. This romance is definitely a slow burn in all the best ways, and I thought the pacing for the romance was well done.
But this book was not without problems for me. First off, as I mentioned, I thought from the blurb I was getting something different than what was in the pages. Going back now that I know the story, I can see the subtle difference and choice of words. Still, I have to admit to disappointment early on as I realized this story was something different. Yes, they met ten years ago, but it was a short meeting and the circumstances around it are problematic, at least for Eli. And then there was the narrative.
As much as I enjoyed the story, I can’t ignore that there were large parts of the narrative choices that just didn’t work for me. Namely, there was a whole lot of telling going on, coupled with time jumps that seemed too vague. As for the telling, I had particular trouble with it because it often came at the beginning or end of dialogue passages. Instead of actually showing us what the characters were saying and doing, the dialogue would simply end and there’d be a paragraph or two telling us what else they said. This didn’t work for me on several levels, but the biggest being that it was jarring and pulled me out of the story every time. And since it happened frequently, it brought down my enjoyment quite a bit.
I liked that the book was told in alternating first person, as it really gave us a great idea of what each character was going through. But there were prime missed opportunities to really delve into certain thoughts and feelings, and instead we got seemingly abrupt endings that were then followed by times jumps. Because I enjoyed the characters so much, this style was a bit of a disappointment for me.
All in all, I loved the MCs and their romance, and thought both were well done. But there was something lacking in the execution that kept me from really falling in love with this book. That being said, I’d still like to see what else the author has in store for this series, and would be willing to explore more in the world. This one is a cautious recommendation, if my personal issues with the book don’t bother you.