Title: Handle with Care
Series: Dreamspun Desires 68
Author: Cari Z
Length: Novel (194 pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (16th October 2018)
Heat Level: Low
Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 3.5 Hearts
Blurb: A fragile heart needs extra care.
Burned-out social worker Aaron McCoy is on vacation for the first time in years—boss’s orders. Road-tripping to his brother’s wedding with his best friend, Tyler, seems a fun way to spend the mandatory two-week leave, and they set out for Kansas—and a difficult homecoming.
Aaron’s mother was a drug addict, and his adorable younger brother was quickly adopted, while Aaron spent his childhood in foster care. As Aaron mends fences, Tyler hopes to show him that this time, he won’t be left behind to face his problems alone.
Aaron’s opening up to how right it feels to be with Tyler and to the possibility of taking the leap from friends to lovers. But along with the wedding celebration comes a painful reminder of the past. Aaron’s heart is still breakable. Can he put it in Tyler’s hands?
Review: Cari Z is a new author to me, however, just reading the blurb of the book had me looking forward to story. Thankfully, the story was everything that I had hoped for and even a little bit more. This is an emotional friend to lovers story where one of the MCs has a lifetime of baggage to overcome before I can take the steps to fall in love with his best friend.
The man with all the baggage is Aaron McCoy. He is a social worker because he wants to help the kids who, like Aaron, were the impossible cases taken away from their primary caregiver(s) because they are in danger. Aaron has no love for his drug-taking mother and misses the little brother, Zach, who he had felt that he had been forced to leave behind after Zach was adopted. Aaron had a lot of issues and the parents who adopted Zach could not take Aaron, and while h has some issues concerning that he understands why. However, Aaron is close to burning out and so he has been forced to take a 2-week vacation from work.
The only other person who Aaron truly spends time with is his best friend Tyler. When Aaron left his home town and his little brother it was Tyler and his family who came to the rescue. Aaron still keeps them all at arm’s length, but these are people that consider Aaron family.
Tyler is a happy go lucky sort of bloke. He is a computer geek who can do most of his work on the road or at home. Knowing what Aaron is like he has the perfect solution for the 2-week holiday – Aaron’s baby brother is getting married and Aaron had been invited. Tyler not only forces Aaron to face up to his past and his brother, but also joins him on the road trip. They become closer as Zach and his family assume that the guys are a couple and as Aaron begins to tackle demons he had been too scared to face.
The only two reasons that stopped me from giving it a higher rating were: 1) I thought that there could have been more about the demons that Aaron had to handle when it came to his time in the foster system. I felt that this was rather glossed over throughout the whole book. 2) While Aaron and Tyler had chemistry, for guys that knew each other for some years, I felt that there needed to be more sexual tension and deeper chemistry between them. There is a particular scene in the book where Aaron literally flips a switch in his brain and decides its ok for him to love his best friend. This links back to first point too, I feel.