For Ryan Sanders, the Paige Community Center is more than a place where he teaches at-risk teens about musical theater. He found a sense of belonging there during one of the hardest times of his life. With the center facing a financial crisis, he’ll do whatever it takes to keep the doors open—even soliciting fundraiser donations from Langley-Quartermaine Financial.
Adam Langley has a plan: survive an internship at his father’s company, finish college, get his trust fund, and find his former high school best friend Ryan and beg his forgiveness. In that order, because if Ryan does forgive him, Adam believes he’ll finally find the courage to come out to his wealthy, bigoted father.
Adam’s carefully considered plan is shattered when Ryan appears at the office a full ten months before Adam is ready, and Ryan is just as stunned. Against his better judgment, Adam gets involved with the fundraiser—and Ryan. Old feelings won’t be denied, and as Ryan and Adam reconnect, they realize neither knows the entire truth about the horrific night three years earlier that tore their friendship apart.
The blurb summarizes the book quite nicely. Ryan and Adam were friends, then more, and then something horrible happened to tear them apart. Adam does not remember it, and Ryan realizes that he doesn't have all the details either.
This was an excellent story about two young men who are given a second chance, who have to learn to stand up for themselves and each other, and who find it hard to trust each other again.
There is growth in this book for both Ryan and Adam, and they learn about each other and themselves as the book progresses. Adam especially is fighting a battle on his end against his father and his father's life plan for Adam.
What bothered me a little bit is how quickly Adam and Ryan get over their animosity, but the author gave a good explanation for what separated them, and once the truth was out, or most of it, the two men find common ground and quickly resuscitate their feelings for each other.
What also bothered me is that Adam forges ahead in his pursuit of Ryan without thinking of the consequences if he cannot make a stand against his father. He even says so in the book, and it angered me that he would do this, insert himself back into Ryan's life, without knowing whether he could make good on his plans.
Ryan still suffers from anxiety and fear because of what happened to him and Adam three years ago, and it takes him a bit of time to be completely honest with Adam about that night. When he does though, it's a great moment, and it bonds them even closer, as it rids them both of a lot of anger they've been holding on to.
For two men in their very early 20s, I think the author did a great job bringing their voices across. In some situations, Adam is impetuous, as one would perhaps expect from a 20 year old who's grown up in privilege, but I also saw the wounded boy inside that couldn't ever please his father, no matter how hard he tried.
As for Ryan, his parents were super awesome and supportive, but also worried how being with Adam again would play out. Ryan's female friend also plays a big role, seeing the affect Adam still has on Ryan, and then helping him and Adam get it right, with advice, a supporting shoulder and a listening ear.
I liked the two differing POVs, and the author did a nice job separating the two voices, making them sound very distinct and different. There was no problem knowing who was talking at any given time.
And I really like the inclusion of the musical, which serves as a reminder of their past, but also gives them hope for their future. Nicely done, new to me author. I'll be checking out more books by A.M. Arthur for sure.
A free copy of this book was provided by the publisher. A positive review was not promised in return.
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