style of love coverRating: 3.75 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Asher and Zar have been best friends forever and the two are incredibly close. They spend lots of free time together and they are always there for each other. But as close as they are, the men have never been more than friends. That all changes, however, when they agree to model for a sexy photoshoot for some friends. Being so close and in these intimate poses suddenly sparks something in Zar he never expected. Zar has always identified as straight and never felt anything more for Asher than friendship, but suddenly he is realizing that he is very attracted to Asher as well.

Asher is a little taken aback when Zar shares his feelings. He has never even considered a romantic relationship with Zar as a possibility, so he never let himself think about what could be between them. Now Asher is realizing that maybe there could be something there, but he can’t help but be wary. The pair are such good friends and Zar is everything to him. The idea of losing that if things go wrong is scary, particularly since Zar is just now realizing for the first time he might be into guys (or at least into Asher).

Even as Asher starts taking those steps forward with Zar and the men begin exploring a relationship, they face another hurdle in the form of Asher’s unsupportive family. They have never truly accepted that Asher is gay, and now that he is bringing home his best friend as his new boyfriend, they aren’t going to be happy. But Asher is realizing that dating Zar isn’t losing his best friend, it is gaining another level of love and support, and with Zar at his side, he is ready to face his parents and whatever else comes their way.

Style of Love is the first book in A.J. Sherwood’s Gay 4 Renovations series. Asher is an interior designer who owns a renovation business with his close friends. As the story starts, we learn more about the business and meet the men, who will presumably be the focus of future books. I think the set up here was a tad long in terms of moving past the series background and into the actual story for Asher and Zar. However, there is a nice interaction among the friends and I think there is good potential here for future books.

Much of this story is setting up Asher and Zar’s friendship and then watching them recognize their attraction to one another. It is clear that pretty much everyone else is just biding their time waiting for these guys to figure out they are into each other (the town has a bet going as to when they will get together). However, Asher and Zar have never seen each other as more than friends. Sherwood does a nice job giving us a sense of their friendship and how much they rely on each other. The progression into their romantic relationship feels very natural, and even as Zar is also recognizing an interest in men for the first time, his easy acceptance of his feelings for Asher make sense given their close friendship. The set up here is a little different than in many friends-to-lovers stories with an out-for-you dynamic in that Asher has never before had feelings for Zar either; often in this set up the gay friend has been secretly pining for the straight one, but that’s not the case here. So I did like that bit of twist, but I felt like I had a lack of clarity on things from Asher’s end. We are in Zar’s POV for the photo shoot so we are privy to his shift in feelings for Asher, as well as the follow up where he thinks through this new attraction. But I was never clear just when Asher starts to have feelings in return as we never really get in his head about it. Asher’s concerns seem focused on whether he wants to take a chance on Zar’s feelings, but we never really see the point where he examines his own attraction to Zar after all this time.

Most of the book is pretty internally focused on Zar and Asher, but there is a late conflict regarding Asher’s family and their homophobia. Sherwood sets things up nicely throughout the book, so we have a sense of it as an impending problem and we see things come to a head toward the end. It was nice to see how supportive Zar, his family, and their friends all are in the face of Asher’s parents’ awfulness. I did feel like the others were all kind of heavy handed in making decisions for Asher about how he would respond to his family; I think there is a line between being supportive and taking over the conflict. But that said, Asher seemed happy for their involvement, so this may be a personal preference thing.

Overall, this is a cute friends-to-lovers romance with a small town vibe. There is a nice set up for the series and this group of friends. If you enjoy a light contemporary with two men who are suddenly finding love after years of friendship, this could be a good story to check out.

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