Brenden and Dakota met in foster care as teens. Dakota had been taken in by his aunt and uncle when his addict mother proved incapable, while Brenden was essentially neglected by his father after his mother died. They found a challenging companion in one another—despite their rocky start as roommates. Over late night talks, Brenden and Dakota confessed their secrets and sexuality and vowed to protect one another. Brendan fell in love with Dakota way back when, but was cautioned against any physical contact by Dakota’s aunt—a woman who has become Brendan’s treasured surrogate mom in the intervening years. She insists they are “step-brothers” because of Dakota’s formal adoption and their informal adoption of Brenden into the family.
Now, however, more than a decade has passed since those tumultuous times and Brenden has fiercely, secretly, loved Dakota from right up close. What was meant to be a supportive familial connection—step-brotherhood—has become an unwelcome constraint for Brenden’s love. Meanwhile, Dakota, jaded about love and relationships with his mother’s bad examples, has decided he will never settle down. It’s not until he moves back in with Brenden, to save money for this huge comic-com they are organizing, that Dakota starts to see the passion Brenden harbors for him.
This is the third book in the Geek Life series and I have enjoyed reading them all. I think this one is truly best appreciated if read in order, though it can be enjoyed as a standalone. Brenden and Dakota are polar opposites, Brenden being a fussy neat-freak who treasures order, rules, and the ability to control his life through elaborate planning, while Dakota’s an impulsive free spirit who relishes his no-strings life and pushing Brenden’s buttons. Their deep connection has facilitated an adversarial friendship, in place of the sexual tension that has built unnoticed by Dakota. Once Dakota is clued in, he begins to see Brenden’s many passive-aggressive behaviors as actions to hide his true feelings—and it leads to a night of explosive sex that Dakota will not soon forget. But, is he capable of having more, and with his best friend/business partner?
I seriously loved how this one came together. Dakota’s whole-hearted reflections on his life with the objective to make Brenden his partner in all parts of his life were sassy and fun, like Dakota himself. He had to deliberately woo Brenden into a physical relationship, which Dakota never did before. He had to focus on what Brenden needed/wanted, which was a point of true growth for his character. I loved how Brenden was wooed by planning and responsible adult behavior, and how Dakota was fierce in expressing his love to his family—enlisting aid from his cousins to ensure his aunt and uncle knew the truth. Brenden fears that he’ll be rejected for this, but he’s grateful for the love he finds instead. It is Dakota that has the big changes to make, while Brenden feels he has too much to risk losing, yet their growing love makes it somewhat easier to take risks, knowing that they will have each other to fall back on, if needed.
It’s a funny happy ending that ensures Dakota will have his fussy lover by his side forever, a concept he had never imagined before. I enjoyed all the input from their family and friends, who are cool characters. There are many interactions with the MCs of the two previous books, as they all work together at the cons, and have some social ties as well. Dakota leans on these relationships to help him see that not everyone makes marriages into hot messes, like his mother. Expect a little bit of sexy times and a WHOLE LOT of comic references. as that’s the business interest Dakota and Brenden share.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.