Sebastian grew up wealthy and entitled and unprepared for the world, until his father kicked him out. Now Sebastian lives on the streets and is doing all he can to get by. The past few months have taught him a lot about himself, however, including that he can do more than he once thought. Still, Sebastian wants to prove to his father that he can make it on his own and isn’t as useless as his family seems to think.
Louis is on the way to deliver some food to a shelter when he accidentally bumps into a quite prickly Sebastian. Louis spends a lot of time volunteering with the homeless and community service is a passion he shared with his late wife. Louis’ first instinct, after apologizing for the mishap, is to invite Sebastian to his home for a meal. Sebastian refuses, but later the men meet again at the shelter, and when one of the workers vouches for Louis, Sebastian agrees to go home with him for dinner. A storm is coming and even a little time off the streets would be welcome.
The men find themselves hitting it off almost right away. Louis is a natural caretaker and loves being able to offer Sebastian a little comfort. For his part, Sebastian appreciates that Louis seems to really see him, to look at him as a person and not an object of pity. Louis also listens as Sebastian shares his thoughts on some of the things the homeless in D.C. really need, and truly wants to help. The one night together turns into more, and as the men spend more time together, it seems like there could be a real connection. For the first time since the death of his wife, Louis feels like he can imagine a life with someone again, and Louis would love nothing more than to have Sebastian stay with him for good. But Sebastian still has a determination to make it alone, and when someone from his past comes back into his life, it makes him once again question his own strength. Now, Sebastian has to decide if he is willing to accept some help and recognize his own strength and, if so, he may find his future is already bright.
I absolutely loved Sebastian and Louis together in Socks for an Otter. There is a sweetness to them, as well as a lot of heat and sexiness. They are both lovely men and it is hard not to root for them together immediately. Louis is so caring and dotes on Sebastian, wanting to give him every comfort and luxury. And Sebastian revels in not only Louis’ indulgence, but also that Louis treats him as an equal. There is a bit of fantasy feel to this story that I liked, a sort of dreamy quality that really fits the tone. I will say there is a bit of suspension of disbelief required here that Louis would ask a random stranger off the street to come to his house for dinner. Not to mention that Sebastian is willing to go. Or that the men are so quickly comfortable with one another. But if you can go with that aspect of the plot, it is a really rewarding book.
Roberts walks the line nicely with this story in that things are never over-the-top dramatic or treacly. This isn’t a “homeless man saved” type of story. We can feel for Sebastian, but also see that he is a strong man who just wants to be treated with respect and dignity. He doesn’t want Louis’ (or anyone else’s) pity. He wants to find his way and for people to treat him as worthy. Sebastian has nice growth here, moving from a man who is fighting the invisible demons of his absent father to a man who is fighting for himself and his future. So I think this aspect of the story is really well done.
My only real niggle here is that I feel like the issues with Sebastian’s dad are not made clear enough given how large a role they play in the story, not only in putting Sebastian on the streets in the first place, but also in the internal demons he is fighting. It was never totally clear to me how Sebastian ended up getting kicked out or why (at one point, it sounds like because his father caught him having sex with several men at once; at another point, it is attributed to his dad wanting Sebastian to learn to be self reliant). We never really learn the details of what happened between them or how Sebastian has no access to his own money (he is 23, so presumably would have at least a basic bank account in his own name). Again, this is such a key part of the story and I kept waiting for it to be developed more thoroughly and it never really is.
Overall, I really loved this book and it gave me all the warm feels that I wanted. Louis and Sebastian are sweet and sexy together and the story has a really nice message without being saccharin. I am so glad I picked up this story and can definitely recommend it.