Rating: 3 stars
Buy Link:
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Length: Novel


Bastian Russo has lived in Chicago his entire life and Andres has been his best friend for just as long. Bastian is a hair stylist at an upscale salon and has lived in the same Boystown apartment for years. Inside the closet is a list of men’s names that have broken his heart, as well as the hearts of previous residents—the Boystown Heartbreakers. Bastian constantly thinks that he is not good enough and not successful enough and his bad choices in men leave him broken hearted.

Andres is a successful chef and restauranteur. He has quietly loved Bastian for what feels like forever, but it never felt like the right time for them. After Bastian’s latest breakup, Andres finally suggests that the two of them should date each other. Andres knows everything about Bastian, including his insecurities, and everyone doesn’t understand why the men aren’t already dating. Bastian has to figure out how to move from Andres’ best friend to his boyfriend, and his insecurities might cause them to wind up next on the list of Boystown Heartbreakers.

Childhood friends to lovers is a favorite trope of mine and Bastian and Andres had that going for them, as they have been friends almost their entire lives. Yet, I was underwhelmed by the flow and execution of their relationship. The book is told entirely from Bastian’s point of view and I really needed to know what Andres thought for most of the book. After Bastian’s latest breakup, Andres casually suggests that Bastian now date Andres. I hadn’t gotten a well developed feeling of their relationship at that point and Andres doesn’t tell Bastian how he truly feels, most likely for fear of scaring him off. The two of them secretly start dating, which moves to fade to black intimacy, and their chemistry beyond friendship was never evident for me. They did love each other, but being in love with each felt toned down for me.

Bastian is a hairstylist and his boss, the owner of the salon, feels like a disembodied voice of harsh words and all of the salon clients are shown to be inconsiderate and self-involved. The author writes extensively in the author notes about her time as a hair stylist and it clearly seems there are a lot of micro aggressions and unresolved feelings and it became tiresome to read.

The third-person point of view did create an atmosphere to the story and the scenes were visual. The men don’t suffer from miscommunication, they suffer from no communication. They never define their relationship, even between themselves, which leads to late in the book jumping to conclusions and assumptions that only detracted from the story. The men do get a heartfelt happy ending, but this debut book was missing that zing for me between the characters.