Oliver Stoll wakes up to his apartment building on fire. He manages to throw on some clothes and grab his laptop, but leaves behind his wallet and phone in an effort to escape. His best friend, Mia, who lives downstairs, manages to grab a few more things. But as they watch from the lawn, the building collapses. Mia calls her brother, David, to come get them. David, who just happens to be Oliver’s ex, and things didn’t end well.
Oliver reluctantly agrees to stay with David, and having Mia there as a buffer helps. But Oliver can’t forget the way David broke his heart five years ago, even though the attraction and affection is still strong between them. David has recently moved back to town, and though he’s upset about the fire, he’s glad for a chance to talk to Oliver again. He’s never forgotten Oliver, and wants to get back together. Oliver has always held David’s heart.
But the thing that drove them apart, and the lack of communication, comes back to bite them. Oliver has to learn the truth. And David has to convince Oliver that they are meant to be.
Reunited lovers is one of my favorite tropes, so I was quick to pick up this new-to-me author. But I definitely came away from this one with mixed feelings. It was decent overall. I liked the MCs a lot, and liked the way they interacted with each other. But a few editing issues, as well as pacing issues, brought this story down for me.
David and Oliver are well drawn. We clearly see what makes them both tick. David has always longed for Oliver, and he assumes he knows what’s behind Oliver breaking up with him before and understands where Oliver was coming from. David is back in town for a new position with his company, but he has a goal of winning Oliver back. Or at least getting back to a good place. He’s missed Oliver, and wants nothing but the best for him.
Oliver, for his part, is doing his best to get by. He’s dated some since breaking up with David, but things never really clicked completely with other men. Seeing David again has stirred up old emotions. Namely hurt, but also the longing and pining he’s always had for the man. The chemistry between them still sizzles, and they’re drawn to each other in that way only people meant to be are. So I liked them as individuals, and I liked their romance.
But I definitely had issues with this story. The first is more of a minor thing, but there were some editing problems that caught my attention and pulled me from the story. Namely names. As in sometimes David’s last name was wrong within the text, as well as Mia’s name. On top of that, there were some weird turns of phrase, as well as repetitions within sentences that could have benefitted from a cleanup.
But the larger problem was the pacing. Up through the first three-quarters of the book, things were fine. The MCs were getting to know each other again and learning how to be in each other’s space. But then things took a drastic turn and the pace started moving at a breakneck speed. The MCs fall into bed together, all while Oliver hasn’t gotten resolution from what he thought happened years ago. But they decide they’re serious, and that things are going to move in a permanent direction. It felt like a leap for me, as they hadn’t even had a conversation about their breakup at this point. Things got worse in the final chapter, as the thing that caused Oliver to break up with David shows up in their lives, and Oliver jumps to a new conclusion without much thought. Then everything is hunky dory and the epilogue has a HEA.
For me, this really did not work. It had been such a defining moment for Oliver, and this thing that loomed between them, and there wasn’t even a real conversation about it. A couple of paragraphs told us that Oliver tells David what happened, but they don’t discuss it at all. David just gives Oliver a present he’s had for him, and that’s supposed to be the big gesture that makes everything okay. But I was missing real connection between them, and I couldn’t believe that they’d be happily ever after without, you know, actually talking about things. And if they did actually talk about things, not having it on page was a huge detriment to the story.
So while I liked the MCs and the premise, the execution fell short at the end. I couldn’t get on board with them being in love and living a happy life, because it felt forced and just too much on the surface. It’s a quick read, and as I said, a decent story. But it didn’t completely work for me.