A nice friends-to-lovers story.
** This review has slight spoilers. **
-Review by Cindi
I am all about friends-to-lovers stories. I recently read another by this author (Just Ask) that I really enjoyed so I was eager to jump into this one. Look at that cover!
Gavin White has been living his own personal hell practically from birth. He grew up in a very abusive household which ultimately led him to drugs and alcohol. The death of his younger sister, Angela, pushed him over the edge. Not as far as his addictions are concerned as the loss actually forced him to become clean. It pushed him over the edge emotionally. He is an artist, an art teacher and a part-time lifeguard. His best friend since pre-school, Erik Clarke, has been the only constant in his life. Erik grew up completely opposite of the way that Gavin did. Erik's home growing up was like that of Leave it to Beaver... a loving set of parents who supported their children in all ways possible, even if they didn't agree with their choices. They never raised a hand in anger nor did they drink themselves into oblivion as Gavin's father did on a daily basis.
Erik has been in love with Gavin for as long as he can remember. He came out of the closet his senior year of high school while Gavin was screwing around with every female he came in contact with (including all of the cheerleaders of the football team of which he played). Erik never dreamed that Gavin would ever look at him the same way so he never had any hopes of taking the relationship beyond friendship. On the third anniversary of Angela's death, things start to change between the two friends. What starts out as Erik wanting to be there for his friend later turns into pretty graphic sex, blindfolds and mild bondage included (with Erik being the one tied up). Here lies a slight problem for me in regards to this book. It is stated quite clearly throughout the story that Erik and Gavin have been the closest of friends since pre-school. Erik spent his entire life believing that Gavin is straight. Suddenly not only is Gavin not straight, but he gets off on BDSM? And he's had a lot of experience with men? I had a hard time buying into that. I'm not saying it couldn't happen but it just seemed to go from one thing to something pretty hardcore rather quickly. So, is Gavin full-on gay or is he bi? I'm going to go with bi as he had obviously enjoyed his sexual exploits with females in the past.
This was an enjoyable read though I had a difficult time feeling the connection between the two characters. Somewhat unrealistic in more than one place but I did enjoy it. I liked all of the characters, both main and secondary. Erik is the ultimate friend who is willing to not just be there for his best friend but to walk away if necessary if that would help Gavin in the long run. The author did a good job bringing out the emotions of Gavin. A lot is not elaborated on as far as his childhood abuse but you get the gist of what he was forced to endure. Watching Erik show him that he was not, in fact, the person his horrible father convinced him that he was was a pleasure to read. Finally seeing Gavin admit his love for his friend was even better. The only real issue for me is that it states that they have been best friends for all these years but they come across as strangers in so many ways. Not just the quick about-face as far as Gavin's sexuality is concerned (to Erik anyway) but also in how the two men interact with each other. For them to be so close, they, at times, acted more like strangers and in the end really knew very little about each other. I believe I would have enjoyed this more had it been a little bit longer and the characters fleshed out a little more.