When Max Kaufman’s parents found out he was gay, they kicked him out as a teen. Instead of graduating high school, Max turned to drugs and prostitution as he lived on the streets. He managed to get out with some help and he broke his addiction and graduated from nursing school. It’s been ten years since Max has seen his family, but he has just moved back to the area to try and rebuild what has been lost. Max also has a new job working as a private nurse for Edward Marsh, the wealthy CEO of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies, and Max will soon learn exactly what is going on behind the scenes of the company.
Silas Marsh is the son of Edward Marsh, a rich and powerful man. He has been told he will inherit his father’s business and his place as CEO, but his father keeps moving the goal posts. Silas has suffered a lot at the hands of his homophobic father, including being sent to a “conversion camp” that nearly killed him. The damage runs so deep, but Silas still tries to be the perfect son as he uncovers some of the less than ethical business practices going on in the company. Silas has kept his feelings locked down for years, but Max gets in. Silas knows he doesn’t deserve someone as good as Max, and while it kills him to push Max away, family expectations are high. But being with Max feels more right than anything else in his life and Silas will have to choose whether he can finally stand up to his father or lose Max for all time.
This is my first book by Emma Scott and from what I can see, it is also her first M/M romance. The book has two good characters in Silas and Max. They both have gone through a lot of trauma and both carry a lot of emotional scars. Max has tried to move on with getting off the streets and finding a job. Silas never fully came home from the conversion therapy his father sent him to and a lot of damage, both physical and emotional, has been done to him. His emotions are locked down and he is still trying to be the son his father wants, including becoming engaged to his friend Faith, as his father demands that he is married to a woman before Silas can be named CEO of the large pharmaceutical that bears their family name.
There is a tremendous amount going on in this book—maybe too much for how it all played out. The highlight is definitely the attraction and tension between Silas and Max. Max has no intention of getting his heart ripped out and wants to stay focused on his recovery and Silas can be barely glance in Max’s direction as so many eyes are always on him. But circumstances have them seeing each other often and while the chemistry is an important part of their relationship, they each know they can be better and feel safer with the other in their life.
Woven into their relationship are a lot of threads that build the foundation for the story. With Max, he is trying to be welcomed back into the family that kicked him out. Max also has an older brother and sister that left him out on the streets and Max has to do all the effort. I understood the message the author was sending with Max needing to forgive to move on for himself, but I needed so much more effort from his family and the way that storyline played out with his parents and siblings never sat right with me. Max was also helped off the streets by a policeman and that story was glossed over completely. Silas has even more going on between his father, the shady business dealings he uncovers in the pharmaceutical company, his fiancée (in name only as she knows what’s going on and is in it for the money), watching over his brother who has Asperger’s, and dealing with PTSD from conversion therapy. Some of the intended impact of their past wasn’t there for me as so much of it we were told in small pieces and not shown. By the end, some things were tied up better than others, and I did need more from some areas, and the parent storyline, on both sides, never settled for me even by the end of the book.
There were great moments between Max and Silas as their relationship progressed. It’s not easy for them to get together or be together, but there are romantic gestures and a life changing love for both of them. While some of the plotlines didn’t all pull together for me, focusing on Max and Silas together was the area I liked best.