By Casey Ashwood
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
“I don’t want him breaking your heart again.”
Brody’s secret was in danger.
Down on his luck and deep in the closet, tattoo artist Brody Allen is afraid of who he’s become. He doesn’t know how things got so bad so fast. Dating his best friend, Luke, was the worst decision he ever made. Brody couldn’t bring himself to tell the truth about their relationship, and Luke walked out of his life. Since then, Brody’s drowned his sorrows in drink and anger, and refused to open himself to love again.
Why was Luke letting himself get involved again?
Fitness instructor Luke Reid moved back home to help his parents out, and get away from the hustle of Philadelphia. Portland, Maine, seems like the perfect getaway. He’s ready to relax and live the quiet life of lobster cakes and lighthouses. He doesn’t expect the man who shattered his heart and forced him back into the closet to still be there after all these years.
There was a fragile connection.
When Brody and Luke cross paths, the passion between them is reignited. Can Brody find the courage to face his fears and stand out and proud at Luke’s side? And can Luke forgive Brody for his wrongdoings? Will they be able to fall into each other’s arms once more or will they have their dreams and hearts crushed all over again?
Though this book isn’t high on intensity, it’s a charming a sensual read. The two main characters, Brody and Luke, run into each other again after splitting up five years ago because Brody wouldn’t publicly acknowledge he was gay and involved with Luke. In the meantime, Luke moves out of state and Brody remains in Portland where he harbors a lot of anger and guilt and starts drinking far too much and resolving his anger issues through brawling. When Luke returns to town to help out his parents financially after his dad loses his job, he and Brody run into one another. The chemistry between the two still flames, but Luke isn’t too anxious to relive his grief and pain by becoming involved again with Brody, only to have him push him aside. Brody, meanwhile, realizes that he needs to become a better person (less drinking, no more fighting, treating his parents respectfully) if he has any hopes of becoming involved again with Luke.
This is a feel good, love wins out in the end sort of book. A lot of the dialogue appears overly optimistic and easy-going, but Ashwood does a good job of pointing out the internal disruptions facing the main character, Brody. He has a lot of admissions to make to himself, apologies to offer and demons to tackle, but he finds strength to fight his battles through his burgeoning relationship with Luke. And boy, does Brody have a lot of issues to handle: too much drinking and fighting, anger, low self-esteem, guilt. Luke is a sensitive and caring person who complements the strong-willed and able-bodied Brody. These two have a heartwarming friendship that serves as their foundation for building a long-term, second-chance romance. It’s easy for the reader to accept the level of love they have for one another. The storyline delves into several realistic situations, such as coming out of the closet to parents and colleagues and dealing with people’s subsequent reactions, and realizing that admitting wrongs and seeking help in order to be with the one you love takes courage. I enjoyed that any external angst (limited pretty much to Luke’s co-worker Adam’s homophobia) was kept to a minimum so instead Ashwood could dive straight in to attack Brody’s internal struggles. This was a pleasant and heartwarming read. One can visualize this couple staying together for the long haul because their friendship, and ultimately their relationship, is built on love and mutual respect.
The “huh?” part?
Realistically, treating alcoholism is much more complicated than what the book conveys, but for the sake of the story, that was fine. In real life, however, it’s doubtful that Brody could have achieved success in stopping his drinking alone.
Brody’s courage to change his ways so he could live a happier life and be with Luke.
Yes, this story is as much about friendship and loyalty as it is about (gay) romance. It’s about admitting problems in order to grow and change, to become a better person for yourself and others. It’s a pleasant read and well written. The dialogue keeps the reader in the moment.
Review originally posted on Amazon and Goodreads on May 7, 2016.