Tate Astbury is a 33-year-old stunt performer in movies. He’s gay, and out, and he’s still struggling with the loss of his twin brother nearly a decade ago. While visiting his father and some friends in Boston during Thanksgiving week—also the week of Tate and his twin Mazi’s birthday—Tate gets dared into calling a radio station to see if he’ll be a “Holi-Date” for a caller. Tate goes for it, since he’s a little melancholy that all his friends have found their forever man, and he’s the fifth wheel. And, it’s not long before he’s chosen to be Endre’s date for Thanksgiving.
Endre Michel is a 29-year-old yoga instructor. He’s also a college drop-out and a recovering opioid addict, stemming from a car wreck that nearly killed him when he was only 19. He lives with his dear friend, Jackson, who was his college roomie and who helped get Endre back on his feet following the wreck and later the addiction. Together, they own and run a boutique yoga studio, and Endre makes a vlog that deals with yoga, his own depression, and the struggles he faces regarding his emotional balance and his addiction. Endre doesn’t really want a boyfriend, but his mom and some friends had been haranguing him to go on dates and he finally told everyone he has a boyfriend who travels a lot for work in order to stave off their constant matchmaking. With Thanksgiving approaching, Endre’s mom is flying out to spend some time and meet the boyfriend…that Endre doesn’t have.
Endre’s call to the radio station is a bit of a lark, but he’s not sad to meet Tate in person. In fact, both Tate and Endre are immediately attracted to one another. Then, Jackson lowers a huge bombshell that has Endre reeling regarding their friendship and a future for their business. It’s a lot to take, and Tate is compassionate enough to help temporarily shoulder the emotional burdens. He’s amazed at how well Endre copes with his addiction and depression, having had first-hand experience of loved ones who failed spectacularly at managing their personal issues.
The heat between Endre and Tate is fierce, and they have lots of moments of deep connection. They both believe this is only a Thanksgiving set up, especially since Tate is only visiting Boston, but there’s such a deep attraction and chemistry they both leave the door open for potential visits at Christmas time. And, absence in this case does make the hearts grow fonder. While Endre is dealing with his business situation and problems with Jackson, he’s also listening to Tate who encourages him to branch out. It’s a new experience for Endre, to have successful people look at him and see him as capable, not fragile or an addict one step from falling off the wagon. It’s empowering, and gives Endre the strength to chart a new and unexpected course of his career. I loved the mutual support these guys give each other.
The “dark and painful truth” from the blurb was a coincidence I really feel the book could have done without. For me, the emotional value was minimal and, as the foreshadowing fully exposed it from the start, I couldn’t fathom it was an unexpected twist for other readers. It was just another plot device to overcome, and the reveal was lackluster. I was much more invested in the Thanksgiving meal with mom than this plot line, so I was glad we had a good bit of effort in the prep and experience for the date. Mom was less than genial, and I liked how both Endre and Tate had to make things clear, establishing adult boundaries and promoting the growth of both Endre’s character, as well as their budding relationship.
This is a good read, and the side characters who enter all seemed interesting and like people I’d want to know, except for Jackson and Endre’s mom. In the end, Tate and Endre begin anew, building a life together that is far more adventurous than a radio blind date.
Note: This is the third book in the Shore Thing series, but I was able to enjoy it as a standalone.