Wednesday, April 1, 2015

ARC Review: Thirty Things by Cate Ashwood

All their lives, Finn and Nate have been inseparable, sharing everything, and when a childhood accident left Finn broken, Nate stood by his side as all his other friends left. After all their years together, there’s one secret Finn still hasn’t revealed: he has been in love with Nate since they were eight years old. Hiding his feelings for twenty-one years—terrified of what might happen if Nate ever found out—has been difficult, but losing his best friend would be worse than living with a bad case of unrequited love. Unfortunately for Finn, Nate doesn't make it easy.

Nate believes there are some things that just have to be done before your thirtieth birthday. As a gift to Finn, he plans an adventure to check off a list of thirty things to experience before hitting that milestone. Starting in Crawfordsville, Indiana, they tour the country, trying new things and meeting interesting new people. Nate’s having the time of his life, but he can tell Finn is holding something back. As the days count down, navigating the back roads suddenly seems easier than figuring out where their relationship is heading.

One thing’s for certain. There will be no turning back.

Dani's rating:

Thirty Things is a no angst, low tension, feel-good story about two 30-year-old men who have been best friends since childhood embarking on a month-long road trip.

Both Nate and Finn are self-employed, Nate as a writer and Finn as an editor. Nate is straight (he's slept with numerous women and always talked in detail about appreciating the female form), so Finn's yearning for Nate is seemingly a case of unrequited love.

When Finn was 8, an accident left him with crushed legs and pelvis. He walks with a limp and doesn't have much strength in his lower body. Nate has always been his rock and support.

The two men live together and share everything . . . Well, almost everything.

What I loved about this story is the overwhelming tenderness between the MCs. These guys have always been there for one another, and their friendship is solid.

Nate especially is so amazingly SWEET with Finn and plans the road trip as a birthday present for him.

The "thirty things" of the title refer to experiences that Nate wants to have with Finn; the men go bungee jumping, sleep under the stars, visit Vegas, and have other adventures.

Finn is the first-person narrator of the book, and he is a little whiny. He complains about doing anything out of his comfort zone, and Nate has to cajole him constantly to try.

I understand that Finn has been sheltered due to his disability, but his constant complaining wore on me as the book progressed.

The story has a slow, easy pace. We get a lot of Finn's introspection regarding his feelings for Nate.

Besides one small misunderstanding, which thankfully gets resolved quickly and maturely (these men know how to talk things out!), there is no real tension to the plot.

My main niggle is the way Nate's sexuality was handled. I assumed that Nate would turn out to be gay for Finn. However, at one point Nate states that he's always been gay or at least bi, but has only ever been attracted to one man: Finn. I can go with that, but I wanted to know more.

Why was Nate bringing home women and screwing them when the man he loved was in the room next door?

Considering how close the guys have always been and the fact that they have lived together since college, why did it take them so long to acknowledge their feelings for one another?

Once Nate and Finn kiss (around the 30 percent mark), I expected an explosion of passion, but the smexy scenes were a bit subdued for my tastes. There is sweetness in spades, but the oomph is missing.

Even so, I love the friends to lovers theme, and the connection between Nate and Finn was unmistakable.

Plus, the last envelope that Finn opens, the thirtieth "thing," had me smiling like a fool. What a perfect HEA!

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