“A character driven, second-chance romance. Recommended for anyone craving a low-angst, tender, contemporary story stuffed to the brim with feels and sweetness.” – Piper Vaughn
Publisher: Oceanside Press
Release Date: June 8, 2017
Received From: A Novel Take PR
Confronting the past is never easy.
Cole Whitaker is happy. He has the job and boyfriend he always wanted. His heart’s in no danger of being broken, and he can’t ask for more from life. As a kindergarten teacher, he sees it all; however, one troublesome student has him reaching out to the parent, wanting to help. There’s something about Savanah that tugs at his heartstrings.
He never expected her father.
Zander Brooks hasn’t had an easy life, and he’s made some mistakes. Freshly retired from the military and working as a firefighter, Zander thought he’d left Cole in the rearview mirror. He’s not expecting him to appear in St. Petersburg, Florida, of all places, teaching his daughter’s kindergarten class. Suddenly, his biggest mistake is being shoved in his face.
This is Zander’s chance to close a door he’d never fully shut, but time with his former flame might change his mind.
SEXUALITY: homosexual, bisexual
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: homoromantic, biromantic
TROPES: single parenthood, second chance romance, flashbacks
TAGS: adult, contemporary, romance, queer romance, queer characters, black character, POC character, interracial romance
WARNINGS: child abandonment, car accident, toxic masculinity, anti-fat phrasing, hospitalization, cissexism/anti-trans phrasing, anti-aro phrasing, anti-ace phrasing, hate crime mention, queer bashing, anti-queer, ableism, cheating mention, therapy, physical illness (cancer)
Second chance romances are always so fascinating to me, because I like to see what situations the author puts the characters in, both in the past and present, that makes them see a way to a new future together when they broke up once already. Sometimes they pull it off in a way that’s believable and has me cheering for the characters, while at other times, the author creates a situation that that’s pretty irredeemable and makes me wish the HEA/HFN won’t happen. Happily, Meg Harding lands in the first category with this book! I adored both characters, and I enjoyed watching them carefully circle around each other and their rekindled feelings until finally diving into the heat. Their past is revealed in a series of flashbacks, which allowed us to get a fuller grasp of their previous relationship, as well as provoking more emotional attachment and devastation that a mere recitation of events might’ve. As a result, we’re able to connect with the characters on a deeper level, and as I mentioned, are able to root more strongly for them. Because the problems of their past, while hurtful and upsetting, were not something that couldn’t be overcome as long as they were both willing, so I spent the whole novel stuck in a cycle of anticipation until they finally decided to try being together again. I wanted them to be happy together.
Both characters were really wonderful to read about separately, in addition to together. I loved seeing into Cole’s classroom and getting to see him interact with the animals he loves so much. As an animal lover myself, I really enjoyed the scenes where he just spends time with the animals and talks to them like people, because I do the same thing! With Zander, I enjoyed watching him come into himself, both as a parent and as an individual. He clearly does a lot of growing from the first page to the last, and the emotional development was perfect. He goes from someone who doesn’t make emotional connections for fear of losing the person later on, to someone who jumps into a relationship with both feet. It was lovely to see him realize that it’s okay to take that risk, even if it may hurt sometime down the road. Also, I enjoyed the bisexual rep in Zander. It was nice to see a character comfortable in their bisexuality and owning it in multiple different situations.
Additionally, I adored the character of Savannah and how both men interacted with her. They both cared about her so much and wanted to do what was best for her, in all ways. It was lovely to watch her from the scared, angry little girl acting out to one who is more comfortable and opens herself up to the people she cares about. Also, I liked that the epilogue was from her point of view, giving us a brief glimpse into how she’s grown, as well as how their family has developed together over the years.
Another thing that I enjoyed about the story was that there was no Big Misunderstanding in the present. The big dramatic moment was in their past and they were able to have a relationship at this time and place without an uproar. There’s one moment where Cole briefly thinks Zander might be about to break up with him, but it’s actually Zander confessing his feelings and it all ends up happy!
This book was really enjoyable to read, and I definitely recommend it!
Meg Harding is a graduate of UCF, and recently completed a masters program for Publishing in the UK. For as long as she can remember, writing has always been her passion, but she had an inability to ever actually finish anything. She’s immensely happy that her inability has fled and looks forward to where her mind will take her next. She’s a sucker for happy endings, the beach, and superheroes. In her dream life she owns a wildlife conservation and is surrounded by puppies. She’s a film buff, voracious reader, and a massive geek.
Now! If my review intrigued you and you want to see a bit more, scroll down just a bit further to read an excerpt and enter the giveaway at the end!
E X C E R P T :
What Cole had said while in the hospital was true—Zander was a good person when it came down to it. It might take him time, but Zander eventually came around to what was right. He’d never tolerated injustice, and he’d always tried his hardest. But he was a stubborn ass, and if he deemed something was in his way, it wasn’t going to be there for long.
Cole did not want to be the obstacle in Zander’s path again. One time was more than enough, thanks very much.
So, as Cole took the seat beside the bane of his existence, he tried not to think about the body heat Zander was generating. He told himself not to obsess over the way their legs were brushing through their jeans—unavoidable with the way Zander sprawled—and their shoulders knocked. Every minute shift of Zander’s body shouldn’t have pinged on Cole’s radar. The contact shouldn’t have left Cole holding his breath and reciting numeric tables in his head.
Zander’s presence created a tangible buzz under Cole’s skin, an awareness of the other man that was all consuming and completely absurd. Without consciously paying attention, Cole could tell anyone who asked that Zander had sighed twice since Cole had sat down, he’d scratched his stubbled jaw five times, licked his lips three, and he smelled like warm cinnamon and fresh detergent.
A glance at his phone showed Cole it had been a whole five minutes. Just eighty-five more to go.