nothing to lose coverRating: 4 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Peyton ran a successful bakery until he needed too much time off due to illness to keep it running. His Crohn’s disease was under control until it wasn’t, and Peyton had surgery that saved his life, but it changed his body forever. It’s been about two years and Peyton is getting back on his feet, including starting a home bakery. To Peyton’s delight, the long-time fans of his baking have been willing to stick with him and he is finally getting back to the thing he truly loves. While work is going well, however, Peyton still isn’t feeling fully himself physically. His body is so changed and he is having trouble feeling sexy and he can’t help but find the idea of trying to date again in his situation terrifying.

Hudson had a tumor on his spine, which fortunately wasn’t cancerous, but having it removed has affected his ability walk all but short distances. His husband, Austin, left him when he realized that Hudson’s body (and his sexual abilities) had changed in ways that Austin didn’t want to deal with. While, at this point, Hudson is happy to have said good riddance to his horrible ex, the experience has made him less interested in trying again. Like Peyton, Hudson has struggled to fully get back to his sexual self and he had trouble finding sex toys for people in his situation. So, he started a now very successful company that designs sex toys for people with disabilities.

When Hudson moves next door to Peyton, the men get off on the wrong foot, with Hudson’s grumpiness clashing with Peyton’s friendly, sunshiney demeanor. But as the men slowly begin to interact, a friendship forms, along with a shared understanding of what it is like to experience both a life threatening illness, and also to struggle emotionally in the aftermath. Both men are wary about new relationships and neither are fully confident about someone accepting them as they are. But Peyton and Hudson have built a special connection and, if they are willing to take a chance, they may find happiness with one another.

Nothing to Lose is a sweet story with really interesting characters. It was originally published as a serial, but has since been combined together and released as a single novel. I’m not a big serial reader, so I was excited to see this re-release and I think the transition of the individual chapters into one book feels very seamless. This is a fairly quiet story with an intense focus on Hudson and Peyton. I say time and again that E.M. Lindsey is so masterful at character development and that is really showcased here. The men are on similar journeys, both having survived significant health situations that changed their lives and now mostly settled back into their new normal. Both Peyton and Hudson found their bodies dramatically changed in ways that affect their daily life, but also their sexual lives as well. And they both are struggling to figure out a way forward from a sexual and relationship standpoint. I think this whole topic was so well explored and I liked that the men had similar enough situations that they could relate to each other well, but also different enough to make them feel distinct as characters. It is really rewarding to see these guys find each other, but also to see them realize that they are still desirable and that there are people out there who will still love them and want them just as they are.

The pacing here does feel a little off, however, as the relationship comes very late in the book. For most of the story, the men feel like they are on parallel tracks where we see each of them go about their lives with occasional crossed paths with each other. They aren’t even really friends until much of the way through the book, and beyond a general sense of finding the other attractive, there is nothing that moves them into a sexual or even romantic connection until very late in the story. At that point, we get one real scene together, a jump to a year later, and an epilogue. So while I really enjoyed the slow burn and sense of these men growing and finding their way, I wished more time was spent on them together as a couple.

While most of the focus here is on Peyton and Hudson, we do meet assorted friends and family who are interesting characters as well. We also see Peyton start providing baked goods for a deaf-owned and staffed coffee shop, which is the focus of Lindsey’s upcoming BrewBiz series. So this is great timing to jump into this world, and overall I found this one an enjoyable story.

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