An angst-filled story about two straight men who become friends over a shared bottle. Later, they are shaken to the core when that friendship becomes much more.
This review contains slight spoilers.
This review contains slight spoilers.
-Review by Cindi
I apologize in advance for throwing in something personal in this review but I am unable to type this without doing so for reasons that will become clear. I was asked by a Goodreads friend, Steph, to read this book with her... as a buddy read. I don't do buddy reads often and the last one I did was several months ago (the Cut & Run series)... also with Steph. While I had been interested in this book in the past it was never placed on my 'to read' shelf because (as most know) I am not a fan of series that focus on one couple throughout. I decided to give it a shot. I'm glad I did actually because it was a good book. But it was a very difficult book for me to read for a variety of reasons.
Nothing could have prepared me for the prologue. Why? Not five minutes before I sat down to read this book on my Kindle, I had typed an email to my friend and blog partner, Kazza K. This message was personal and it was in regards to my late sister, Sherri, who we lost over three years ago. This was a loss that I did not handle well and that I continue to battle with to this day. At no point before starting this book was I made aware of the name of the main character's late wife... Sherri. Coincidence, sure, but a very strange one, especially considering how close to home the first few pages were for me. I admit to having to stop three pages in on my Kindle. I was not emotionally able to continue until much later that day and even then it was difficult. I persevered because I committed to read the book so I was determined to do so. I am glad I did.
The story was good. Seriously good. Two men who are both battling their own private hells become friends and then later that friendship turns into something that neither man is prepared for. They have to overcome a lot... mainly their own fears.. to finally get where they need to be.
This starts off with a very heart-wrenching prologue. Evan is about to bury his wife, Sherri, of almost twenty years. It describes them together before her death and there is even an off-page sex scene between the two. Three days after they make love, Sherri is killed in an accident. Evan is left alone with their four children. There are scenes at the funeral home that were heartbreaking and hit way too close to home for this reader. Evan and Sherri's marriage was a good one and they had remained extremely happy during all of it. They had the perfect life and they were raising their four children together. Then tragedy strikes and Evan is a single father with no idea of how he will be able to function much less how he will help his children to do so. He becomes a shell of his former self, as do his children.
Almost a year later, Evan meets Matt. Matt is a disgraced former homicide detective who goes to his former coworker's retirement send-off at a local bar. Evan and Matt (after a bit of awkwardness for Matt being in the presence of his former coworkers) end up somewhat friendly and decide to meet sometime in the future for a beer. Matt is lonely. He has a job he hates. He has no family to speak of. No friends other than his former partner. The 'men in blue' turned against him when he turned in one of their own. His only relationships are one-night stands with total strangers. He's miserable. An instant friendship is born between Evan and Matt. Both are unhappy for different reasons but they click in kinship. Both men are straight and have never considered being with another man.... much less falling in love with one. Little do they know that life as they have always known it will soon be over. From friendship comes love. From love comes difficult choices for each man, mainly Evan. Evan lives in constant guilt over his wife's death even though he had nothing to do with it. Sherri's parents blame him. His children are lost without their mother. Then there is the fear of the relationship being discovered by Evan's coworkers, family and in-laws, most of which are not gay friendly.
This book had a lot of angst in it. I mentioned this being a difficult read. My reasons for saying that are obvious if you read what I said above but even had that not been the case, I still would have had a very hard time getting through it. There is very little happiness here. But had it been written as all flowers and roses the story never would have worked. Yes, Evan and Matt fall in love and they actually say the words to each other and not just on the final page of the book. Perhaps that is what should have warned me. The words are said early on. When that is the case, the rest of the book (in my reading experience) will be full of drama and angst. I was not wrong in that regard.
The secondary characters are written very well. Evan's children are written as typical children with real issues. His in-laws (Sherri's parents), while sympathetic to a fault, were absolutely horrible people in my opinion. Evan's female work partner is the perfect friend and her mother is a blast. There are others who also contribute to the story and are all integral to it.
Overall, a very enjoyable book with complex characters. This has a lot of angst and as I said, it was hard to read at times. That did not detract from my enjoyment of the story. Will I read the second book and those that follow? Certainly. But I feel the need to hold off a bit before doing so for personal reasons. The emotional scenes were a bit too much for me and I'm not sure I can handle another like this one anytime soon. It is excellently written and the author should be commended for writing such an emotional, real story. My first by this author. I look forward to reading more.
I love the cover. :)