Andrew Madigan’s seemingly perfect life has fallen apart. Losing his job was one thing, but when his boyfriend broke up with him as well, he is now left at loose ends. Heading from Virginia to a small town in Florida is supposed to be a reset. Andrew can take the summer to work on his book and on himself, heal from the pAll Postsain, and get himself back to a good place. But when the caretaker shows up to hand over the keys and show him around, the man is anything but “Old Man Brandt.” Coley is a breath of fresh air and sunshine, young, and beautiful.
Though he never says it out loud, Andrew knows he’s depressed. He barely has the energy to do anything, and the oppressive heat of Florida summer doesn’t help. But Coley checking in, and their budding friendship, gives Andrew something to look forward to. And as Andrew begins to help Coley with the yard work, he also begins to see life differently. The more he works with Coley, though, the more he wants him. But their 14-year age difference, and the fact that Andrew thinks Coley is straight, keeps him from making a move.
When a thunderstorm takes them by surprise, a heartfelt conversation leads to intimacy. The chemistry between Andrew and Coley is strong, and any time they can be together, they take the opportunity. They spend hours talking, getting to know each other, and the physical side of things is hotter and more satisfying than anything Andrew has experienced. He knows he’s falling in love with Coley, but he also knows he shouldn’t. It’s only supposed to last the summer. When Andrew gets an opportunity to teach once again at his former college, he must figure out if what he has with Coley is just a summer fling, or something so much more.
Travis Beaudoin is a new-to-me author, but with so many of my favorite tropes present, I was looking forward to diving in. And I wasn’t disappointed. Beaudoin has a lyrical style that’s not too over the top or purple, but which really sucked me into the story. The MCs are well crafted and well developed, so even though this is solely from Andrew’s POV, I really felt we go to know them both well. I was invested from the start and rooting for them the whole time.
This is Andrew’s story and his journey. He’s been dealt some bad blows, he’s mildly depressed, and he feels like a failure. But this book is about him learning about himself, learning what he really enjoys in life and what he wants from his future. And yes, a big part of that is down to Coley and falling in love. But it’s not the only part of this as Andrew does some deep diving into his own emotions and really puts in work to figure out what he wants. I loved watching him work through his darkness and into his own light, and I loved that it wasn’t solely Coley who “fixes” him, but that Coley’s sunshine and support helped him get there.
Coley, though only 20, definitely is an old soul. He’s intelligent and kind and an absolute sweetheart. And I loved how open he was, how honest and thoughtful. He’s exactly what Andrew needs, and he doesn’t push, but he supports easily and effortlessly. These guys work together on every level and I loved watching their romance grow throughout the story. The complement each other wonderfully, and though their relationship is not without obstacles, they aren’t insurmountable.
There’s a bit of a slow burn here, which was perfectly executed and their relationship felt organic and natural. There’s also a black moment, but it makes perfect sense for Andrew, for where his head is at and what he’s thinking. I liked that it didn’t last too long, and that he bared his heart for Coley. Andrew’s vulnerability was raw and honest and his grand gesture was utterly perfect.
All in all, I really liked this book. I loved the characters, the pacing was good, and their relationship was real and believable. It’s not without angst, but it’s on the mild side, and the author did a good job of balancing it with humor and light. This one is an easy recommendation from me, and I’ll definitely be checking out other books by this author.