How do you save a drowning man when that drowning man is you?
Jake Moore’s world fits too tightly around him. Every penny he makes as a welder goes to care for his dying father, an abusive, controlling man who’s the only family Jake has left. Because of a promise to his dead mother, Jake resists his desire for other men, but it leaves him consumed by darkness.
It takes all of Dallas Yates’s imagination to see the possibilities in the fatigued Art Deco building on the WeHo’s outskirts, but what seals the deal is a shy smile from the handsome metal worker across the street. Their friendship deepens while Dallas peels back the hardened layers strangling Jake’s soul. It’s easy to love the artistic, sweet man hidden behind Jake’s shattered exterior, but Dallas knows Jake needs to first learn to love himself.
When Jake’s world crumbles, he reaches for Dallas, the man he’s learned to lean on. It’s only a matter of time before he’s left to drift in a life he never wanted to lead and while he wants more, Jake’s past haunts him, making him doubt he’s worth the love Dallas is so desperate to give him.
220 e-book pages
Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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I’m gonna start this review with a giggle or else I’d have to start by sharing the gasping sobs I had during the first bit of this book.
Damn, I gave it away…I’ll get back to it.
So Rhys Ford, one of my most favoritest authors, has gone and written a contemporary straying FAR from the icky, gory, murderous, scary usual stuff that I read (gleefully) between fingers over my eyes. And what a contemporary it is!
But folks here’s the giggle: She couldn’t do this without tossing in a dead body. Of course, there’s a dead body. I think that car just steers itself when she’s behind the wheel.
Okay, dead bodies aren’t funny. I’m not laughing at dead bodies, just that there was one poor fictional soul that had to die some horrid, lonely death at Rhys Ford’s creative hand like it was totally unavoidable.
For real, though. This book. In short, I loved it — as I love pretty much every word Rhys writes.
In long, there might’ve been a thing or two that maybe sorta didn’t quite click for me. So, let’s get to it.
The first bit is physically painful with one of the main guys, Jake, literally sucking the barrel of a gun because his entire life has been an epic shitshow of abusive family horror. I mean, brace for wracking, gut-punching sobs as his history unfolds. It got to me in big ways. But this is a thing in my gay romance books I don’t much like — the abusive family therefore zero self-worth and closeted out of abject fear/utter lack of hope for even a scrap of joy. I just…it’s a trope that shows up far too often. I think Rhys handled it very well, no knocks there, because I think the ultimate message is that there is light at the end of the tunnel for folks who’ve lost sight of hope— and that light’s not always a freight train.
Rhys has powerful talent when it comes to descriptive prose that tickles all the senses. Her words have teeth that latch on and pull me right into the story, every single time. Always. Just…I don’t know. In places that didn’t seem to matter much to the arcs of the story, sometimes they got to be a bit much. Patches of blushing lavender prose, if you will. Not enough to pull me out of the story, but enough to make me fleetingly wonder at necessity. Sometimes. Once or twice.
OTHERWISE, this was pretty damn fab.
Dallas was the perfect partner for Jake. He’s cool, mostly calm and collected. A centering voice of reason with a serious knack for making people comfortable and getting them to open up. And he’s got the perfect tones of well-timed sarcasm and droll wit — some of it self-deprecating in just the right ways to even things out. Dude is super-educated, super-fly, and rich and Jake is…not those things. But the way Dallas is with him (and everyone else), they aren’t glaring differences or platforms of judgment — they’re total non-issues.
Celeste, Dallas’ BFF, came veeeerrry close to stealing the show. She’s a sassy, smart-mouthed, meddling sort who Dallas dotes on like crazy. If she didn’t have such a huge heart, she’d be a menace. Well, she kind of is a menace, just with good intentions. The way she and Dallas pick at each other was hilarious and not only underscored the depth of their friendship but offered nuggets of much needed comic relief.
There’s This Guy was an emotional rollercoaster from joyful highs to lows of hopeless despair with some surprising twists in between.
The big wins for me were the big-hearted side characters who were so loving and supportive— and often funny and mildly eccentric. And the family of one’s making — that one gets me every time. This is hurt/comfort and angsty, definitely. But the rays of hope, sparks of attraction, burning embers of new love — that’s what it’s all about, and it’s enough to light the way to the path of Happily Ever After. Because, by god, Jake needed some happy — and Dallas with his motley crew of a family + Celeste were the perfect ones to give it to him.
I’m convinced Rhys can write anything that I’ll read. I love her words and stories that much — even with dead bodies.
Advance Review Copy generously provided by the author.
About the Author:
Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawai’i then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain.
Rhys admits to sharing the house with cats of varying degrees of black fur and a ginger cairn terrorist. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and an overworked red coffee maker.