Author: Diana Copland
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 3 stars
Type: Novel in a Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Cute hipster and interior designer Michael doesn’t do love—not after his ex screwed him over. Sex is a different story, though, and the gentle giant who’s painting the mural in the old mansion they’re restoring might be perfect hookup material. Gil is just Michael’s type with his solid muscle, wicked sense of humor, and the hazel eyes that seem to see into Michael’s soul.
Trouble is, Gil does do love. He wants romance and forever, and he’s set his sights firmly on Michael. Michael’s not going there again.
Yet when Michael is the victim of a vandal who’s been plaguing the men working for Delta Restoration, Renovation, and Design, Gil is the first person he tells. No matter how he fights it, it’s becoming harder and harder to deny he’s crazy about the guy—even if that thought terrifies him. But the true fear sets in when the criminal behavior escalates, and Michael realizes he might have lost the chance to tell Gil how he feels—forever.
Review: This is the second book in a series. I highly recommend reading them in order.
Given that I loved the first book in this series – David, Renewed – I couldn’t wait to pick this one up. While many elements of the story were pleasing, I found myself having a hard time with Michael’s attitude and interactions involving Gil.
We first met Michael in David, Renewed and I really liked him there. He was a seemingly confident, sassy, hip guy and was also a wonderful friend to David. The latter three attributes hold true in this story. In the first book, the set up was already on for Michael and Gil – one of Jackson’s friends – to develop a mutual attraction. As this book unfolds, Michael and Gil have a history of flirting, if you can call it that. Michael runs into Gil regularly as a design consultant to Delta Construction, Repairs, & Restorations, which is the company Jackson, Gil and several other gay men have launched. While Michael definitely finds the large, well-muscled Gil attractive, he’s not into dating or a relationship. Gil is interested in a relationship – with Michael – and he’s persistent in letting Michael know it. Oh, Gil’s completely a big softie and does nothing out of line, but he’s always using pet names and innuendo – and in front of the rest of the guys no less, who are happy to chime in. Michael never shuts this down, in fact he fires back with taunts of his own, while fending off David’s gentle nudges towards giving Gil a chance.
This sort of behavior was making me uncomfortable. It seemed over the top especially in light of the fact that Michael and Gil barely knew anything about each other, and they did work together occasionally. I ascribe my feelings primarily to Michael’s behavior. He would have been fine hooking up with Gil, but knew Gil wanted more. He could have shut Gil down completely but instead sort of played along and seemed to be playing hard to get. And then once he let himself be “gotten,” he went right back to being standoffish. Grrr! At this point I wasn’t sure why Gil kept bothering. It was difficult to discern exactly why Michael kept Gil at arm’s length. He never even gave himself a chance to get to know the guy, which seemed extremely odd once I found out specifically why Michael had trust issues. I was irritated that the reader didn’t get to find out exactly how his ex-boyfriend screwed him over until quite near the end of the story. I could see why Michael wouldn’t go around telling people, but was perplexed at why the reader shouldn’t have known. Had I known sooner, my perception of Michael may well have been more favorable, more symphathetic.
Despite some of the back-and-forth previously mentioned, I really took to Gil. He seemed like a real open guy, yet also had a depth to him that he didn’t wear on his sleeve. As the bigoted vandal that was targeting Jackson, David and the guys upped his game, Gil was right there being protector and comfort to Michael. When Michael was compelled by circumstances to discover Gils’ depth, the details about Gil blew me away. Yeah, stereotyping is something Michael did to the big man, though this is not why he kept him at arm’s length.
I loved that David and Jackson were prominently featured in this book. Their story progression was quite pleasing, both personally and professionally. It was nice to see the Delta Construction Company taking off and landing a big job. The sense of camaraderie and family among the men was important, and nice to see. The details of the historic home they were restoring in this book are stunning. I’m betting the next book will be about Manny.
The suspense surrounding the escalating violent acts by a vandal/stalker – a carryover from the first book in the series -provided chilling external conflict and an edge of mystery. It also helped drive Michael, and the romance between him and Gil, to a believable turning point. I wish it hadn’t taken what it did to get Michael to walk through his self-imposed emotional wall and truly see Gil, but it was satisfying when it happened. I’m counting on Michael winning me over in the next book, because I wasn’t quite there when this one ended.