Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: April 10, 2017
Received From: NetGalley
Thirty-seven-year-old Nate Albano’s second relationship ever ended three years ago, and since he’s grace—gray asexual—he doesn’t anticipate beating the odds to find a third. Still, he’s got his dog, his hobbies, and his job as a special effects technician on Wolf’s Landing, so he can’t complain—much.
Seth Larson, umpteenth generation Bluewater Bay, is the quintessential good-time guy, content with tending bar and being his grandmother’s handyman. The night they meet, Seth’s looking for some recreational sex to escape family drama. But for Nate, romantic attraction comes before sexual attraction, so while Seth thinks they’re hooking up, Nate just wants to talk . . . genealogy?
So they declare a “just friends” truce. Then Seth asks for Nate’s help investigating a sinister Larson family secret, and their feelings start edging way beyond platonic. But Nate may want more than Seth can give him, and Seth may not be able to leave his good-time image behind. Unless they can find a way to merge carefree with commitment, they could miss out on true love—the best time of all.
SEXUALITY: gray asexual, homosexual
TROPES: first love, friends to lovers, slow burn
TAGS: contemporary, adult, queer romance, family dynamics, history
WARNINGS: racism / racially insensitive phrasing, ableism, aphobia / acephobia, biphobia / panphobia, classism, misogyny, mention of cheating, mention of rape
Earlier today, just being with Nate had been enough for him. It gave him what he’d ached for most when they hadn’t been together–closeness. Intimacy. Being able to touch Nate whenever he wanted, even if it was just a hand on his arm or a kiss dropped on his cheek.
I wasn’t sure how to really rate this book because I have some mixed feelings about it. Ultimately, I ended up enjoying the overall story, but the first few chapters….wow. Yikes doesn’t even begin to cover it. There was some pretty rampant aphobia, which to be quite honest, I expect more often than not, but in a book where one of the main characters is on the ace spectrum? I was hoping it wouldn’t be so bad. It was pretty intense. Normally, the level of aphobia in these first few chapters would be enough to make me DNF a book. The only reasons I continued were 1.) because someone told me the story gets better, and 2.) I am starving for ace characters, so I wanted to see it through in the hopes that it did actually get better. It does, but that doesn’t negate the fact that there was harsh aphobia early on, hence my reluctance to rate the book highly.
Also, I 100% did not appreciate the fact that Nate, the gray-ace MC, was successfully convinced by his friend to apologize to Seth for “leading him on” the first night they met. Nate had nothing to apologize for. He does not need to expose himself and come out to every stranger on the street. He didn’t know this man from Adam, so he didn’t have to tell Seth anything, and it’s not Nate’s fault that Seth was reading innuendo into everything he was saying.
Once Nate and Seth had the conversation about asexuality, and Seth did some of his own research, I was able to unclench a little bit and let hope blossom regarding the rest of the book. And I wasn’t disappointed after that. The romance was a slow burn, as is fitting for a-spec people, and it was friends to lovers, which is a favorite of mine. I loved the historical aspects and how Nate and Seth worked together to research Seth’s family, both for personal interest and to help his grandma out of a difficult situation with her sons.
There was also a lot of character development in both main characters, as well as some of the side characters, which was really fun to watch even if I experienced secondhand embarrassment for some of it. Also, I loved watching their relationship develop from friendship to relationship. The progression of friendship to companionship and closeness to sexuality and intimacy was so beautiful, and it really resonated with me, as someone who is a-spec.
While I wish the aphobia didn’t exist, I am glad that I stuck with it because the book was an overall enjoyable read.
3.5 stars, rounded to 3
Catalyzed by her discovery of LGBTQ romance, Anne Tenino left the lucrative fields of art history, nonprofit fundraising, and domestic engineering (in that order) to follow her dream of become a starving romance author. For good or ill, her snarky, silly, quasi-British sense of humor came along for the ride.
Anne applies her particular blend of romance, comedy, and gay protagonists to contemporary, sci-fi, and paranormal tales. Her works have won many awards; her novel, Frat Boy and Toppy, is frequently referred to as a gay romance classic; she’s been featured in RT Book Reviews magazine; she holds the position of VP of Programming at her local RWA chapter; and she’s achieved bestseller status on Amazon’s gay romance list.
Born and raised in Oregon, Anne now lives in Portland with her family, who have all taken a sacred oath never to read her books. When not crocheting genitalia, growing tomatoes, driving teenagers around, or cooking something obscure, she can be found at her computer, procrastinating. Possibly while also lying on the couch, eating bonbons.
Connect with Anne:
- Website: annetenino.com
- Twitter: @AnneTenino
- Facebook: facebook.com//Anne-Tenino-Author
- Goodreads: goodreads.com/annetenino
E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.
E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.