Gus fell in love at 19 and he and Andrew were perfect together. For almost a decade, they worked and slaved to build their veterinary practice. They were going to marry, have kids, live the perfect life … then a car accident took Andrew away from him. Then there was Marco, who Gus also loved. Who he married, only for his new husband to be found sucking off the floral designer during their wedding reception. But Gus still hasn’t given up on love. He wants someone to spend forever with, someone to wake up with, laugh with, cry with, live with. But at 40 and divorced, Gus is feeling every year of his age.
Tate has always been an explorer. Pansexual and polyamorous, he had a career as a cam boy and loved it. Talking to people, engaging with them, it was great. As the son of a Hollywood actress, he well understands parasocial relationships; his only problem is the fact that he doesn’t have any real relationship at the moment. He’s retired from camming and trying his hand at writing, for which he has a talent. If only anyone were actually interested in his book.
A one-night, five-time hookup with Gus leaves Tate’s mind blown. There’s something about Gus that calls to him. Maybe it’s the humor, or the confidence, or the man’s innate charm all wrapped up in a gorgeous package. Maybe it’s Gus’s lonely heart reaching out to Tate’s own. Whatever it is, Tate doesn’t want to let this chance pass him by, and when his mother asks him to bring his new boyfriend home to visit … Tate has a wicked idea.
A fake relationship could well be just the excuse Gus and Tate need to give this a chance. This way if it doesn’t work … well, it was all pretend, right? And if it does work, well, fingers crossed.
Gus is an absolute romantic. One true love, white picket fence, kids, pets, rocking chairs on the porch … yes to all of it. Holidays with over the top decorations, family dinners, family vacations, he wants it so badly he could touch it. Thanks to Marco’s cruel antics, Gus now doubts himself and his worth. After all, he’s an old man, now. Who would go out with him? Gus obsesses over his age through the whole book. If he’s not obsessing over his age, he’s obsessing over the twenty-year age gap between him and Tate. It gets a bit wearing, but Gus’ pride and confidence have been badly hurt by his ex-husband and he’s still grieving that relationship as well. He did love Marco, and it hasn’t even been six months since the incident.
Tate is thoughtful, patient, compassionate, and giving. Even as they’re undressing one another for the first time, he reminds Gus that there is no expiration date on consent. The instant Gus wants to stop, they can stop. And if Gus wants to simply cuddle, that’s fine, too. Tate brings banter and laughter and lightness to bed with him, being very sex positive and respectful. However, he also somewhat looks down on monogamous relationships, not believing you can find one person to fit all of your needs. However, Tate’s view on what a poly relationship can be didn’t all make sense to me. That he’s pan is clearly established, but his ideas about polyamory confused me. But that’s the only flat note in this book, for me.
This is the third book in the Vet Shop Boys series and has all the things that make this series so enjoyable: banter, compassion, communication, and love. As with the previous two books, this one focuses on the relationship between two people, how it shapes them, and how they shape it. Gus and Tate were both bogged down with labels. So long as both men involved were of consenting age, so long as they both loved one another, so long as they were both happy together, did any of the rest of it matter? I very much enjoyed this book, and do recommend it.