Twenty-two-year-old Alessandro Silva knows that returning to tiny Perch Creek to help his foster mother was the right thing to do. With no degree and a delinquent's reputation, he's lucky to have landed a job waiting tables. But not everyone is happy he's back, and the only thing keeping his move home from being a total bust is his boss's hot brother.
Jaime Winters spent most of his life watching the world go by, first from a series of hospitals and then from behind big stacks of textbooks. Studying is easier than facing the fact that years of heart failure means he's still a virgin at twenty-three. Until the new waiter in his sister's diner awakens desires he'd long ago given up on.
The last thing Alessandro wants is to fall for someone as fragile as Jaime. And Jaime may have a new heart, but he's scared of what giving it to another person would mean. Their no-strings-attached, instructional approach to sex keeps emotion safely at bay, until a secret from Alessandro's past forces them to confront their feelings in the present...
Solid, if somewhat predictable, plot line with crisp, organic, yet detailed writing. The cover is misleading - neither of the young men is white or blond and blue-eyed - and I really wish that the cover artist had chosen models that more genuinely reflect the looks of the protagonists.
The story flowed well, detailed but not bogged down with them, and the dialogue felt realistic. I liked the various themes the author picked up for her novel - family, foster care, long-term illness, losing one's V-card, sexual experimentation, homophobia, small town politics - and used them to make a nicely rounded novel that doesn't completely fall into the cliche traps and somehow, despite the number of themes, avoided theme overload. It was all nicely meshed and interwoven.
I liked that the women in this novel were varied and realistic, though the villain, as expected, stayed one-dimensional. He's the typical small-town asshole who thinks he can get away with anything, and is not above buying someone's silence. There's a hint or ten towards the end that the villain is exhibiting learned behavior, but that is still no excuse for being an asshole. People can and do change if and when they chose to do so.
I liked that there were repeated hints and explanations going back into Alessandro's youth, and his behavior, which helped to show the growth his character has gone through. And I liked that Jaime found his sea legs, so to speak.
The boysecksing was well done too, descriptive, sensual and emotional, and the scenes in and after the club - woohoo, hawtness and sensuality galore.
While the novel ventures into the trope of 'I'm not good enough for you', I am glad that the author chose to not let Alessandro pull an "I'm leaving you for your own good." That cliche has been overused and I was glad for not seeing it here.
Overall, a nice novel with which to spend a few hours curled up in your favorite chair. It's not earth-shattering or life-changing, but I didn't expect that anyway.
** I received a free ARC from the author. A positive review was not promised in return. **
Expected publication February 17th, 2014 from Carina Press.
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