Cal McCorkle has lived in Bluewater Bay his whole life. He works two jobs to support a brother with a laundry list of psychiatric diagnoses and a great uncle with Alzheimer’s, and his personal life amounts to impersonal hookups with his boss. He’s got no time, no ambition, and no hope. All he has is family, and they’re killing him one responsibility at a time.
Avery Kennedy left Los Angeles, his family, and his sleazy boyfriend to attend a Wolf’s Landing convention, and he has no plans to return. But when he finds himself broke and car-less in Bluewater Bay, he’s worried he’ll have to slink home with his tail between his legs. Then Cal McCorkle rides to his rescue, and his urge to run away dies a quick death.
Avery may seem helpless at first, but he can charm Cal’s fractious brother, so Cal can pretty much forgive him anything. Even being adorkable. And giving him hope. But Cal can only promise Avery “until we can’t”—and the cost of changing that to “until forever” might be too high, however much they both want it.
Reading this book is like plowing a field. It takes WORK and tears. The beginning is difficult, melancholy. And it takes a while to reap the rewards.
Cal and Avery meet at 23 percent when Cal picks up Avery on the side of the road in the rain. Avery's car breaks down just when he gets the courage to leave his cheating, manipulative boyfriend and set out on a new path. Step one: Bluewater Bay and the Wolf's Landing convention.
That's just Avery's luck. Avery, who's a freelance journalist and writer, wears thick glasses, is long and skinny, and has crazy, curly hair. His handle is Scarecrow because he looks a bit like one. Avery knows he's not the best looking guy, so he puts up with a lot of shit.
Cal likes the dorky, sweet guy he takes into town. He calls Avery "Rescue Puppy." There's just something vulnerable about Avery, and Cal is a caretaker.
Cal takes care of his great-uncle Nascha, who's in the early throes of Alzheimer disease, and his younger brother Keir, who has Aperger, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and a plethora of other mental issues.
Keir needs structure and routine, and Cal tries, really tries, but Keir is so much more than he can handle. Keir is physically strong, prone to violence, and angry all the time. He thinks women, especially younger ones, are out to get him. Sometimes Cal has to sedate Keir and use restraints to keep him in bed.
Cal doesn't think he can have anything good. He buses tables and fishes in his father's boat. He's proud, stubborn, and works his ass off just to keep his family afloat. Cal doesn't have time for relationships or love.
Avery falls for Cal swiftly and furiously. And when Cal gives in, they build something beautiful, tentative and new, but REAL.
"Is it always this way for you?" Avery asked, feeling a little sad.
This had been a revelation for him—sex that consumed you, made you fearless and stupid, made you almost confess things you shouldn't feel yet.
"No," Cal whispered. "No. Haven't had sex like this in my whole life."
"Thank God," Avery murmured.
Thank all the gods for Cal's great-uncle Nascha, wonderful Nascha, who still has many clear moments, especially when he doesn't skip his meds. Nascha wants Cal to fly.
We first meet Nascha as a young, impulsive man in Nascha, Lane's short story published in the Bluewater Bay Valentine's Day anthology, Lights, Camera, Cupid. In that story, we see Cal sick and passed out on the couch. That scene appears in this book, and we know that Cal is sick because his leg got infected after he wrestled with a 400-pound fish.
We now get a glimpse of Nascha, loyal, loving, fierce Nascha, through Cal's eyes. This book brings the short story full circle.
Slowly, ever so slowly, the fog lifts. We can see the joy ahead, even if Cal can't see it, doesn't WANT to see it.
What I'm trying to say in not so few words is that THIS BOOK IS SO WORTH READING.
Yes, there's sadness and a sense of hopelessness, but there's HAPPINESS too, two men trusting each other. Loving each other. SAVING each other.When the HEA comes, you'll feel it in your gut. After all, the things most worth having aren't always easily earned.
Avery nodded ... staring into Cal's eyes and realizing he meant every word about forever.
"It's like this place. And you. It's magic."
Cal shook his head. "It's not magic. It's you, Rescue Puppy."
... "I'm still Rescue Puppy?"
"Oh yeah." Cal nuzzled his ear. "'Cause you rescued me."