Ben Walsh is well on his way to becoming one of Manhattan’s top litigators, with a gorgeous boyfriend and friends on the A-list. His life is perfect until he gets a phone call that brings it all crashing down: a car accident takes his parents, and now he must return to Austin to raise three teenage brothers he barely knows.
During the funeral, Ben meets Travis Atwood, the redneck neighbor with a huge heart. Their relationship initially runs hot and cold, from contentious to flirtatious, but when the weight of responsibility starts wearing on Ben, he turns to Travis, and the pressure shapes their friendship into something that feels a lot like love. Ben thinks he’s found a way to have his old life, his new life, and Travis too, but love isn’t always easy. Will he learn to recognize that sometimes the worst thing imaginable can lead him to the place he was meant to be?
Ben lives in New York at the start of the story, he’s friends with the influential and looking to rise quickly in the world of lawyers. His parents die suddenly and leave him his younger brothers to raise – back in Texas. He’s sure the thing to do is move everyone back to NYC , there isn’t anything keeping him in Texas and many reasons to leave the dust behind. Until…
Travis has been friends with the Walshes for a while now and is especially close to their sons. He plays an influential role in helping Ben reconnect with his brothers and somehow, along the way, finds himself being attracted to a man (Ben) for the first time in his life.
The attraction is mutual, though the path to love is far from easy. First there are the brothers – they don’t trust Ben and don’t know how he’s going to fit in their lives again. Then there’s the fact that Travis has some pretty hefty hurdles to overcome concerning his own sexuality. Finally, once Ben and Travis are together and the boys have come around, there is the problem of location. Namely, Ben can’t see himself in Texas and no one else can see themselves in NYC – especially not Travis, who really is a good ol’ boy at heart.
After some much needed time apart, the advice from friends and some unexpected visits from beyond the grave, Travis and Ben re-prioritize and we get our HEA.
I have to admit, I didn’t like this book nearly as much when I first read it as I do now that I have read the subsequent sequels. Without giving away too much, just let me say that Travis and Ben have much more to their relationship than we see here and the payoff is really, really worth it.
This is essentially a GFY story for Travis and a sort of coming of age story for Ben in that he has a lot of growing up to do, despite his years. The book is heavy on dialog and the romance, the sex is subtle, slow building, but very sweet. Again, with a re-read after knowing more about the characters from the next books, the subtleties are really showcased as quiet clues to a much bigger, more amazing story that you will want to re-read this book just to catch them.
I highly recommend this book and the subsequent books that follow.
I give it 4.5 of 5 hearts
Charlie David is one of my favorite m/m narrators. He does a really fantastic job with the southern drawls and is very easy to listen to. The sound quality is excellent and I think that I enjoyed listening to the audiobook even more than reading it, due to the quality of the narration.
I give it 4.5 of 5 hearts.
Overall, 4.5 of 5 hearts.