Story Rating: 4 stars
Audio Rating: 4 stars
Narrators: Tristan James and Tim Paige
Length: 8 hours, 42 minutes
Jeremiah Wolfe is doing a favor for a friend, but he ends up having to help a drunk man up to his room at the hotel instead. When the occupant of the room next door comes out to see what the noise is about, Jeremiah is both angry at the man’s attitude, but also captivated by his looks. After Jeremiah gets the drunk man squared away, the other man asks if Jeremiah is a hustler, and then invites him in. The night is spent dripping in sex like Jeremiah has never experienced, and the connection between them can’t be denied. But Jeremiah leaves before morning light without getting the man’s name, though he can’t stop thinking about him. He vows to head back to that hotel after his shift at the restaurant in hopes of seeing the man again.
Cameron Gallagher doesn’t have sex with strangers, and the night is an anomaly in more ways than one. He can’t get the tall dark man out of his head, and he just knows there’s something more between them. Cameron’s preoccupied during his very important meeting, but all the while, he’s planning on ways he can find out who the stranger is and how they can meet again. Neither Jeremiah nor Cameron expect to run into each other again at the restaurant. And a tension filled conversation in the bathroom has them both admitting that what they feel is unprecedented, but cannot be ignored.
Their plans to see each other again that night are derailed when an emergency calls Cameron home. As they are apart, they talk on the phone and their connection only grows. Jeremiah gets pulled into an unexpected police investigation, and his first thought is to call Cameron. He’s never had anyone to lean on, so he’s even more confused by the impulse. What’s worse, Jeremiah interrupts an attack and that lands him in the hospital. It takes until the next morning to call Cameron, and hopped up on pain meds, he admits things he normally wouldn’t. Cameron can’t get to him fast enough, and he’s there to hear that Jeremiah is ready to change his life.
Neither Jeremiah nor Cameron really believed in love at first sight. Though Cameron has seen it within his own family, he never expected it to happen to him. Jeremiah has a few close friends, but has never been able to let people in. They question their feelings, and the other man’s feelings, but they keep coming to the same conclusion: they were meant for each other.
This book is classic Calmes with endearing MCs, a plethora of interesting secondary characters, and plot lines that are over the top. This book is long and a lot happens that’s on the edge of ridiculous. And yet, Calmes makes it work. It’s no secret I’m a fan of this author, and part of that is over the top storylines. Here a lot happens to Jeremiah in particular that just seems crazy, with police investigations, fire, beatings, and other adventures. Any one of those things would be surprising, but lumped all together, it almost seems like too much. But again, Calmes manages to give it a quality that flows within the book. There’s something about her writing that just makes me jump in and go with it.
I loved the MCs here, who both have big hearts. And I love how believable the author makes love at first sight seem with these two. I can’t even use the more colloquial term instalove here, because it’s not like that. This is a story about two men who embody that instant and total connection at first meeting and how easily that follows into love. The chemistry between Jeremiah and Cameron sparks and sizzles from the start, and only grows hotter and more complete as the story goes on. Everything else aside, the love story here is so good that it makes everything else work.
That being said, there’s a lot going on here. There are a ton of secondary characters who play pivotal roles within the story, and really, these storylines are picked up and dropped throughout the book. And it’s a lot. I can’t stress that enough. There are so many secondary plot lines threaded through here that while, as I said, it works, it is at times a bit too much. I would have liked to see some of it pared down. I don’t want to spoil any plot points for those who haven’t yet read or listened to it, but they are points that in and of themselves are big deals, and there are multiple ones. After the third or forth one, I was ready for it to calm down.
Listening to this book was a different experience, as it’s a dual narration, and I haven’t listened to a lot of those. Tristan James and Tim Paige team up to narrate, which works well as this book is told in alternating first person POV. James narrates Jeremiah’s chapters and Paige handles Cameron’s. James kicks things off and, at first, I was having a hard time getting into the audio. James has a smooth voice that has a really great quality, so it’s easy to listen to, but in the first few pages it’s more him reading the book than performing it. By the end of the chapter, and throughout the rest of the book, this improved. James’ had more emotion in his voice, as well as character voices. Paige managed that from the start, and his voice is also wonderful to listen to. I liked that there was enough difference between the two narrators that it was instantly recognizable whose chapter it was. I did have a slight problem with the different emotions and voices each narrator gave characters, as it caused a bit of a discordance to my ear. While I liked both narrators, it didn’t always work seamlessly for me. There were also times when I felt, with both narrators, that they didn’t embody the MCs as I saw them, and other times when it worked well. So the narration is objectively good, but it didn’t always work great for me.
Overall though, this story was well done. If you’re a fan of this author, then definitely pick this book up. And while the audio was a mixed bag for me, I would say it’s worth a listen if you prefer to consume your books that way.