What happens before even reaching the starting line…
Author: Shae Connor
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Photo: feedyoureyes.net, Design: Paul Richmond
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Five years ago, Evan Day lost his lover in the Afghan sand, and in the fallout, he lost his military career and his family. With help from friends, he reinvented himself as porn star Trevor Hardball, but his scars are hidden, not healed. When Riley Yeats falls into Evan’s lap in a bar, he awakens a part of Evan he’d thought was dead and gone. Evan’s fascinated by the blond and twinky Riley, even though he’s the opposite of Evan’s usual type.
Then Evan’s family reappears his life, and Evan soon learns Riley has his own family-inflicted wounds—ones that make it hard for him to be there for Evan. A disastrous confrontation between Evan and his parents leaves Evan’s mother injured and Evan overcome by anger and fear. Losing his tenuous hold on his emotional control, Evan makes one bad decision after another, but maybe his final fall will be the wake-up call Evan needs to set things right—with his parents, and with Riley.
First impressions: I was intrigued, the writing was smooth, both Evan and Riley had me curious, as did whether the story would play out predictably or otherwise. And even if it did, maybe it wouldn’t matter as long as the characters showed themselves to be layered and unique, making me want to know them.
You know what’s lovely? This is set in Atlanta and it shows. The biggest “clue” is the abundance of flips flops everyone is wearing, with peaches and a rare low-humidity day in May also making appearances. It all added to the sweetness that was quickly becoming the smiles between Evan and Riley. Would it last?
You know what else is lovely? The friendships. Even and his best friend, Cory, have known each other a long time and it shows. It’s an easy, caring and comfortable relationship. It’s the same with Cory’s longtime boyfriend, Jimmy. They share this friendship over coleslaw and BBQ, which is even better.
Evan is approaching a turning point in his life, one that is pulling his attention and changing his desires in several different directions simultaneously. He’s also dealing with parents who can’t seem to get past their own issues and accept him for who he is, and who he wants to be. He’s struggling with the memories surrounding the loss of some important people in his life. Yeah, definitely at a crossroads, he be. Better than a breaking point, at least. Not much, though.
There’s a level of familiarity with this story for me. I think it’s part setting and part recognizing Evan and who he is, who he’s struggling not to become, and who he wants to be. Badly. The image that flashed in my mind was of me holding hands with this book, lending support, feeling along with Evan, experiencing his emotions, all of them. It’s a subdued, quiet experience.
This is about the changes in life and the people that sometimes act as the catalyst. An unexpected catalyst, one that turns the world on its axis even when they’re not right there with you. Evan and Riley both carry around heavy baggage and don’t really know how to deal with that. Their own is enough of a struggle, how do you then incorporate someone else’s into your life? And not just incorporate but attempt a relationship, a serious relationship, for the first time? The mid-20s are difficult enough without all of this piled atop. They both want to try, they can taste it. They want it so badly but how to get there? I like this mix of a very adult story with vulnerability that is connected to a much younger time in life.
This is one of those stories that steps beyond romance and is exploring life and its challenges and how these two in particular are handling them, or not. We start at the beginning when Riley and Hunter first meet but nothing is rushed and the story is told in a low key manner. Nothing magical or overblown, no special powers or uncharacteristic moments of brilliance used as tools merely to advance the plot or solve a sticky wicket.
The one part that may hold a bit of that rushed feeling is the ending. On the flipside, if you’ve lost and been without nearly everything and everyone that once meant your world, and you’re sort of suddenly presented with a chance to get much of it back, it’s not just distrust and caution ruling the day. Hope finds a way.
I really enjoyed this and am looking forward to the next books in the series, which looks to center around some of the supporting characters here getting their full time on stage.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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