Grant Clark is convinced he’s messed up his life. When he walks in on his roommate, best friend, and teammate Darryn Kaneko with another man, Grant reacts badly. Because Grant is in love with Darryn, but didn’t realize that Darryn also liked men. And now he’s lost his chance. Darryn and his new boyfriend spend a lot of time together, and Grant feels as though he’s losing his best friend. The easiness Darryn and Grant had with each other is gone.
But before long, some red flags start to pop up, and Grant goes from being hurt and angry to really being worried about Darryn and his relationship. When he tries to talk to Darryn about the toxic behavior, Darryn shuts it down fast. Grant tries his best to be a friend, but it’s hard when Darryn won’t talk to him.
Things go from bad to worse and Darryn is injured. Grant once again tries to be there for Darryn, but Darryn isn’t ready. As he heals from both the physical and mental abuse, Grant and Darryn find their way back to each other and then into something more. But the ex isn’t done with Darryn, and Grant will continue to support Darryn any way he needs. Time and healing are what’s needed before these two can find their happily ever after.
It’s been a while since Shae Connor has released anything, and I was quick to pick up this newest release. But I finished this one with mixed feelings and there’s a lot to unpack here for a shorter novel. And quick mention here that there is on page abuse, though fairly mild, so be aware of that if it’s something that triggers you.
Told in first person present tense from Grant’s POV, it’s a testament to this author’s skill that I barely noticed the tense. First person present is not my favorite, but I was quickly absorbed in the story. Connor paints a world filled with college life and gymnastics, along with two young men who are finding themselves.
Grant, for his part, has never come out, mainly due to being an athlete in the south and fearing what might happen. Darryn is hurt by Grant’s seeming lack of trust, and even though Darryn admits he’s been falling for Grant, it’s that perceived lack of trust that has Darryn moving on. The MCs in particular are well drawn, and the host of secondary characters come to life as well. Connor has crafted a cast of well rounded and interesting characters that drive the narrative.
But I did have a couple of issue with this book. The first being that the romance between the MCs doesn’t come until the very end of the book. Now, given the story, that makes sense. But then the book ended after they’ve barely gotten together, and I felt like I was missing key elements of their developing relationship. This is, apparently, the first of a series and we may see these two guys again. But I still would have liked a bit more than just a few paragraphs given all they’ve gone through. Their chemistry is great, and it’s clear how the MCs click with one another, so it’s easy to see the trust they have and how well they fit together. But I’d have liked to see just a bit more after they’ve established themselves as together to really show how they are progressing.
My other issue with this book was the abuse, or rather, how it was handled. Grant, with the help of his sister and another friend, jumps to the conclusion that Darryn is being abused with just the tiniest of indication. I’m not saying this is wrong, and it’s a good point to look at the little things as indicators of bigger things within a relationship. Even knowing that’s what the book is about, though, it seemed like a stretch at first for me and I would have liked to be shown something more solid that would lead Grant to not only thinking of Darryn’s welfare in this regard, but then paying attention to the goings on of Darryn’s relationship. And the other thing that caught my attention and niggled was that in the aftermath, Darryn is physically recovering with physical therapy, but he doesn’t mention or seem to go to therapy for his mental state. Because of that, I couldn’t quite trust his turn around and his readiness to start something new with Grant. Even a conversation about Darryn’s thought process and how he’s working through things on his own would have gone a long way here for me. Instead, we get a few mentions of Darryn saying he’s going to be okay and that was about it.
So, as much as I enjoyed aspects of this book, I felt a few plot points were glossed over and missing. Grant and Darryn deserve their happily ever after, but I wished we’d gotten to see more of it. There’s a lot to like here though, as Grant experiences new things, comes out, and comes into his own. The characters are well drawn and engaging. I’d cautiously recommend this book to anyone looking for a new adult tale.