By Riley Hart
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Rod Nelson is used to being someone’s good time, and that’s fine with him. Spending his days at his adult toy store, Rods-N-Ends, he never knows who he’ll meet. The second Landon Harrison walks in, he has Rod’s full attention. It seems as if Landon wants him too, so why won’t the man jump in the sack with him already?
Landon never thought he’d return home to the town where memories lurk around every corner. He has to admit, Rod makes the adjustment a lot easier. He keeps Landon laughing. Despite the fierce attraction between them, he’s not willing to risk his newfound friendship to get laid.
Neither man wants something serious, but the more they’re together, the harder it is to keep their hands to themselves, until eventually they stop trying.
But flings between friends are never simple, and as they attempt to shift gears, diving into their first relationship, they’re slammed with setbacks. If they want to truly move forward, before they hit the open road together, they’re going to have to let go of a past that could make them crash and burn.
“Just ride it out with me. That’s what I’m doing, riding it out. We’re shifting gears, that’s all. Not sure where we’re going. Not even sure I know how to get there, but let’s just try to enjoy the ride.”
I am an avid fan of Riley Hart’s writing. Shifting Gears is no exception. She weaves a profound depth of vulnerability and raw emotion into her two main characters, Rod and Landon. They both are afraid they’re going to screw up if they attempt to become anything beyond friends. It quickly becomes evident to Landon that Rod isn’t as confident on the inside as he is on the outside and that he hides the pain inflicted by his father during his childhood. Landon also had daddy issues, though they come from a different angle. Watching the two of them fight the internal battles holding them back from making a commitment to one another does seem drawn out and repetitive, as does Rod’s coping mechanism of shifting everything said into a sexual innuendo. Eventually they come to act on and accept the genuine affection they hold for one another and admit their true feelings. Their humorous banter – only magnified by input from Nick and Bryce (so fun to have them part of the story) – added to the realistic development of this flawed couple’s relationship. The storyline was solid for me. Landon was a genuinely nice guy, especially as he started realizing how much he truly cared for and liked Rod, from wanting to spend more time with him to standing up for him against a bigot, teaching him how to ride a motorcycle and planning the fireworks show after coming home early on July 4. I was surprised by the final few twists pertaining to Landon’s father and the role his mother assumed right under Landon’s nose when he returned to town, especially since in real life something like this could have realistically played out that way. Rod and Landon, similar to Nick and Bryce (who again, it was great to have them involved in this story, too), are people who you can relate to and generally care about.
I recommend anything written by Riley Hart. She’s definitely one of my favorite authors, hands down.
Review originally posted on Amazon and Goodreads on April 13, 2016.