Seppe and Brooks were perfect together and they were completely in love. Except, Seppe couldn’t recognize that Brooks was everything he needed and when an opportunity came for him to teach overseas, Seppe walked away, breaking Brooks’ heart in the process.
It’s now three years later and Seppe has returned. Life didn’t go quite as he had planned when he was out of the country and he’s looking forward to settling back into his hometown. He regrets what happened with Brooks, but he didn’t expect the man to completely ice him out. Brooks has tried to move on and owns two successful restaurants in town, but his heart has never recovered from the damage Seppe did by walking away.
Seppe claims he wants Brooks back and the heat and chemistry between the men is still as hot as it always has been. But Brooks is sure he can never trust Seppe not to hurt him again and Seppe will have to prove to Brooks that he’s worth another chance.
Damage is the second book in the Love in the City series, but although we met Brooks briefly at the end of the first book, Deviate, this book can be read as a standalone. We catch up with Seppe and Brooks three years after their relationship ended and Seppe is just returning to town after being out of the country. Brooks knew he had found everything he wanted in Seppe and has never fully recovered from Seppe completely ending things and disappearing from his life. Brooks is successful in his career as a chef, but he has no interest in trying to have another relationship, tries to drown his sorrows in hookups, and his heart is barely pieced back together.
This part of their journey is a slow burn and keeps the second chance aspect in the forefront, so if those tropes appeal to you, this book has them. The chemistry between the men is super strong and Monroe can write chemistry and longing and jealousy really well. However, in the beginning, I couldn’t fully buy into Seppe’s remorse. He just left Brooks and it felt more to me that he was remorseful because things didn’t work out for him as planned. As Seppe starts to examine his behavior, a little of that eased off, but Seppe didn’t fully win me over. Brooks is a good guy and he was completely shattered by Seppe leaving, and while it takes a while for these guys to reconcile, Brooks not making it easy for Seppe was kept at a realistic pace.
There were a variety of minor characters that were introduced throughout the book and they didn’t all fit for me. Some seemed random, while we got more back story on others, but little of it went anywhere. The ending for Seppe and Brooks wraps up well for them and we see a glimpse into their future and I was settled into their story. However, the end of the epilogue then completely transitioned to a minor character and a grand gesture and to read the conclusion of that story, the author prompts readers to sign up for her newsletter to have access to a free short. For me, this detracted from Seppe and Brooks’ ending right when they should have been the focus. The name of this series also doesn’t fit this installment as the idea of this book is that the men do not live in the city, but a small town outside of it, and they do love their smaller town, so the reference to “love in the city” isn’t as strong as the name would suggest.
The book overall was a little uneven for me. I do like the chemistry the author creates and if you are looking for a second chance romance with characters that spark together, you might want to check this one out.