Young lab scientist Olsen Westergard has worked long and hard to create order and stability in his life, and believes he’s finally content. But when he goes on a summer holiday trip with his friends, they try to rouse him from his customary caution, urging him to remedy his extended sexual dry spell. Their fumbled efforts to hook him up validate Olsen’s guess that he likely won’t meet the type of guy he’s looking for on this trip. Or rather, the type of guy he thinks he’s looking for.
But when a solo late night beach walk leads to a heated encounter with a drunken stranger, Olsen unexpectedly finds himself overwhelmed with turbulent desires—made worse when he later discovers the stranger’s surprising identity, and that ready or not, they’re about to get to know each other a whole lot better.
Where to begin, where to begin? Let me start by setting a bit of a scene.
Remember when you were head over heels for that one guy who just completely made your toes curl from a simple smirk?Well, then congratulations, you've had your very own 'Beck'.
Remember how he treated you like complete crap? Sometimes.
Remember how at other times, with just a look, you could light up his world? Just less often than you'd hoped.
Remember how he was both caring and careless? Sadly, in equal measure.
Remember how when he looked at you, you could barely breathe? Only to later realize that his actions were, at times, suffocating your very soul?
Remember how he was a complete and utter train wreck of an emotional mess? More often than not.
Remember how no matter what anyone said, not even your own inner voice of reason, could dissuade you from the gravity of his pull? Your own counter pull back.
There are plenty of reviews that will go through the highlights of the plot, as I normally do myself, but this book felt a bit different than most for me, so I'll leave you to other reviews for the plot rundown this time.
I'm sure that a lot of people became extremely frustrated with Beck's actions, but for some very strange reason, he just clicked for me from the start, with his mask to hide his deep, crippling pain.
When we first meet Beck, he's passed out drunk in the surf only to be found by the quiet and lonely Olsen, then proceeds to mischievously torment the younger man with his childish, frustrating and slightly manic antics.
But when they next meet and Beck pretends not to know the young man he kissed late the night before, I highly suspected that Olsen had somehow gotten his hooks into Beck, although he desperately tried to deny it.
For me, when Olsen's heart was quietly in pursuit of Beck's, there was a subtlety to the story that told me Beck had already lost this game of cat and mouse. And he knew it.
What I really enjoyed about the book was the complete honesty in Beck's words, the ones that were actually voiced, as he let Olsen know that his life was in shambles and he honestly didn't have it in him emotionally to be the person that Olsen needed.
So no, I was never pissed at Beck, only saddened by what I knew had been some soul killing event that he'd only barely survived by acid washing away the person that he'd been before, in order to become the person he had to be to move forward at all.
Fortunately though, Olsen was persistent, which paid off for them both in the end. He also saw past the pretty mask and the games, to something worth excavating beneath all of the rubble of Beck's past.
The story was as equally touching as it was heartbreaking, especially the scene where Olsen agreed to "pretend". I'd read the book for that very powerful chapter alone.
I should also mention that the book is full of steam and the primary way that Beck and Olsen begin to connect. First physically and then by slowly beginning to tear down very rigid emotional walls, one small brick at a time.
My only criticism of the book would be that I felt the level of banter could have been kicked up a notch or two, so I would have loved to have seen a bit more of that.
So a very solid 4.25 *pretend-until-you're-strong-enough* stars for this unique, very worthwhile read for me.
This was my copy of the book and not provided by the publisher.
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