Author: Cat Grant
Length: 10,000 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: m/m contemporary romance
Loving another begins with loving yourself.
On the surface, Steve Campbell seems to have it all: a beautiful home, a snazzy car, and a dream job as one of the country’s top 3-D optics researchers. But underneath, he’s restless and dissatisfied, tired of empty encounters with leggy lab assistants and endless evenings alone.
A chance meeting with a handsome escort lifts Steve’s spirits and opens his eyes to his long-repressed attraction to men—and his love for his best friend and business partner, Connor Morrison.
Connor might’ve loved Steve like that once, but now it’s too late for their happily ever after; Connor’s about to ask his boyfriend to marry him. Fortunately, it’s never too late to learn about yourself, and maybe Steve can find a happy ending on his own.
This story is what you might consider a bridge between two books. It follows Steve, the business partner and friend of Connor from Priceless in his journey of self discovery. Steve’s at a point in his life where he’s financially secure but is missing that special someone to share it with. He looks at Connor’s happiness and wishes he could have that too. By chance, Steve meets an escort, Dylan, who reawakens in him a bisexuality that he only explored at college.
I spent much of the book feeling rather sorry for Steve. He comes across as a bit of a sleaze with practiced chat up lines, outward self confidence and a wallet full of money. However, underneath he’s suffering a sort of emotional crisis. Meeting Dylan changes the course of his life and makes him face up to things he had buried and the story is mostly about Steve coming to terms with this. There’s unrequited love and an off page sexual encounter but there’s no solution for Steve by the end, just a resolve by him to make a step into the future with a different mindset. By the end I felt admiration for the way that Steve had changed both in self-confidence and in his plans for the future.
This all meant that this story is more a character study in Steve, rather than a romance, especially when any possible romance between Steve and Dylan is negated because Steve is paying for his time. I’m hoping that the next book will show Steve getting the happiness he deserves, and maybe this will be with Dylan, but maybe not too. I liked Steve and thought the author had done a good job in showing a hard working, academic man changing the way he thinks about himself. I also liked the way it showed the change in his friendship with Connor and I was sad that Connor had allowed their friendship to slide a little because of his relationship with Wes. The way this was addressed in the story seemed realistic and showed both Connor’s general cluelessness about people and Steve’s confusion over the change in his feelings.
Overall, despite the fact that this is not a conventional romance and doesn’t end on a traditional happy ending (it’s still hopeful though), I enjoyed this story. I’m looking forward to reading more about Steve and his search for love in the next book in the series.