A Winter Ball Novel
As far as Clay Carpenter is concerned, his abusive relationship with food is the best thing he’s got going. When a good friend starts kicking his ass into gear, Clay is forced to reexamine everything he learned about food and love—and that’s right when he meets troubled graduate student, Dane Hayes.
Dane Hayes doesn’t do the whole monogamy thing, but the minute he meets Clay Carpenter, he’s doing the friend thing in spades. The snarky, scruffy bastard not only gets Dane's wacky sense of humor, he also accepts the things Dane can’t control—like the bipolar disorder Dane has been trying to manage for the past six years.
Dane is hoping for more than friendship, and Clay is looking at him with longing that isn't platonic. They’re both positive they’re bad at relationships, but with the help of forbidden desserts and new medication regimens, they prove outstanding at being with each other. But can they turn their friendship into the love neither of them has dared to hope for?
You know how sometimes you feel like you'll just die if you don't get a follow-up story for a previous side character? And sometimes, you just... don't?
Well, this was kinda the latter for me.
In the previous books, Clay seemed like a nice enough guy, but he was sort of the green bean casserole at Thanksgiving dinner for me. Sure, he was 'there', but he didn't end up taking up much space on my interest plate.
However, as this story began, I didn't actually like him very much. He was unhappy, ate his feelings, and didn't seem to want to take much ownership in the situation where he had actively put himself. I mean, two degrees in fields in which he had no interest? Dude. Really? No wonder you're miserable.
Dane's character was much more fun and likeable. Even if he was prone to severe mood swings, due to his bipolar diagnosis, at least he was trying to be happy and putting in the work to improve his overall satisfaction with life.
I did like how the MC's were able to mellow one another out and be happier together than apart, no matter what life threw their way, which was quite a bit.
The drama here came on two fronts, First, from Dane and his chosen family helping him get to a good place with his mental illness, then second in the form of Clay's pretentious, judgy family.
My favorite part of the story was where Dane called out Clay's "perfect", can-do-no-wrong sister and her kids. I wanted to be a fly on that wall so bad. : )
But overall, the story didn't totally excite me and I wasn't sad to finish it, so I'd rate it at around 3.25 stars.
As a side note, I really was hoping to see Clay reconnect with his estranged, childhood friend, Jordyn, only as friends, because that unresolved hurt kept bugging me like a stray cookie crumb stuck in Clay's beard. Oh well, missed opportunity felt missed.
My ARC copy of the book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.
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