Liam Gray loved his life. He was one month away from graduating high school and he was all set to go to college when tragedy changed his life forever. He now has a job at The Pointe catering hall and most days he’s barely holding it together. When his new manager arrives at work, Liam is shocked to see his former neighbor and first crush, Owen Parker. Liam has thought of Owen over the last three years, never considering he would ever see the man again. Yet, that old crush rises up again and Liam doesn’t know what to do with it. Owen is older than Liam, he’s now his boss, and Liam is sure he has absolutely nothing to offer Owen.
Owen has lost everything. His marriage was already in trouble, but when he came out, he lost his job and his son when his soon-to-be ex-wife took off with their 8-year old. Owen’s lawyer is getting nowhere fast and Owen is devastated, as he misses his son. Owen is grateful for the job and excited to run into Liam again, as he still harbors guilt for not being able to do more for Liam. But Liam is overwhelmed with his feelings for Owen and overwhelmed in general and when a bartender presses a pill into his hand, Liam thinks he can handle it. But one pill turns into needing an endless supply and Liam is completely on the edge of a full-blown disaster. Working together has Liam and Owen in close contact and their feelings grow alongside Liam’s addiction. The men will need to find a way to heal their wounds to be able to move forward and embrace the life they both desperately want.
This book lives up to its title as it brings us front and center to Liam’s downward spiral. He had a great life and was truly happy, then see him three years later living in a rundown apartment where he is physically and mentally trying to hold himself together. He has a job, but his life is so far off track from where he was supposed to be and his trauma is swallowing him. He’s alone and drowning in grief and truly has no idea how to move forward. Liam stays mostly to himself, but he reluctantly agrees to go out for drinks after work with coworkers and it’s the catalyst for insurmountable problems.
Owen was Liam’s first crush and he’s built him up in his mind as the perfect man. When Liam knew Owen, his life was perfect. Now, however, Liam isn’t overly excited to see Owen, for it brings up all kinds of confusing feelings. Instead of being happy to see the man at first, Liam thinks it puts a spotlight on how bad his life has become. Liam has no idea that Owen is gay and Owen’s mental health is precarious like Liam’s.
The author does a great job of developing both Owen and Liam as characters and really getting us into their dark mindsets. Liam just wanted to take the edge off of his pain and truly thought there was no way he would become addicted to pills and Owen is reluctant to see that Liam truly has an issue. This book is long at over 400 pages, and I did think it could have been trimmed to move the story along a bit faster. We spend a lot of time with Liam in the same place taking pills and I felt the same ground kept getting covered over and over. Both men have so much being thrown at them and then, toward the end of the book, more gets added and it then became a little over the top for me.
This isn’t an easy book, but it’s a story of resilience and ultimately love for two men that are devoted to each other as much as Owen is devoted to his “bad dad” jokes that offer some levity. This is the first book in a new series and, with a good cast of characters, I will look forward to my next visit.