It’s been ten years since Cooper and Adam ended their relationship. There were things that Cooper needed from Adam that Adam didn’t feel like he could give, and they realized they couldn’t move forward together. But that hasn’t stopped the men from thinking about each other, from missing one another, and from needing each other all this time, even as they do their best to avoid one another in their small town and within their close group of friends. Now, however, Cooper and Adam both end up at the same party, in the same quiet room, and the chemistry and connection between them is too much to resist.
After their hot night together, both men realize that all those feelings from ten years ago haven’t gone away. But they also know that unless they can work through their past issues, there isn’t a chance for a future for them. While both men are into kink, Cooper is a switch and needs to be the Dom at times in their relationship. And while deep down Adam enjoys submission, he also let himself get too in his own head about what it meant to submit all those years ago, making them incompatible. Now, Adam is willing to face those fears, eager to try again and show Cooper that they can work. And Cooper is more open about his own past insecurities that were further fueling the conflict. Adam and Cooper have a second chance to be together and find the happiness with one another they have always wanted, but they have to be willing to be honest, trust each other, and give a little to make it all work.
To Love You is the second book in Kate Hawthorne’s Not Ready for Love trilogy, a group of stories that interconnect in a really interesting way. The first book, Not Allowed, takes place ten years ago and features Adam’s son, Wyatt, and Adam’s best friend, Grant. In that story, Cooper and Adam appear as side characters and we see them dating. This book opens up just as Wyatt is leaving for college (so roughly at the end of book 1) and we learn that things have fallen apart for Cooper and Adam. Then we jump ahead to present day, ten years later, and pick back up with the story. This book does mostly work from a relationship end as a standalone, but these stories intertwine and I think are much more enjoyable read as a set. I’ll also note that this story does reveal some elements of Grant and Wyatt’s relationship and what happened to them in the intervening years between book 1 and the resolution of their story coming in book 3. So these are best read in order.
I think Hawthorne does a great job with this lovers reunited story. Sometimes in books where the early part of the relationship happens before the start of the story, it can be difficult to really feel the scope of the connection between characters, especially without flashbacks. But here, I really could immediate feel the chemistry between Cooper and Adam right from the start. I think that is in part helped by the fact that we see them dating in Not Allowed, even though we don’t have much of a window into their relationship at that point. But also, Hawthorne just really builds the emotion between them and I could see easily feel how these men have never lost their feelings for one another and how much they miss each other. So I was all in with them from the start and really enjoyed seeing them find their way back to happiness together.
We know right away (as do Cooper and Adam) exactly what caused the problems between them. Both men are into kink, but Cooper is a switch and he has been burned before by a boyfriend who wasn’t willing to sub for him, and demeaned Cooper for enjoying submission himself. So Cooper feels this is something he cannot compromise on in his relationships. Adam subbed for Cooper when they were together years ago, and in his more reflective moments he can admit he enjoyed it. But overlaying that was a sense of embarrassment and insecurity that kept getting in the way. Now, the men have both grown up and are ready to find a way to work things out. Cooper is open with his past and able to articulate why this is something he needs. And Adam is willing to reflect more on what he wants, accept the submissive side of himself, and offer a balance to their kink dynamic. The conflict here comes early, as the men start out with the problem and spend most of the book then working through it. The story fits nicely with the trilogy theme in that it is clear the men were not ready ten years ago to make this work, but now have grown in the necessary ways to approach the relationship again.
Grant and Wyatt both appear here again as side characters and we get some hints of what is going on with them, leading nicely into their upcoming book that finishes their story. I am really enjoying how these books work together and am very eager to see how the journeys end.