At 24, Ollie finds himself leaving grad school to care for his nephews. The boys’ parents (Ollie’s sister and her husband) were killed in a car accident, and they left Ollie as the official guardian in their wills. The boys’ conservative grandparents fought him for custody, arguing he was too young and didn’t have a place to settle…and don’t forget the lack of a lot of money. Thanks to this, Ollie is absolutely determined to be the best parent he can be to Rory and Luis. Along with that determination, he’s also hell bent on doing everything on his own. He refuses any and all offers to help. If Ollie had a catch phrase, it would be “I’m fine.”
Ollie meets grade school teacher, Joel, at the school. It’s the Welcome Back barbecue and they’re roped into cooking burgers on the grill while the children play and the parents mingle. Joel finds himself watching Ollie more than he’s comfortable with. Joel is bisexual, and he was married to a woman who not only didn’t want children, but she was disgusted when he came out to her as bi. Thanks to this, Joel has declared he’ll never fall in love again…it’s just too painful. However, there really isn’t a way he can deny his growing feelings for Ollie.
The two men spend a lot of time together volunteering at school events, and they grow closer. Soon, they’re falling hard for each other, and Joel is falling in love with the boys as well, but just as Ollie and Joel are finding their way as a couple, a secret from Ollie’s past and a misunderstanding leaves Joel devastated. Can Ollie and Joel find their way back to the happiness they were beginning to share? Or will Ollie’s past and Joel’s trust issues get in the way of their happily ever after?
I love, love, love single dad stories. They push all my buttons, so I jumped at the chance to read Twice Shy. I’m happy to say the book met my expectations, and it even surpassed them. Ollie and Joel were amazing on their own, but when they were together? It’s like a fireworks display on the Fourth of July. Ollie’s utter devotion to Rory and Luis was amazing. He sacrificed a lot to make sure they had everything they needed…especially love. These sacrifices, along with the need to prove himself, were taking their toll. I loved Joel’s gentle personality, as well as his desire for a family. I ached for him through every appointment with his therapist as he poured his heart out to her. When he begins to tell her about Ollie, I could feel his torment. The fear of falling in love and being hurt again is battling his growing attraction to (and feelings for) Ollie. When Joel decided to take a chance, I was so proud of him. He’d turned a corner and began to feel some confidence. Together, Ollie and Joel have an excellent chemistry. It began with their first meeting, and it just grew and grew. The author gave them personalities that makes them feel real. The dialogue flows well, and the conversations aren’t stilted or too formal. It’s quite simply two guys getting to know each other and falling in love.
It’s not all smooth sailing, of course. I don’t really want to give away too much, but since it’s important to the story overall, I’ll tell you Ollie shows more than a passing interest in local hotel owner, Luca Moretti. He’s got a very good reason, but a tremendous misunderstanding between Ollie and Joel thanks to this interest. Joel thinks Ollie wants Luca, and his trust issues take over, leading to fighting and heartbreak. Again, I want to mention Malcolm’s writing is so good, I cried along with Ollie and Joel. My heart pounded, and my stomach dropped. The thought that they might not make it left me sad and a little angry. Thankfully, since it is a romance, they get their HEA, and all was right with the world again.
The end of the story is as expected. However, that doesn’t mean it’s boring or tired. It was sweet and had a promise to it. I thought it was perfect for Ollie and Joel…and the boys. Now, this is book three of the New Milton series. I’ve not read the first two, but that seemed fine. I didn’t have any confusion over any characters and their relationships. It very much reads like a stand alone.
I cannot recommend Twice Shy enough. It was a lovely story that made me experience a lot of feelings. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up.