Stuart’s birthday is going pretty much how he thought it would. His mother calls, not to wish him happy birthday, but to complain about his brother’s ex-girlfriend filing a restraining order against him. He finds out that his close friend and maybe-sort-of crush is getting engaged from a woman at the supermarket, and then his brother calls to ask for money. It’s just one more day of being unwanted, unneeded, and alone. When there’s a knock at the door, it turns out to be the best thing Stuart never could have expected.
Not only did his friends come with dinner and desert, they also brought along a plus one for Stuart: Sergei, the gorgeous Russian man he briefly met at a friend’s wedding who caught Stuart’s attention with his magnetic charm and bright smile, but who bailed before Stuart could find out if the man was interested. Happy Birthday to Stuart because Sergei is interested.
It doesn’t take much to fan the sparks of attraction between them, but not everyone is happy for Sergei and Stuart. Sergei’s sister, for one, used to being the center of her brother’s world — and not necessarily happy her brother is with another man — isn’t keen on sharing. And she plans on doing something about it.
Fearing the Dream is book two in the Everyone’s Mechanic series, but it’s not a direct sequel to the first book. Stuart just happens to be friends with Saul and Lee — and so is Sergei — and the two of them help Stuart and Sergei get their second chance. Having read this book without having read the first one, I can assure you that you can just jump in here.
Stuart is afraid. Afraid that his mother and stepfather are right, that he’s not worth their time. When his mother remarried, Stuart looked forward to a new father and brother, only to get nothing back but heartache. Bit by bit, he was eased out of the family and his mother said nothing, until he turned 18, and then she told him to get out. It had nothing to do with him benign gay, or them not having room, they just didn’t want him in the house. Ever since, it’s been a theme in Stuart’s head and his life of not being wanted, of not being enough, of not being who other people want him to be.
Sergei is all confidence and charisma. His birth father wanted nothing to do with the fifteen-year-old student he’d gotten pregnant and so she, in her wisdom, left Russia and found a new life for herself and her son in America. She also found a new husband and had more children, much to Sergei’s delight. He thrives on family, on love, on the noise and fuss and life of it all, and when he sees Stuart alone with no family to harass him or comfort him, Sergei is quick to bring him home to his mother.
These two have some honestly cute interactions:
“My beauty?” Sergei scoffed. “I am not beautiful.”
“You’re strong and confident and intelligent, all things I find beautiful.”
“Okay then, I will be beautiful for you.” Sergei shot him a wicked grin as he spoke.
The instant attraction here is built more on finding the person you click with than it is just on the bulge in their pants. Sergei sees someone he can cherish and care for, someone who wants him and needs him, and someone he can do for. It’s not that Stuart needs his money or his protection, but Stuart needs his touch, his laugh, and his friendship, as much as his love. For Stuart, Sergei is everything he wants in a dream lover, only he comes with burgers and a trip to the lake to watch the stars, and is someone who doesn’t make demands on him or his time. Sergei doesn’t judge Stuart or push him; he accepts him and he wants him.
I like Sergei and Stuart as a couple. They feel balanced and like they’re good for one another. However, for all the set up of Stuart’s abandonment issues and insecurities, they’re really only mentioned; Stuart cuts off toxic people with ease, he stands up for himself, and he falls in love. The plot, such as it is, feels more like an excuse to have Sergei realize how much he loves Stuart; but it feels like he already does. There’s not really any drama, any conflict, or any danger. It’s just two guys falling in love and having a happily ever after. And sometimes that’s everything you want.
The writing is bright and quick and the pacing is pretty fast. The story goes past weeks and months, pausing only for character moments, which helps keep it from feeling bland. However, other than one or two people, everyone is so gosh darn friendly and nice that it feels a little sanitized. I think if there’d been any tension, any uncertainty in their futures, I would have enjoyed this book more. As it is, it’s a cute, light, and fluffy story with a happily ever after and a well paired and well written couple. If that’s what you’re in the mood for, then you might want to give this book a try.