Alex Ellison is looking for attention. His wealthy father doesn’t pay much attention to him and, at the age of nineteen, Alex has been arrested once again. Although his father just sends someone to pick him up. This time is different though, and Alex is sentenced to community service on the other side of the country. Alex is not used to physical labor, nor is he familiar with any of the animals at the wildlife center he will be working at for the summer.
Things aren’t looking all bad, however, as seeing Noah in the office certainly perks Alex right up. For the first time, Alex feels that someone truly gets him and Alex finds himself falling hard and fast for Noah. But not everything is as it seems and, while Alex knows Noah is interested, Noah runs hot and cold. Noah’s mother is also extremely overprotective of Noah and it doesn’t take long for Alex to realize that Noah is keeping something a secret from him.
When Noah abruptly ends things, it’s years before the men see each other again. They both never forgot that one summer, but loving Noah comes with risks and not everyone will be happy for the men to finally be together forever.
Rare is told in two parts. The first being when Alex is nineteen and restless and aimless. He was raised by his father in NYC where he had everything he could ever need monetarily, but his father has never taken a true interest in Alex himself. Alex presents at first as the spoiled rich kid, but he really wants someone to love him and for someone to truly see him.
Noah grew up the opposite of Alex. He was raised by his mother in Oregon and hasn’t ever dated. Noah is also at the wildlife center voluntarily, as he wants to be a veterinarian. It doesn’t take long for the guys to bond over chores at the wildlife center and it also doesn’t take long for them to fall for each other. It’s easy to get caught up in the first love feelings Alex and Noah have for each other, but it’s also clear that Noah is keeping something from Alex and Alex is left heartbroken without answers.
The author keeps the tension high as to what Noah is hiding as the book moves into part two, which is ten years later. The second part didn’t match the tone of the first part for me. The secret Noah was keeping is interesting and is a subject that isn’t seen often in the genre, so that was a plus. But when Noah and Alex see each other again, they rely solely on their feelings from when they were teenagers. There is little relationship development as the men just go all in and I would have liked some more with them actually building a relationship.
We also don’t learn all that much about what Alex had been doing during those years and, once the secret is revealed, the story started to stall out for me. Noah’s mother is also a one-dimensional character and, given the circumstances, didn’t seem a source of much support for him. Also, the man that the guys worked for at the wildlife center was fairly visible in part one and then just vanished. The author also relies heavily on inner dialogue where one MC would be asked a question only for a lot of inner dialogue to follow before answering and it tended to break the flow of the narrative too often.
While I would have liked the two parts to have blended better, I did like the story that was being told here and seeing Alex and Noah recapture the feeling of the one summer that changed their lives.