Braxton knows exactly how he wants his life to go. He has completed a degree in finance, a career he knows has stability and good earning potential. He is headed to LA to start a new job, and to ultimately find a husband, buy a house, and raise kids. It will be a stable life full of responsible choices, and it will be a big improvement over the uncertainty and upheaval of his childhood. So as Braxton prepares for his cross country move, the last thing he wants or needs is to be saddled with his long ago (and very short term) step-brother, Craig, who is also headed to LA. Craig is planning to road trip, and before he quite knows how it happened, Braxton is being dragged along with him.
Craig and Braxton were step-brothers for a hot minute back when they were 14, when Brax’s mother’s revolving door of men included a brief marriage to Craig’s more steady and pragmatic father. As teens, Braxton definitely had a crush on Craig as he began to realize his own interest in other boys. And that attraction hasn’t waned, as Craig has grown into a gorgeous, jock of a man. But the men are also nothing alike, and Braxton knows there is no way he wants a guy like Craig (despite the fact that Braxton can’t help but feel a bit jealous at how easy things seem to be for Craig). Braxton needs stability, financial responsibility, and steadiness; Craig is a guy who lives life out loud, but also has no direction, no sense of managing money, and no idea of where he is going in life.
To Brax’s surprise, the trip doesn’t turn out to be quite the nightmare he expected. Yes, Craig wants to stop at every random place that catches his fancy, and no, he has no sense of managing their limited funds, but Braxton can admit that traveling with Craig is fun. Craig gets him to step out of his comfort zone, to see things he never would have seen and to try things he never would have tried. The two spend long days driving and visiting interesting places, and nights camping in their tiny tent. Not only does Brax enjoy Craig’s company, but he also finds his attraction to the man is growing. Braxton had always thought Craig was straight, but when Craig admits he thinks he is actually bisexual, and that he is interested in Braxton, Brax decides to take a leap. The men begin to enjoy a hot and steamy relationship where Braxton can help Craig learn all the fun two men can have.
However, their road trip is coming to a fast close, as Braxton has a job and an apartment waiting for him. Things seem so good with Craig, but Braxton can’t figure out how the two could ever actually work in the long term. Now Braxton and Craig have to figure out if there is a way they can work together with all their differences and find a way to turn their road trip romance into something lasting.
I picked this one up for Self Published Book Week in our 2020 Reading Challenge Month as I am a huge fan of Tanya Chris’ writing. Chris has skill at writing so many different styles and genres, and I have enjoyed so much of her work. Not to mention I am a huge road trip story fan, and throw in former stepbrothers and a big opposites attract element and I was all there. I will admit, something about this book gave me a little pause before I read it. I am not quite sure why, maybe the unusual title? But I have to say that the story has a lot of fun and playfulness, along with Chris’ trademark solid writing with great character development, a really engaging story, and a real richness that made this a book I just couldn’t put down. If I had had the time to read it straight through, I would have easily read this one cover to cover.
The conflict in the story really comes from the clash between what Braxton sees as his vision for the future, and the fact that Craig meets none of those ideals. Or at least, Brax doesn’t think he does — there is a lot more to Craig than meets the eye. As Braxton was growing up, his mother was in an out of relationships, getting quickly bored and moving on. She didn’t manage her money and they went through good times and lean times and it all left Braxton feeling an intense lack of stability. So all he wants is something solid — a good job, a steady partner, and a plan for how he will get there. Craig is much more like Braxton’s mother in temperament. He has finished college, but has no idea what he wants to do with his life. He is guided by the latest thing that catches his eye and he doesn’t think much about what the fallout from those choices might be. But he also has a joy for life, a sense of immersing himself in every experience and truly living. He gets Braxton to take a step out of his comfort zone and to live a little less rigidly, something Braxton really needs. Craig is also incredibly kind, genuinely interested in people and the world around him, smarter than he seems, and more vulnerable than he likes to project. Chris does such a wonderful job with these guys, really giving us a good understanding of what has shaped their personalities, but also showing how much more there is to both Brax and Craig than it might seem at first.
I really enjoyed the tone of the story here, told through Braxton’s POV. He is such an interesting character, on one hand confident in the life he has laid out for himself and proud that he is taking the first steps in his plan, but also uncertain of himself and his worth, wondering what a gorgeous guy like Craig sees in him. As with Craig, there is a vulnerability to Braxton that lies under that surface appearance that really gives his character nuance. He also has a great dry wit, particularly in his own thoughts, and sort of a self-deprecating internal commentary that often made me laugh. Here is a scene where the guys are in bed together:
“Fuck, Brax. Do you know how hot you look right now?”
Do I? I don’t. I’m having a hard time thinking. I’m certain not posing. I hardly feel like I’m participating. I’m supposed to be the experienced one, but he’s grinding into me like he knows exactly how dicks fit together.
One of my favorite aspects of a road trip story, aside from the fun of forced proximity (and only one bed!), is getting to follow along with the characters as they have a travel adventure. Chris really makes the most of this set up with wonderful detail that really brings the trip to life. The guys stop at various places along the way, some random, quirky locations and others majestic sights, and Chris made me feel like I was right there with them. There is also a list of all their stops with links to the various landmarks at the end of the book, so it’s a great way to find out more about the places the guys visit.
So this was a really fun story and I was totally engaged with Brax and Craig’s adventure. The character development was wonderful, and even being solely in Brax’s POV, I really felt like I got to know both men and loved seeing their relationship develop and their internal growth. I definitely enjoyed this one and can highly recommend it.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for Self Published Book Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of ten HUGE prize bundles donated by some fabulous self published authors (you can see the full prize list here)! Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by NineStar Press: a Kindle Paperwhite loaded with 50 NineStar Press books! You can get more information on our Challenge Month here (including all the contest rules) and more details on Self Published Book Week here.