Stone has had a rocky road in life, but by keeping his head down and his nose to the grindstone, he’s managed to find a place for himself at Blade Tattoo where he works as an apprentice. He’s a good artist and he likes the people he works with, particularly his boss, Caesar, who is an amazing artist and tattooer. If only it weren’t for Jeremiah, Caesar’s nephew. The guy’s a bully of the first order and Stone is his favorite target. Today, though, something about Jeremiah just gets under Stone’s skin, and when Jeremiah, riding his usual bigotry, asks if Stone is gay and has a boyfriend, Stone says yes, yes he does.
If only that were the end of it. Jeremiah doesn’t really care who Stone is fucking, he just wants to needle him, and Stone only said yes to piss him off, but Caesar tells Stone to bring his boyfriend along to the tattoo convention later that month where Caesar is going to be given an award. After all, if everyone else gets to bring their partners and significant others, why not Stone?
Now Stone needs to convince the cute guy with blue hair he met at the park to pretend to be his boyfriend for a day, but Matty only says thanks, but no thanks. With only a little begging and bit of bribery, Matty finally gives in, but with one condition. Not one date, but two. One for Stone ,so he can put Jeremiah’s nose out of joint, and one for Matty, so he can maybe get his ex-boyfriend and current best friend to look at him one more time, especially since he’ll be on the arm of a tattooed hunk. And nothing’s more attractive than something out of reach.
This is a fairly standard fake lovers to real ones story, but it’s cute and sincere and honest and I kind of love it. It helps that Matty, who could have been too ‘charming’ or too bratty, is such an honest sweetheart who isn’t really out to make his best friend jealous. While he wants Milo back, he also knows that it’s probably not going to happen. He wants to be over Milo, wants Milo to see him moving on, and it doesn’t help that Stone is handsome, funny, friendly, and frankly, just a nice guy to hang out with. Matty is quick to warm up to people — so long as it’s one on one and not a giant crowd, which ratchets up his anxiety — and Stone responds to the honest interest and friendship Matty offers.
Stone’s mother abandoned him and he was raised by his grandmother until she died while he was in high school. He was also expelled from high school for fighting with a teacher who had groped a student, but no one cared why he did it, only that he was removed. Ever since then, he’s had issues with police, and issues with being taken advantage of, used, and judged for his looks and his cautious nature. He’s insecure about his self-worth, always more willing to back down from a fight than willing to fight for himself, but Matty — as he proves in typical dramatic fashion — is one of the few people in Stone’s life willing to fight for him.
The natural, easy progression of fake boyfriends, to real friends, to something more makes this a pleasant read. Everything feels genuine and real, and when they come together for the first kiss, it’s not because Stone is trying to make Jeremiah angry, he’s doing it because he wants to kiss Matty. And when they finally end up taking their relationship further, there’s as much playfulness and open communication as flirtation, and it ends up being almost equal parts sweet and steamy.
Matty gets along with Stone’s work friends by dint of being a likable person, and Stone gets along with Matty’s friends — even Milo, the ex — because they see how happy he makes Matty. Even though he’s slow to warm up to them, they’re wiling to give him the time he needs to be comfortable. This is not a book built on angst and jealousy, it’s a story about love and friendship and being there for the people you love — and letting them be there for you.
Once scene I really enjoyed is between Matty and Milo as they discuss Matty’s relationship with Stone. Milo, who knows Matty, urges him to be careful — not because Stone has a checkered past, but because he doesn’t want Matty to overreact to a stressful situation and ruin his chance to be with someone he obviously cares about and who obviously cares about him. I enjoy the ex-turned-friend aspect of Milo and Matty’s relationship because they are friends. Milo knows Matty, the good and the bad, and is happy to see him happy.
This is a perfect love story for a stressful weekend. For me, it hit all the right notes and I read it in one sitting. I highly recommend this book, and hope you get the chance to enjoy it.