Shelby Borchard is the uber-competent receptionist at Weston and Ramirez, a legal firm that specializes in LGBTQ law and cases. He’s always ready to help out a friend or colleague with great advice, and yet continues to fall for men who are straight or ashamed to be seen with him. Shelby’s caught in a domestic dispute with his latest beau, a man he recently moved in with, and is rescued from further battery by Camden Cooper, brother to two attorneys at W&R.
Shelby doesn’t have a safe place to live anymore, but Cam’s not going to let him sleep in his car to avoid his abuser. Beyond that, in the fracas to get Shelby safe, Cam fell, twisting his ankle terribly. Cam is a contractor and house flipper, relatively famous online. He’s got a bunch of projects in the mix, including his own personal residence, but he’s overextended on all his bills. Being physically incapable of working for the next few months will only set him further back. He’s also lacking health insurance so, when it turns out that Cam’s ankle is broken and he needs surgery and extensive physical therapy, Shelby proposes a daring plan: getting married. Shelby’s health insurance is amazing and will cover the care for treating Cam’s broken ankle. It doesn’t hurt that Shelby has been secretly crushing on Cam for a while now. He’s exactly Shelby’s type, after all: fit, dependable, artistic, and straight. Which is why Shelby decides it’s time for him to take a break from men; this last guy was so great on paper and so terrible in person, after all. Getting married to Cam would keep him from seeking any new partners until they divorce, which would happen once Cam is literally back on his feet in a few months.
It’s a wild idea, but they tie the knot; Shelby moves into the newly renovated pool house at Cam’s, and Cam moves in with him, because the house is unlivable, especially for a person with limited mobility. The pool house is cute and beautifully appointed, but it’s also small, and there’s just the one bed. And that kiss they shared at the civil ceremony was unexpected. In fact, everything about the way Cam and Shelby fit together is unexpected. And awesome.
Cam’s always considered himself straight, but he’s got two queer siblings. He was engaged to a woman not long ago, which is part of the reason he’s in such dire monetary straits. Yet, he’s clearly interested in Shelby, whom Cam finds to be beautiful. And, Shelby’s attraction is growing exponentially the more time he and Cam spend together. Cam loves kissing Shelby and he’s curious if sex with a man is something he could take pleasure in. It’s soon clear that they both desire one another, and wouldn’t it be okay to pursue some physical pleasure with their husband, even if the plan is to dissolve the relationship eventually? The short answer is yes, yes YES! Though Shelby expects to be left behind completely, as usual. It’s not long before Cam’s trying to figure out how to convince his husband not to divorce him.
This is a fake marriage, caretaking, bisexual awakening romance between two men who need someone to put them first. Shelby’s been abandoned more than once by family and lovers, and doesn’t feel worthy of love. Cam’s been jilted and sure he’s a bad bet due to his enormous debt. Neither man is looking for forever, but their few months of cohabitation have both of them curious about what that could look like. It’s sweet and tender and I really enjoyed it. The author acknowledged that she didn’t research if the marriage-for-insurance gambit was fully legal, but the way American healthcare is these days, I feel like it could be plausible. People get married for less noble reasons than providing needed medical care. I’m generally a fan of fake boyfriend/husband tropes, and this one delivered on the feels. We get deep into both MCs heads as they trade POVs, and it’s fun dealing with their struggles as Shelby tries NOT to fall in love, and Cam embraces the fact that he loves Shelby.
Expect a lot of cameos from the MCs of previous books in the IOU series as they support both Cam and Shelby on their path toward a happily ever after.