Luis Rivera left Painter’s Ridge when he was a teenager, and with it Tucker Ryland. Even though Luis and Tucker had big plans to be together once Tucker could follow, it didn’t work out, leaving both young men broken hearted. Twenty years later, Luis has moved on, but when he’s sent back to Oregon to help with an arson investigation, Luis’ old feelings resurface. Especially the hurt. But he’s determined to be professional.
Tucker hasn’t forgotten the boy who stole his heart, but it’s a shock to see Luis again. They’ve both grown and changed, and they don’t really know each other anymore. But Tucker wants nothing more than to discuss what happened all those years ago, and to be able to move forward. It’s clear the two men still have a connection. And for Tucker, who is demisexual, that’s particularly important.
But Luis’ time in Oregon is temporary, as he’s just on loan from California. Luis and Tucker go into things knowing it will end. But Luis fits seamlessly into Tucker’s life, and the men are so good together. Luis also gets along with Tucker’s 17-year-old twins, as well as his ex-wife and her family. As the investigation comes to a close and the fires in California rage, they know Luis’ time is growing even shorter. But neither Luis nor Tucker can accept that they got a second chance at love only to let it go. It’ll take some compromise, but if they can work it out, they’ll have a love to last a life time.
Join me for the third installment of Annabeth Albert’s Hotshots series. And this one might be my favorite of the series so far. Both Luis and Tucker are holding on to old hurts, but not too tightly. Twenty years have given them both perspective, and this time, they find their forever.
I really liked both MCs’ introductions, and the visceral way they reacted to seeing each other again. It’s clear that though they’ve both had good lives in the intervening decades, their connection as teenagers was strong. But they were both so young, and even though they tried long distance, it didn’t work out. There were reasons for that on both sides, and their initial meeting is a fraught with tension. But they quickly move past that, having the important conversation that allows them to move forward into a friendship and then into more.
What follows is somewhat of a slow burn, but the sexual tension between them stays high. Albert does a great job of keeping it simmering just below the surface, even as they navigate their feelings. These guys talk a lot, which I very much appreciated, and they’re able to move on from their past quickly and believably. I particularly liked how Tucker was open about his sexuality, and what being demisexual means for him. This, in particular, shone in the story. The author showcases how, for this character, the connection allows him to feel sexual attraction. But more than that, just how much that connection, that closeness, means to him. Because of their history, it grows much more quickly between them, and Tucker is able to make it all make sense for himself. I loved these guys, their chemistry and connection, and the way they actually talked to one another.
Even when they got to the point that they had to walk away from each other, it didn’t last long. Their black moment wasn’t even that black, as they communicated with each other well, even though it hurt. I was glad it didn’t take them long to realize they’d made the wrong choice, and then to work out a solution that worked for them both. It was particularly satisfying for them to finally get their HEA, especially after their rocky start as teenagers.
All in all, I really enjoyed Luis and Tucker and watching them fall in love all over again. The maturity and conversation between them went a long way to elevating this story for me. These guys work, and communication is key between them. I love seeing how far they’ve come, and it’s easy to believe they’ve gotten the HEA they deserve.