Donovan Carlisle helps countless people in Lavender Shores with his skills as a therapist. It seems, however, that his ability to enable others to live their happiest life only works outside of himself. Donovan truly loves his life, but isn’t able to find a relationship that satisfies his heart’s craving. Maybe the problem is that the only man he wants is off-limits.
Spencer Epstein came to Lavender Shores to find himself. Instead, he married one of the local town beauties. He’d thought his prayers had finally been answered. Then, he met his pregnant fiancée’s brother. It turned out those answered prayers were just cruel twists of fate.
A decade later, after a divorce and the crumbling of all Spencer thought was set in stone, he sees his brother-in-law at a masquerade sex party. He takes full advantage of the anonymity and acts on the desires he’s held at bay all those years. The problem is, those silent and frenzied moments didn’t satiate anything. The fire and heat between the two men only grows as secrets are uncovered and they must determine if the cost of their passion is too high…
Donovan and Spencer are both at a point in their lives where I think they’ve stopped hoping for a grand romance or happily-ever-after.
They know who their heart belongs to, but they do not believe their feelings are reciprocated or that a relationship is even possible. One of the drawbacks of falling for your (ex-)brother-in-law.
They are both such caring and kind men. It’s such sweet relief when they finally find some much-deserved happiness with each other. The yearning and love they feel for each other is off the charts.
There’s a little bit of angst when they first cross that line from “mere” brothers-in-law into something more personal, with Spencer being somewhat sneaky in how he goes about it.
But it does the trick in getting the ball rolling. Donovan’s reaction when he finds out that Spencer knew full well what he was doing and with who at the masquerade party was great! Surprising, and wonderful. I would have hated recriminations or emotional drama at that point.
Donovan the therapist sometimes hinders Donovan the man with the doom and gloom of everything he has seen and heard in his years of counseling others. On the other hand, it also helps him to understand Spencer better and be there for him the way he needs.
Spencer was brought up to believe being gay was wrong and sinful, and that a “cure” was possible if he only tried hard enough. My heart ached for all he went through because of that, and the far-reaching impact it had on him, even at a time when you think he’s finally reached a happy and safe place in his life.
I hate that his parents didn’t react better or more feelingly, not at any point in the story. As a mother, I can’t fathom how anyone could treat their children so. How horrible and sad that such things are not confined to the world of fiction.
Donovan and Spencer aren’t in their twenties anymore and they are fully aware that no man is an island. There is Erica to consider, Donovan’s sister and Spencer’s ex-wife, and more importantly still, Spencer’s and Erica’s children, Emma and Ethan.
The scene where Erica finds out that her brother and ex-husband are together is very intense and emotional. This is the scene that made me cry. Her anger is understandable, though how she goes about expressing it is less so, but her sincere remorse at how she lashed out and Spencer’s reaction to everything, make this into a very powerful moment. Very raw. Very real.
One of the many things I adored about this story, is that the three adults always keep in mind what is best for the children and that the children never have any reason to doubt how loved they are. Erica’s occasional mean-spiritedness never touches her children, and when the moment comes to explain to Emma and Ethan that daddy and uncle Donovan are in love, Donovan especially rises to the occasion. Though all three of the adults handle the revelation with care and sensitivity.
I was completely blown away by this story.
Kirt Graves again did an excellent job! He has a warm and soothing voice that made listening to this story an absolute pleasure. Donovan and Spencer come across very distinctly and I really liked the timbre he choose for each of their voices, which I felt matched their personality very well.
Number of stars: 6