Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4 Stars
Buy Links: Dreamspinner
Type: Standalone Novel
Received from Publisher
Review: Caden’s not sure why he goes to bars with his friend Bobby. And he’s not really sure why they’re friends. Bobby is a shallow jerk who treats Caden like crap and has the morals of an alley cat. And he’ll only sleep with the hottest men out there. His attitude makes Caden feel very self-conscious about liking his men a little stockier, like a football player or the ‘bear’ type. Caden often feels out-of-place in the meat market “jungle” atmosphere of the gay club scene, where you’re frequently judged solely by your looks. He likes to go to older clubs off the beaten path, where there’s less chance of meeting someone on the make and more chance of meeting someone genuine. Someone who wants a relationship based on who you are instead of how you you look.
When Caden first sees Kevin at the poseur bar, he stands out because he’s not just a pretty face. He looks normal; stocky, bearded and dressed casually. And Caden is instantly attracted. After an awkward encounter in the bathroom, though, he’s afraid he’s ruined his chances, so he leaves and goes to another bar. When a kooky bungled hookup with another man leaves him going home alone on the train at 3 in the morning, Caden runs into Kevin again, and this time it works.
Kevin has always been a little overweight, which makes him very insecure in relationships. That’s why he’s always been drawn to work with animals. They don’t judge based on appearance. When he meets and hooks up with Caden, his first concern is that Caden is using him as a last resort. That he’ll never hear from him again. The next afternoon after work, he calls Caden and is thrilled to get the opposite response. Caden is excited to hear from him again and wants to meet up that night as planned. But Kevin is floored. Why would such a god want to be with him?
Caden has insecurities and doubts as well about meeting someone to be with forever. He’s thin and exercises because his father died early of a heart attack and he doesn’t want to. But he isn’t obsessed with how he looks and is put off by those who are — like Bobby. He finds them plastic. He really likes heavier men, but sometimes worries that he should try to figure out why. Does that mean there’s something wrong with him? So he never confides in Kevin about why exactly he was so attracted to him initially, which leaves Kevin in the dark and feeling insecure.
This was a love story with all the classic elements. Two people who seem lost and lonely in their own worlds. Both are wounded and have insecurities about their looks and their ability to meet and find someone to have a long-term relationship with. When Caden is called out of town for a family emergency just as their second date is winding down, it doesn’t take long for doubts to creep in. Both men wonder if the short time they had together is enough to keep them going through the month-long separation while Caden takes care of his sick mother.
Unfortunately, they were right to worry about one thing — the inability to communicate about their insecurities as well as their feelings. While they grew to know each other better through letters, phone calls and messages on social media, it also allowed Kevin to keep a big something from Caden. Something he wouldn’t like at all. Something that was going to come between them.
Enter Caden’s friend Bobby. Spiteful, jealous Bobby. Completely self-centered, not concerned about taking someone away from his best friend if he wants him–in fact it makes it better. He notices a slimmed-down, shaped up Kevin at the gym and starts pursuing him–not realizing that this is Caden’s boyfriend. Kevin doesn’t bite, but when Caden returns and their reunion doesn’t go as planned, Bobby sees an opening and rushes in to take it. And he’s figured out who Kevin is from hearing Caden’s side of the story, but he really doesn’t care. In fact, he’s doing everything he can to make sure the two of them don’t get back together — ever.
I enjoyed this story a lot. I really felt for both of the main characters and hoped that they got their HEA. There were some unfortunate editing issues that marred what would have otherwise been a pleasant read. Thanks very much, looking forward to the next book by this author!