How much heartache can one man take before he breaks? Rich Langston asks himself that question every day.
A Seattle advertising exec who uses his designer suit and showy car like a suit of armor, Rich refuses to let the world get to him. His traumatic childhood has ruined any faith he had in people, friendship, and love. After a meltdown that led to him alienating everyone in his life, Rich agrees to help with the restoration of an antique sailboat as a form of penance.
Roped into heading up with the boat repair by his mother, marine restorer Patrick O’Dowd finds himself having to babysit a moody, spoiled rich boy with absolutely no carpentry experience. His easy-going nature is sorely tested, but he quickly realizes that things are not always what they seem; sometimes a fancy suit is nothing but an elaborate deflection from what’s real.
Through unavoidable personality clashes and fierce attraction, both Rich and Patrick explore their hidden pain and inner demons, and they end up finding with what really matters—love.
I did not read the first book in this series, but Love and the Real Boy worked okay as a standalone. Perhaps I would have had less sympathy for Rich had I witnessed his horrible behavior at his best friend Rory's wedding, but since I didn't read book 1, my heart went out to Rich in his self-imposed cocoon of loneliness.
I liked the mild enemies-to-loves trope and the way Rich accidentally outed himself (I saw it coming, but it was still pretty cute if not entirely realistic). I also liked Patrick with his Irish brogue and rough, sexy ways.
Perhaps the MCs jumped into sex too quickly, but the love didn't feel instant. Both men had to work through issues to get to a place where they could trust and love. Rich, particularly, had to crack open his shell and allow himself to feel vulnerable. Rich's troubled childhood was dealt with fairly well, and I loved that he found family at last.
Patrick's PTSD with sailing was resolved less successfully. I'm not sure the family drama with Patrick's brother was even necessary, but I did like Patrick's loud Irish family.
There were enough sexy moments to keep it interesting, and the last couple chapters were romantic and sweet. This wasn't a standout book, but the story was well paced and definitely kept my interest.