Months after his husband’s death, Garrett Blaine desperately needs a fresh start. He sells his house in Seattle, leaves his accounting job, and starts bartending in Bluewater Bay. There he meets a man who wakes up his nearly forgotten libido.
Jesse Connelly’s friend with benefits bolted after Jesse disclosed his HIV status. Stood up and stinging, Jesse tries to drown his sorrows . . . and finds an unexpected connection with a lonely bartender.
Jesse and Garrett quickly bond over a shared love of comics and card games, and they can’t get enough of each other between the sheets. Not even a bumpy start and a fifteen-year age gap can derail them as they go from strangers to lovers, then friends, then much more.
But as Garrett’s feelings for Jesse deepen, so does his grief for the man he lost—especially as he sees hints of his late husband in his new boyfriend. Now Garrett has to figure out if Jesse is his second chance at true love, or if Jesse’s just filling in for the man he’s never fully grieved. And he needs to figure it out soon, because Jesse’s starting to wonder the same thing.
New Hand is LA Witt's last book in the Bluewater Bay series. All of the Bluewater Bay books can be read as standalone, so if you're new to the series, don't be daunted by the fact that New Hand is book 23. I haven't read them all, either. You will see some character crossover, but it is minimal, for the most part and very well explained.
Jesse Connelly is young and lives life out-loud. He's never even seen the inside of a closet, as far as his sexuality goes and he's strong enough to deal with whatever comes his way. He kind of has to be, considering that even with today's medical advances, not everyone takes the fact that Jesse is HIV+ in stride. He's on medication and is undetectable, but plenty of people still think he's toxic. So, even though rejection hurts, he keeps his chin up and lives his life on his terms. He is also the geekiest of geeks. He works in a comic shop and games and goes to cons. I kind of love that.
Garrett Blaine is older, and is grieving the loss of his husband. He sold his house, left his career, and his family and in-laws and moved to Bluewater Bay to get away so he could try for a fresh start without all the memories plaguing him at every turn. It was a move of desperation, for sure, but it was also one he needed. His best friend lives in Bluewater Bay, so he has his support system and he hopes that someday he can learn to live again.
New Hand is a story of new beginnings. Of getting a second chance at love and life. Of finding that other person to fill a void you didn't even know you had.
While I definitely enjoyed the story and my time in this quirky little town, I did think it was a touch too long. The descriptions of playing Magic the Gathering - which I used to play back when it came out (and I had a 1st edition black lotus that I dearly wish I still had!) - I found myself skimming through. Also, the in-law-family drama was overly predictable and felt a bit contrived.
But even with those couple things, I did really enjoy Jesse and Garrett and their journey to finding love and acceptance with each other. They geeked out a lot, and I often enjoy that and I loved their sexytimes -- I've said it before, and I will happily say it again, LA Witt write sex like no one else. Her scenes are hot and feel real. I love that. I also loved their dynamic. It wasn't stereotypical, at all, and I very much appreciated that.
I'm certainly sad to see this series go, I've enjoyed it immensely. Now I need to go back and read the ones I missed because I don't think I am quite ready to say goodbye to Bluewater Bay.
ARC of New Hand was generously provided by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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