No bank is going to give a nomadic thrill seeker a loan, even if Tom Flynn wants to develop and run a retreat for disabled kids. Good thing he’s finally old enough to pull from his trust fund. However, it would mean settling down—because accessing the money requires him to be married—so he asks his best friend, Luke, to marry him.
Luke Marten’s goal is simple: don’t go on one more crazy adventure with Tom. Knowing how successful he has been in the past, Luke has a backup plan: don’t fall in love. He's a goner when Tom not only proposes but confesses to one seriously hot kink.
For their friendship to survive this marriage, they’ll need to face DOMA, conservative judges, and long-held beliefs about each other. Talk about getting caught by the short hairs.
I'm an enthusiastic fan of the arranged marriage trope and don't think we get enough of it in the M/M romance genre. For this reason, I gave this book a chance, even though this is a new-to-me author.
Unfortunately, Amberly Smith's writing style decidedly did not work for me. It was at once choppy and detached, frantic with frequent POV switches, heavy with asides and unnecessary details, and awkward, like a sweater that doesn't quite fit.
I was so disconnected from this story I couldn't keep the two MCs, Luke and Tom, straight. This is supposed to be a BFFs-to-lovers story, but we never see Luke and Tom being buddies. The book starts at the stilted faux proposal.
Later we find out that Tom has been lying to Luke for years, letting Luke believe he's straight when he's bi. Cause that's what best friend do. Obviously.
The angst here skims the surface and feels manufactured. Tom doesn't think he has enough "gay sex" experience for Luke, and Luke doesn't think he's ... good enough for Tom? I think. Maybe. I'm not sure what Luke was on about honestly.
The move from "hey, let's do this so I can get my trust money out to buy this land" to "oooh, we're together and fucking" is lighting fast. There is no slow buildup and no particular chemistry. Tom is a complete douche at the end, literally leaving Luke behind when Luke dares to mention that Tom is a pushover (which he is).
We also get a side story about an old(er) dude (Tom's friend) and his young(er) Mormon bride. The chic runs away, and Tom goes after her and meets her parents. And ... Why? Why is this side plot even included?
We don't have enough plot or character development as is, and then there's this runaway bride and a bizarre fight leading to a separation leading to ... yeah, not hard to figure out.
There are enough smexy times and a sweet (if predictable) HEA, but overall I did not click with the author's writing style and found the story to be frustrating and rushed.