Author: Eli Easton
Narrator: Tommy O’Brien
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: DSP
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Business tycoon Daniel Derenzo lives for his work until his dying father reminds him life is short. When Daniel starts to reevaluate his world he experiences a startling revelation—he’s attracted to his business partner and best friend, Nick, even though Daniel always believed himself to be straight. In typical type-A fashion, Daniel dissects his newfound desires with the help of the experts at the Expanded Horizons sex clinic. He goes after Nick with the fierce determination that’s won him many a business deal.
Nick Ross was in love with Daniel years ago, when they were roommates in college. But Daniel was straight and Nick patched his broken heart by marrying Marcia. Two kids and fourteen years later, they go through the motions of their marriage like ships passing in the night. But Nick’s kids mean the world to him, and he’s afraid he’ll never get joint custody if they divorced. If he can trust his heart to an awakening Daniel, they all might find their way to a happily ever after.
Review: This book is part of a series, but is completely enjoyable as a standalone.
I had read, and immensely enjoyed, this story before getting the audio version for review. As a huge audio fan, I was very pleased not only to hear the narrator bring these compelling characters convincingly to life, but add extra depth and emotion to them. Each character was voiced uniquely and his delivery was flawless. Wonderful work.
Daniel and Nick had been best friends ever since college. They also smoothly run an international acquisition firm, owned by Daniel. Eli Easton’s excellent writing especially shines in her characterizations. I was rooting for Nick and Daniel from the get go. Daniel is not the cliché corporate jerk. He is not portrayed as getting off on power or treating others badly, rather he is quite compassionate. Even though he ends up examining his station in life, he doesn’t require redemption. He is a workaholic, which may have helped lead to his divorce from his ex-wife several years earlier. Daniel is also determined to prove himself to his driven father. Nick is great at his job of re-organizing companies, but he’s also very easy going, devoted to his family, and invaluable to Daniel on all levels. What Nick doesn’t let others see is that his marriage is worse than dead. He is being held hostage emotionally by his wife, Marcia.
Daniel has always known Nick is bisexual. Nick had told him back in college. He suspects Nick had a crush on him at one point back then. What Daniel doesn’t expect is a sudden desire within himself to get closer to Nick. Yeah, that kind of closer! During a business trip to Hong Kong, Daniel has a lightning strike moment where he realizes he is sexually attracted to Nick. He wants more from Nick than friendship. Back home, he seeks the advice of sex counselor, Jack Halloran of Expanded Horizons. Halloran is a recurring character in this series, playing a crucial, yet fairly minor part here. Another major factor in Daniel’s willingness to explore his sexuality, is the news that his father is terminally ill. His father, whom Daniel was somewhat estranged from, gets to the nitty gritty with him. He advises him to look around, examine his life, make sure he is taking the time and effort to go after what will truly bring him happiness. This story delves into some heavy emotion, and even emotional abuse, yet it has a lot of levity too. Such as Daniel saying this to Halloran:
“I thought it was best to get some professional advice before I find myself on my knees in a restroom with some leather daddy telling me to bray like a donkey, yeah. So…is it possible to turn like that? Overnight?”
With Dr. Halloran’s encouragement, once Daniel is sure of what he wants- this would be Nick – he devises a plan and is a man on a mission. As he devises ways to find more time with Nick, and his kids Jenny and Sylvan, Daniel is both delighted and appalled at what he has been missing by not spending more time outside of work with Nick. The kids are amazing, smart, funny, and Sylvan in particular warms up very quickly to Daniel. Daniel is discovering more than his attraction to Nick, he’s discovering a hidden paternal instinct, and he likes it. What he doesn’t like is finding out details about how nasty and controlling Nick’s wife, Marcia, has been. I love how Daniel was able to arrange for everyone – he, his father, Nick and the kids – to be together at the summer cottage. It was plausible and provided the stage for the story, and Daniel and Nick’s relationship, to move to new levels. I felt as though I were a voyeur at the cottage, watching all of them interact and grow closer. There was a strong current here of building interpersonal relationships – father/son, father/child, friend/child, lover/lover – and not missing out on the most important things in life. Well done and lovely to read.
The sexual tension builds to crazy levels as the story progresses. Daniel is taking his time, not wanting to scare Nick off. Nick is unsure if he is reading Daniel correctly… Nick has dreamed of this type of relationship with him off and on for years. The pay- off is worth it as the two men burn up the pages when they do let go and act on their undeniable attraction. Nick had been frozen out by Marcia for years, not entirely caring after a while, certainly not daring to seek comfort in anyone else’s arms. He is starving for affection, for touch and glories in finding this with Daniel. Daniel! So much so, his joy let his guard down a bit, which leads to trouble. Marcia has to rank up there with the most vile book characters I’ve come across. When she finally threatens to divorce Nick and destroy him in the process, Daniel’s ultimate plan to take her down, with tacit permission from Nick, was executed with pure brilliance and cutthroat business tactics. Take that, bitch. Not sorry to say I found this a delicious comeuppance to the loathsome woman. I had a bit of an issue with Marcia’s eventual turn around, although it and her previous behavior were explained, it seemed quick within the confines of the story.
I very much appreciated the genuineness in Daniel’s realizations and explorations of his sexuality. There was no grand standing, no big denial. He took charge, sought help and information, embraced what he discovered and pursued what, and who, he wanted. Straightforward and refreshing. It would have been easy to label Nick as a wimpy pushover, based on his severe acquiescence to his wife. However, she was threatening things that would have made it very difficult to keep contact with his kids, who were the most important thing in the world to him. The kids were presented as fully fleshed out real individuals, complete with issues and flaws. Nick really was a strong and devoted father. I empathized strongly with him. Both Daniel and Nick displayed strong personal growth and strength of character on their way to being together. I was so happy they worked their way to each other once they realized they each felt the same. No ups and downs, no waffling.
A satisfying read on every level with a great HEA. Highly recommended as a read and on audio. This one is definitely on my re-read/re-listen short list.