With his college graduation gown expertly pitched into the trash, Justin Akron is ready for the road trip he planned with his best friend Landry— and ready for one last summer of escape from his mother’s controlling grip. Climbing into the Winnebago his father left him, they set out across America in search of the sites his father had captured through the lens of his Nikon.
As an aspiring photographer, Justin can think of no better way to honor his father’s memory than to scatter his ashes at the sites he held sacred. And there’s no one Justin would rather share the experience with more than Landry.
But Justin knows he can’t escape forever. Eventually he’ll have to return home and join his mother’s Senate campaign. Nor can he escape the truth of who he is, and the fact that he’s in love with his out-and-proud travel companion.
Admitting what he wants could hurt his mother’s conservative political career. But with every click of his shutter and every sprinkle of ash, Justin can’t resist Landry’s pull. And when the truth comes into focus, neither is prepared for the secrets the other is hiding.
Contemporary, M/M, GLBT+, New Adult
222 e-book pages
Series, book 1
Edition I read:
Crushes are the worst. They’re unsanctioned self-torture of the mind. Especially the unrequited ones. But even the ones that become requited are raw agony until they’re, um…requited.
The heart is squashed under a pressing weight of longing, every molecule of your body screaming “SEE ME” and constantly, constantly being rejected by the object of your desire. Because they just don’t know. Or, worst case, they know and they don’t quite know how to deal with you.
Those first symptoms of a crush, the awareness of that attraction toward another person..it’s exciting, an awakening. The mind taking flight with all the possibilities of what could be. You gravitate to every word, every gesture, every smile. You’re locked in their orbit because their pull is stronger than that of the moon on the tides.
You just hope like hell you don’t come across as creepy.
So you play it cool.
(I’m not always good at cool.)
(I just hope like hell I’m not creepy.)
But as time ticks on, it just gets more painful.
I had the guy in all the ways I could have him, except in the way my heart really wanted him. We were best friends. We talked about everything. We kicked back with beer and watched football (I hate football but I was a good sport). He was my plus one when I needed one for weddings and such (he hated it but was a good sport). He looked out for me. I did things for him. He’d call for no reason except he missed me. He hated the guys I dated. I tolerated the girls he dated. Everyone, and I mean everyone (our parents included), voiced their confusion as to why we weren’t together. Even people we didn’t know looked at us like we were nuts when they found out we weren’t an item.
Eight years I spent wanting him. I wanted the arm he’d casually sling around my shoulders to pull me in a little closer. I wanted those sparking eyes that crinkled at the corners when he smiled at me to linger just a moment longer. When he’d kiss my forehead I wanted a few extra seconds to feel his lips on my skin and bask in his scent. I wanted just one of the beautiful songs he wrote to be for me.
The mind plays dirty, dirty tricks the longer that goes on. I had to leave and break free. I had to stop the phone calls and hanging out. I had to quit spinning my wheels on something that wasn’t going to happen and take care of myself. As long as I was in his orbit nobody else could sway me. I had to convince myself there was nothing wrong with me. He and I weren’t going to be anything more than friends. Great friends. Better friends after I moved on. And now, many years later. We are. We’re healthy friends who touch base with Christmas cards that include greetings to and from his wife and kids. And I’m glad we’re not together, because now? We wouldn’t fit that way. Now it’s all kind of laughable. Also, he knew all along and loved me the way he could despite my crazy—which was pretty damned good in hindsight.
Right…so…can awkward internet confession time be over now?
Back to the book that started out with a smack in the face of some old wounds and happy memories.
Fortunately, these guys got there.
I really liked Justin and Landry and their journey to togetherness. It wasn’t easy. But, they’re at that wonderful new adult phase where they’re still finding their way.
I had a few issues that are holding me back from five stars. The ending felt just a tad rushed to me with the (**spoiler alert**) car accident that I’ve gotten tired of seeing in books.
There was a scene that involved a whirlpool tub and a bottle of bubble bath. I’ve never done that (the bubble bath in whirlpool)…but I washed my hair once in a jacuzzi tub and just rinsing out the shampoo in the agitating waters created a bubble extravaganza that came close to overspilling the sides. So, I gotta call foul on that scene.
Being a road-trip story, I wanted more of the trip and the emotion of visiting all of the places that were important to Justin and his dad. Road trips with a BFF are awesome, and I’d think especially so in an RV and the beginnings of a relationship. The “trip” part that I was so looking forward to ended up being kind of lacking to the point it almost wasn’t necessary.
There were a few other technical peeves I ran across that, well…I wasn’t going to say. But, I’m not usually one to hold back. I don’t like first-person self-descriptions worded in actions such as “I brushed my dark-brown hair.” I also get a little twitchy with too many cues in sex scenes telling us precisely which hand is where. My judgy self just thinks there are more artful ways to portray those descriptions that end up flowing better.
Also, I really wanted more of Landry. I adored him. There was so much I felt that was unexplored with him and some of his quirks that likely stemmed from his early childhood. Sometimes he came off as a little bit of a simpleton, and I don’t think that’s true…but I wasn’t exactly proven wrong.
Overall this was a solid and sweet story that was truly enjoyable—and book two is going on my TBR.
This review also posted on GoodReads.