Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Link:
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Length: Novel

 

Gem’s life is full of what he perceives as failures. He’s been trying to become a game developer for years, but hasn’t managed any real success. And the last man he dated, for six months no less, ghosted him after Christmas and then shows up with a new man on his arm at a party. Gem isn’t particularly heartbroken, but he’s definitely feeling down. But when his boss at the bookstore suggests Gem opens his own games store down the road, the idea takes root. And Gem’s best friend is all for the idea, which gives Gem the push he needs.

Finn is very quiet and shy, which isn’t easy in a family full of extroverts. But he’s found a real friendship with Gem over the past year. And if Finn wants Gem for more than a friend? Well, that’s better kept to himself. Because Finn is keeping a secret from everyone, and he thinks that if Gem finds out, any romance between them will fizzle and die.

Gem has wanted Finn as well, but he’s convinced Finn doesn’t feel the same way. One night, while painting the new premises for Gem’s game shop, things take a turn. A moment, a look, and Finn takes control. Finn lets out the part of him that is a soft Dom, and it pushes every one of Gem’s buttons. Friends with benefits seems like a good scenario between them.

But with every encounter, feelings grow. Neither man wants to put a label on it, not because they don’t actually want more, but because while they’re good at communication, this is the one thing they don’t talk about. They are off the charts compatible in bed and both have much deeper feelings. And when Gem puts the pieces together and realizes Finn’s secret, he just has to figure out how to tell Finn he knows.

With a little bit of help, the men finally talk. Finn has to take Gem at his word that Gem doesn’t mind. That, more than that, he actually loves it. That he loves Finn. Finn loves Gem just as much. With everything out in the open, they can finally get their happily ever after.

This book is the second in Novak’s Forever Love series, but it works perfectly well as a standalone. I didn’t read the first one, and it seems it’s a series of family members getting their HEAs. It also appears, with a little bit of research, that it’s a spin off from the author’s Roll For Love series. But I didn’t need to have read either to enjoy this story and didn’t feel like anything was missing.

I was drawn in right from the start, though it took a little bit to sort out the large cast of characters. This stems from the books that have come before, and had I read them, it probably would have been easier to jump right in. But the author does a great job of giving every secondary character a sense of place, and it didn’t take more than a couple of pages to have all the supporting characters settled. I loved the sense of found family here, even though some of the characters are blood related, and it had a lovely sense of charm about the whole thing.

This book is the very definition of sweet with heat. It’s got a great deal of heat, actually, and not always in the most expected places. Gem and Finn’s chemistry sparked from the start, and only grew between them the more they explored their feelings. I also loved the complete support that Finn gave Gem. Gem is dealing with his sense of failure and, at times, his pessimism gets the better of him. But he’s not morose, and Finn’s no nonsense attitude helps. These guys work together well right from the start. And oh, does the heat soar between them. The dirty talk is off the charts, and if you’re a fan of that, then this book’s is for you.

There’s also a fair bit of requited pining going on here, even after they begin a sexual side to their relationship. Given the nature of their sexual encounters, conversation is key. And these two are good at that, as well as in other areas of their life. But one quibble with this book is that they both have feelings for the other, but don’t talk about that in particular until things come to a head. I liked that it wasn’t a big miscommunication. Rather, it was Finn’s internal panic that sent him running. I really liked that it didn’t last long. The next day, Finn is ready to talk. And that felt real and believable. I just wished they would have communicated sooner.

I said this was a book of sweet with heat, and I talked about the heat, but let’s talk about the sweet. There’s no real angst here, so that’s a mark in that column. But the final quarter or so of the book is pretty sappy. I’m not actually against sap, but these two guys get pretty sugary with each other once they’ve admitted their feelings. And for me, it was a bit much at times. I didn’t need the constant declarations of love, or the constant reminders of how lucky they each felt to have the other.

All that being said, if you’re a fan of low angst sweet with heat, then this is one to definitely check out. I really liked the characters and liked watching them get their act together and find their HEA. And I’ll definitely be checking out more from the series.

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