say you'll be nine coverRating: 4.5 stars
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Length: Novel

Nine Winshed is the ninth of ten children and his role has always been the easy going son who is willing to pitch in to help anyone. He lives in a small town in Wyoming near his parent’s farm, working at a hardware shop. Nine always puts everyone else first, but the one thing he does just for him is his DIY YouTube channel where he teaches people to do their own home improvement projects. Nine doesn’t pay much attention to his numbers, he just likes helping people and sharing his skills and passion.

Nine gets an unexpected call from Stallion Tools, a company looking for someone LGBT to sponsor in an online cabin renovation project. Nine doesn’t fit the bill, but he knows his brother Eli’s best friend, Cooper Heath, is gay and figures Cooper might know someone. But Cooper is dealing with a family crisis as his twin brother is ill and in need of a bone marrow transplant. The family is struggling for funds and Eli suggests that Nine and Cooper might team up. If they pretend to be boyfriends, Nine can get the show and Cooper can get the much needed money, plus possibly some exposure for his struggling acting career. Nine doesn’t love the idea of deceiving people, but he also can’t bear not to help Cooper get the money he needs, so he agrees.

Nine and Cooper head off together to a remote mountain clearing where they are renovating a ramshackle cabin. The men will work together and pretend to be a couple, filming the renovation, as well as videos of themselves happily together, plus a lot of social media postings to promote the project. Nine and Cooper have always had a sort of prickly relationship, with Nine finding Cooper to be an annoying know-it-all and Cooper finding Nine equally irritating. But the men realize as they spend time together that they are really enjoying each other’s company. And while at first it seems that Nine is just faking his interest in Cooper for the cameras, soon it becomes clear that he actually is into Cooper for real.

The men are finding their experience to be idyllic, holed up away from the world and enjoying a cozy love nest together. But the real world has a way of intruding. Nine is totally into Cooper, but his family is having a hard time accepting that he is interested in a man for the first time. Cooper has a job opportunity that may be too good to pass up, not to mention he is still worried about his brother’s health. And Nine, as always, is willing to do whatever it takes to help Cooper live his dream and get exactly what he needs out of life. But after falling for Nine, Cooper may realize that what he wants may actually be right there in front of him.

Oh, this is such a fun, swoony story! This book is very classic Lucy Lennox — sweet, romantic, and sexy, with a nice bit of playfulness. While the story sets these guys up as at odds with one another, in reality, they connect almost right away and start to fall pretty fast for each other. I appreciated the easy way Nine comes to accept his feelings for Cooper. He has never really had much interest in sex, nor thought of himself as anything other than straight. But he easily moves forward with Cooper, happy with their connection and not worrying too much about labeling things. I loved these guys together. Nine is this tall, hairy lumberjack, all sexy and hulking, but also a gentle giant. Cooper pretty much wants to climb him like a tree from the start. I loved the way that Cooper draws Nine out, gets him talking and interacting and less reserved. At the same time, these two just accept one another and they have a great connection I just loved.

While this isn’t a road trip story, it has a similar feel as the men are alone at the cabin for a good deal of the book and that adds an intensity to their connection. It creates a romantic (and probably idealized) getaway where the two men spend pretty much every moment together and find that connection away from the world. Of course, it brings conflict too when the real world intrudes, but it makes for a lovely story.

I will say that I feel like Cooper isn’t quite as well fleshed out as Nine, or at least, it comes fairly late in the book. I had less of a sense of him for most of the story, while Nine felt more front and center. Also, the story presents Cooper as “a total know-it-all with opinions for days” and the two men are supposed to not really get along, and yet we don’t see that much at all. None of the things that we are told irritate the men about one another ever really come across on page and they seem to very easily fall into a friendship and then love. So if this is going to be part of the set up, I wanted to actually see it play out. And finally, I’ll admit the story set up here was a little rocky for me. Stallion Tools is looking to sponsor an LGBTQ DIY-er and Nine takes the job even though he doesn’t identify that way and is pretending to be gay. Yes, he ends up getting into a relationship with Cooper, and yes, Cooper is actually gay (though not really doing the DIY end of things). But I didn’t love the idea that Nine is taking the spot of a legitimate LGBTQ community member who was supposed to be getting this whole sponsorship deal. But in the end, you just need to go with it, particularly since the only reason Nine agrees is so he can help Cooper financially.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I was completely caught in up Nine and Cooper’s cozy cabin adventure. I loved the men together and found this one fun, romantic, and sexy. Definitely check it out.

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