Author: Rick R. Reed
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: Novel (200 pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (September 13th, 2013)
Heat Level: Moderate
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥3.5 Hearts
Blurb: Nate Tippie and Brandon Wilde are gay, single, and both hoping to meet that special man, even though fate has not yet delivered him to their doorstep. Nate’s sister, Hannah, and her kooky best friend, Marilyn, are about to help fate with that task by creating a profile on the gay dating site, OpenHeartOpenMind. The two women are only exploring, but when they need a face and body for the persona they create, they use Nate as the model.
When Brandon comes across the false profile, he falls for the guy he sees online. Keeping up the charade, Hannah begins corresponding with him, posing as Nate. Real complications begin when Brandon wants to meet Nate, but Nate doesn’t even know he’s being used in the online dating ruse. Hannah and Marilyn concoct another story and send Nate out to let the guy down gently. But when Nate and Brandon meet, the two men feel an instant and powerful pull toward each other. Cupid seems to have shot his bow, but how do Nate and Brandon climb out from under a mountain of deceit without letting go of their chance at love?
Review: Mr. Reed has a strong talent in writing realistic characters and this book proves that fact one more time. I couldn’t help but notice that every single character felt like a living-breathing entity.
Nate and Brandon are two every-day guys. Nate is the type that will go about finding love and that special someone in bars and through every site available to “dating.” He’s not being very successful at that as every single hook up leaves him drained and questioning the very existence of that special other. Brandon is the exact opposite. He goes about finding love in the classic way. Trying to find him out in the street, during his running, through classic ways and dating. He’s not being very successful either, mostly because he is a bit peculiar. He is a romantic and hooking up for meaningless sex, or sex with a guy that doesn’t spark those special feelings in him isn’t something he does. No, Brandon wants romance. He wants to get to know a person, to slowly fall for him, to have a connection of souls, before jumping in bed, hence his near virginal state.
So how do these two guys meet? Enter Hannah, Nate’s sister, and her BFF Marilyn. It takes a girls-night at home, some boredom, and a healthy dose of curiosity for them to create an account on a romantic dating site. The same site Brandon decided to try to find his special other. It takes Hannah one look at Brandon’s profile picture to fall in… well, something with him, and encourages her to email him as her brother. Weird? It gets better as Brandon really likes “Nate” and asks to meet, at which point Hannah feels compelled to fess up to Nate about what she’s done and ask him to meet Brandon and let him down gently, because no, she doesn’t want her brother to hook up with him…
This is how this very intense, angsty, and quite frustrating story begins. I liked the fact that I was immersed in this book from the first line. I liked how easy it was for me to read and get invested, how effortlessly this book evoked strong emotions and made me literally crazy. Yes, this book can drive you crazy with its characters.
Brandon was searching for Mr. Perfect to a fault, and way too many times made me want to scream at him. His pickiness was annoying at times. Yes, his values were noble and I get it when it comes to honesty, but I didn’t liked the way he left and came back and left and came back… The fact that serious decisions he took in a blink of an eye, while other much more trivial he obsessed about. The ending, how it only took one speech from Nate to change his mind (again) and with the time frame being so small, I don’t know, he felt a bit juvenile there.
Nate, hmm, Nate felt a bit fatalistic, like going wherever the wind threw him. The kind of guy that while he knows there are issues to be addressed leaves them there until he has no other option, literally making things way harder for him that way. Other than that, I feel as if Nate was the only character in this book that didn’t cause me any frustration, but actually won me over from the very start.
But then along came Hannah. Sweet, lovely, sad, and pathetic Hannah. I thought I had read characters that evoked dislike in me. I thought that I knew how deep those kinds of characters could touch me. I was in for a surprise with this one. I seriously had to have many breaks during this read and try to calm myself, take deep breaths, and go for it once more, only to have her making me scream in the next paragraph. Being this angry to a fictional character is so not good for your sanity. So the question remains, “Is it a good thing, an admirable thing that this book managed to touch me so? “ Or should I resent the fact that it got so many negative emotions from me when it should have been a fun ride?” I still don’t have an answer for this dilemma.
As for the romance part of this book, well I loved it. Yes, there was that love if first sight thing that I don’t feel appealed by, but the entirety of this romance was lovely. I only wish there was more space for this pair in the story, I wish the focus wasn’t so much on the drama as it felt like it drowned the romance a bit too much. In the end, I’d have loved for more time to have transpired for Nate and Brandon to bond before things started collapsing and deceits being revealed.
Bottom end though, even though frustration was a constant, I did enjoy this book a lot, and I’d recommend it to all romance fans out there.