Vince Amato is headed to New Hope, Pennsylvania with the express purpose of flipping The Hideaway Inn, which he bought sight unseen at auction, into a profitable business so that he can sell it to a management company and head back to the life he’s built in New York City. He only intends to stay the summer, and he wants nothing more than to turn a profit and go home. The last thing Vince expects when he steps off the bus and into a mud puddle is to come face to face with Tack O’Leary.
Tack has grown up, but Vince can’t forget the way Tack treated him in high school. After one summer of friendship, Tack stood idly by while Vince was tormented in school. Vince has a huge chip on his shoulder, and he’s done everything possible to change himself from the loner geek into a man of power. When they meet again, Vince and Tack get off on the wrong foot, but when the chef at the Hideaway Inn quits, Vince needs Tack’s help.
Tack is no longer the person he was in high school and, in the intervening fifteen years, he’s accepted himself and his bisexuality, and is doing everything he can to raise his child right. He wanted Vince back in high school, but he had a part to play and played it well. Now, Tack has a chance to reconnect with Vince, if Vince will just let down his walls and let Tack in. But communication isn’t their strong suit, especially when Vince’s original intention for the inn comes out. They’re going to have to be open and honest with each other if they ever expect to get their happily ever after.
This book is part of the new Carina Adores line, and it certainly lives up to the tropey romance the line promises. I had some definite issues with the story as a whole, but going in I expected some of the formulaic plot progression and there’s a definite comfort in that.
While the story is told largely through Vince’s first person POV, there are some chapters in Tack’s POV as well. I would have liked to see a better balance between the two, as it was mostly Vince, and I felt like Tack got lost a little throughout the story. Which is a shame, especially because Tack was the far more likeable character. Vince is, unfortunately, rather unlikeable through most of this book. I wanted to be sympathetic toward him, as his life was not easy growing up due to bullying and homophobia. He perceives his self-worth as now being a “manly man,” but Vince takes it to an extreme. I mentioned he had a chip on his shoulder, and it was rather large. He’s hostile a lot of the time, he doesn’t communicate well, and he doesn’t see people’s actions for what they are. Over time, he softens a little, but I still spent most of the book thinking he was basically a jerk and wished he’d use that big brain of his to actually think.
Tack is a much more endearing and sympathetic character. Yes, he was in the wrong in high school by not stepping in and stopping the bullying Vince was subject too. But it was easy to understand why, and that he had an image he thought he had to uphold. He’s experienced far more growth of character in the fifteen years since high school, and he’s doing everything he can to make the most of his life, as well as raising his child with his ex-wife. I really loved his big heart and his understanding nature. To be quite honest, I would have liked this book more had it been told from Tack’s POV instead.
But these guys do have chemistry and the sexual tension is strong. Eventually, they do start communicating when they get together and Vince is able to let go some of his anger. Vince softens some, changes his mind about what he wants to do with the inn, and together they start moving toward a real relationship. I would have liked for this to happen a little earlier in the story, so we could have really settled into their burgeoning love before the Big Misunderstanding happens. It’s clear to the reader that it’s coming, and exactly what it will be, but I wasn’t mad about that, considering that’s exactly what this book is supposed to do. I would have liked for them to talk rather than for Vince to run, but Tack’s gesture is super sweet and really lovely and meaningful, so I could understand why it happened.
In the end, they get their happily ever after and start building a life. But I will say that I had mixed feelings about this book. As much as the story itself appealed, Vince made it hard for me to really get into the book and find it completely enjoyable.