Author: Rowan McAllister
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4 Stars
Type: Standalone Novel
Received From Publisher
Blurb: When Nathan Seward wakes up in a cheap hotel with a stranger, unable to remember the night before, unscrupulous plots and clandestine schemes are the furthest thing from his mind. True, he’s in Houston to bid on his biggest contract yet, one that will put his software development company on the map, but he’s the underdog at the table, not one of the big players. Unfortunately someone out there sees him as a threat and isn’t above drugging and blackmailing him to put him out of the running. Luckily for Nathan, the man in bed next to him couldn’t be further removed from the corporate world.
Tim Conrad is scraping the bottom of the barrel. He left college during his freshman year to take care of his dying mother, and life and lack of money prevented him going back. Now twenty-seven, his dreams are long buried, and he’s scraping by with dead-end jobs and couch surfing because he can’t afford a place of his own.
As Nathan tries to run damage control and figure out what the hell happened to him, he and Tim discover a connection neither was looking for, as well as dreams they’ve both forgotten.
Review: I’ve read romance forever, and having dipped my toe in with books about menage over the years, I’ve started reading m/m books over the last two years. And I’m happy to say this latest from Rowan McAllister was both a delightful romance with a little suspense/business espionage thrown in on the side.
Nathan, or Nate, is an upwardly mobile tech professional visiting Houston to make a Monday morning presentation for a business contract that would move his software company forward substantially. However, he’s up against several other companies that aren’t willing to play by the rules, and they’ve got plans to knock him out of the running. Going out for a meal and a drink at the hotel Friday night ends with him waking up Saturday morning next to a stranger in a nondescript hotel room. And he has no clue about how he’s gotten there. And surprise twist — he was expecting a woman to come out of those tangled sheets — not a guy. Not Tim.
Tim is just scraping by in life. Working two dead-end retail jobs, he has really given up on finding his dream and has settled for just getting by. Every time he thinks he may have scraped up enough cash to get an apartment of his own and off his friend’s couch, an emergency takes away his options and again leaves him on the short end. Things with his remaining family aren’t great – his alcoholic dad’s health is on the downhill slide, and he and his aunt are all that are keeping Dad stable. The year he spent in college only netted him loans he is desperately trying to pay off. So when he runs into an attractive stranger in a club and they hit it off, he’s ecstatic. Maybe there is something more for him? A night of intimate talk plus hot sex may have him believing in dreams again.
The morning after turns into a true awakening for Nate. How did he get there? And wow! While Tim is hot, why did he end up with a man? Sure, he was bi-curious–especially in college–but in his later years he’d mainly dated women. Why the sudden change? And why can’t he remember any of the previous night after dinner? And while he’s really attracted to Tim, is he part of what may be a plot to make him and his company back away from the negotiating table? Why else would this weird scene be happening?
Tim is also a little taken aback by the cool reception he gets from Nate in the morning. After the intimacy of the night before, he’d expected something different. Maybe plans to meet again. Not the remote, taciturn Nate. The suspicious Nate.
After finding out that he was drugged, Nate sets out to play investigator–much against his friend James’ advice. Tim, eager to help prove his innocence and somehow find out if the feelings he has for Nate are reciprocated, becomes involved in the chase to find the instigators of the drugging and the rest of the plot plays out against the background of Houston and the gay club scene.
This story has all the makings of a romantic suspense novel of any genre. I actually think that this is the closest to one of the great hetero romantic suspense novels I’ve read through the years, much like a Jill Shalvis or a Stephanie Bond. Nothing gratuitous. Nothing that made it “gay lit.” Only difference? This one featured two male characters as the romantic leads. And I think that is awesome. I like being able to say with complete sincerity that this is a good romantic suspense and not have to add, “oh yea, it’s m/m.” Because it is just a good book!
It was well written, the characters were nicely developed, and the relationship realistic if a bit quick. But we’re talking a romance! The dilemma was tangible–could these two opposites make it work? Would they save the deal? What did Nate need to realize to make this work? What did Tim need to let go so that he could be free to dream again?
I would have liked more on the suspense, especially the denouement, and more development of Nate’s character – those are minor things. Otherwise, she’s got the writing thing down! Thanks for a great read!