At 14, Bailey’s mother passed and he became an orphan. His uncle refused to take him in because he was gay, so for two weeks, Bailey was in the foster care system and living in a group home. There, he met Trey, a slightly older boy with whom he connected. For two weeks, Bailey and Trey shared so much, and ended things with a kiss. But Bailey’s long-lost brother came to get him and he had to leave Trey behind — along with his heart.
Trey grew up in the system and protected himself from connection of any kind until Bailey came along. As happy as he was for Bailey to get to live with his brother, Trey knew he was losing his heart when Bailey walked away. Trey cut off all contact, determined to make something of himself before he could get Bailey back. Joining the army was his ticket to a better life.
But life has gotten in the way. Eight years have passed and both men think of the other frequently. Bailey often wonders what happened to Trey, and knows that a big part of why his relationships don’t work out is because he’s still pining for Trey. Trey, for his part, is finishing his last tour, his last mission, with the intent to finally track Bailey down and begin the rest of his life. But the war zone has other ideas.
Another two years go by before the men reconnect in the most surprising of places. Seeing each other again is a shock. Bailey is finally in a place where he thinks he’s going to move on, but Bailey and Trey gave their hearts away as teens, and though it will take some work and communication, these two men are destined to be together.
This book is a spin off from the author’s Nice Ink series, which I haven’t read. Edmisten makes a note that this is standalone, but works best when read after the previous series. I have to say that’s an accurate assessment. While there were small pieces I felt were missing by not having the background on the whole host of secondary characters, on the whole, this can be read on its own. I will add, however, that perhaps additional information here about Bailey’s brother and the circumstances behind their separation would have helped. It may have been explained in a previous book, but not here.
I’m a sucker for reunited lovers and second chance romance, so I was quick to pick this book up. And there are sweet and lovely moments here that made me like it. But I also finished the book with mixed feelings, as for me, I would have liked deeper development on certain plot points. Edmisten is a new-to-me author, and perhaps it’s partly her narrative style. However, it definitely left me wanting at certain points.
It begins with Bailey’s mother’s death and the revelation just before she passes that Bailey has a brother. The first part of the book is Bailey trying to deal with that at the same time as he meets Trey. There are some heavy themes in this book, especially in the first part, but the author handles them fairly well. While I would have liked to see deeper exploration of some of it, it doesn’t gloss over the harder things, and shows two boys just trying to survive. I will say that as much as I felt the connection between Bailey and Trey as friends, I wasn’t quite on board with that declaration of love. Perhaps if things had been delved into deeper, I would have. But it seemed superficial at best, to me, and not the kind of love that could span a decade before they were reunited.
What I did enjoy was the way the author formatted the book. There are four parts, essentially. The beginning, two intermediary parts where we see both MCs and how their lives are going, and then the last part where they finally reconnect. That, coupled with the dual POV, gave us a good idea of what both men were thinking and how they were living their lives. So that whole thing worked for me, and I appreciated the set up.
But again, when Bailey and Trey reconnected, things seemed to move super quickly. They were expressing their love for each other rather fast, and though Bailey makes note that Trey doesn’t know him anymore, that’s quickly forgotten. I had a harder time getting on board with the easy way Bailey forgave Trey, and how quickly their relationship progressed to forever. Again, I think if certain aspects had been more deeply explored, this would have worked better for me.
Ultimately, this book was a mixed bag for me. There were parts I really liked and others that didn’t work as well. There has to be a certain level of suspension of disbelief when reading this story in order for it to work, and while that’s not a bad thing exactly, it didn’t work as well for me as I would have hoped. If you’re a fan of this author, or have read the Nice Ink series, then I would say give this one a go.