most of you coverRating: 4.25 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Emil grew up with an abusive mother and an absentee father. When he finally broke free, Emil was focused on his own emotional survival and, aided by having obscene amounts of money, lived a life largely unconcerned with others. That included one of his best friends, Victor. When Victor’s fiance was cheating on him with Emil and Victor’s business partner, Emil kept it a secret, hurting Victor deeply. The men managed to salvage their friendship, both on the strength of Victor’s forgiveness and Emil’s determination to become a better person. Now, Emil has moved to the East Coast, along with Victor and his boyfriend, Oliver, hoping for a fresh start. Part of that includes dealing with his late mother’s house and belongings.

Renzo is staying with this brother, Matty, while his sister is out of town. That means he sees Emil next door, first when he catches Emil watching him chop wood, and later as Emil is burning some of his mother’s old things. The men strike up a conversation that leads to a hot encounter, but it is one that neither man expects to repeat. Renzo is not long out of a horrible marriage to a cruel man who made him feel awful about himself and isn’t in any hurry to get back into a relationship. And Emil doesn’t think he is worthy of loving or deserving of any kind of happiness.

While the men expected their connection to be one night only, when they encounter each other once again, they are drawn back to one another. Renzo and Emil just click with one another, both physically and emotionally. Neither man had expected to want more, but it doesn’t take long before both men realize there could be something serious between them. But both men also have a lot of emotional baggage and figuring out how to make a relationship work is not easy. Renzo and Emil never thought they would want something serious together, but now that they have found it, they need to figure out a way to move forward as a couple.

Most of You is the second book in the Beginning of Always series, following the fabulous Halo. That is Victor and Oliver’s story, and Emil plays a prominent side role there. Both Victor and Oliver appear in this book as a source of advice and support for their friends — Emil is still close with Victor and Oliver, and Renzo works with Oliver at the university. I think Emil and Renzo’s story stands alone pretty well, but some of Emil’s lack of self worth comes from his shame at the way he handled things with Victor, and having read the first book will round things out here a little more fully.

I really enjoyed this story of two men who have both been hurt emotionally and end up finding happiness together. The book falls on the right level of intensity for me, with a serious tone to the issues both men are struggling with, but without being overly heavy. Both Emil and Renzo have complicated pasts. For Renzo, it was the hurt that his ex-husband caused him that still is painful. It was made worse because his ex was also awful to Renzo’s brother, something for which Renzo can’t forgive himself for not realizing. Emil has an incredibly complicated past, with a mother who was abusive, a father who threw money at him but ignored him, and adult life that he is ashamed of. Emil is determined to be better, but he has so much shame over his past actions that he doesn’t really feel like he deserves happiness. Yet despite both men feeling uncertain about a relationship, they connect so well and just can’t stay away from each other. There is a sweetness and a lot of heat to their dynamic, as Renzo and Emil find themselves drawn to each other over and over. As always, E.M. Lindsey’s character development is top notch and I really enjoyed watching these men fall for each other.

I did feel like timeline was a bit hard to follow here. The story starts at the end of the college semester with Renzo inputting grades, which typically is at least a couple of weeks into December. So much time feels like it has passed before it is even Christmas, and I just had trouble getting a handle on the timeline. For example, Emil meets a woman at the start of the story and refers to her as his best friend after what seems like could only have been a week or two. So I just wish the timing was nailed down a little more clearly. Also, while I think the story does lay out a future for the men as a couple, I wanted a little more information on Emil specifically. He starts the story after selling his company and moving across the country. Does he ever get another job? He is so rich, he doesn’t need one, but what has he been doing all day for months and months before the story starts? And what will he be doing in the future? It isn’t anything crucial, but I felt like I ended with a couple of questions that I would have liked to see addressed in terms of their long-term future.

Overall, I found this a lovely story and it is a nice fit in tone with Halo. The books work together well and I really enjoyed watching Emil and Renzo find their happiness as a couple.

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