Kevin Bivanti’s dream is to open a wedding dress shop, a place with the stunning gowns to make every bride-to-be feel adored. At thirty-eight, he quits a successful advertising career to buy an old brownstone in a trendy Boston neighborhood and to make his dream a reality. When one of his cosigners drops out, fate intervenes, ushering in Casper James, who hopes to open his own bakery. With Casper willing to take the risk, their ambitions meld into a wedding dress and wedding cake boutique.
Extensive renovations to the brownstone, an affair with his ex-husband, family drama with his mothers, and the anxiety of significant life changes push Kevin to the brink of a nervous breakdown. In the midst of stress and uncertainty, Casper becomes more than a business partner, a mutual attraction that adds another layer of intensity and risk.
With their dreams on the verge of reality, Kevin and Casper must find the courage to face the stress of managing their attraction, the gamble of a new business venture, and the resurgence of Kevin’s personal demons.
Starting at a very young age, Kevin begins a life of anxiety and stress and eating disorders. He needs to be perfection and manifests this in a strict control of his life and his body. His only salvation is his dream of a wedding dress shop and all the happiness and perfection those dresses embody for him.
Casper is the polar opposite. He’s not “ripped” or “model perfect” but he’s a great guy. He’s got a dream and a belief in fate and a huge, huge heart.
When Kevin takes the plunge and decides to finally invest in his dream and open his own shop, the financial burden forces him to consider Casper’s bakery as an addition and partnership. What he doesn’t know is that Casper will also prove to be his friend, confidant, lover and partner in life, too.
I think that when you decide to tackle any issues like these – severe anxiety and eating disorders – you (the author and reader) have to be prepared to put your head in a painful place. Interestingly enough, I had a similar reaction to Tara Lain’s most recent MC – Dennis – because in order to live his life you had to share his head-space and it was an ugly place to be. Life in Kevin’s head isn’t pretty either – despite his outside packaging – and it’s hard to spend time there. So a huge round of kudos to the author and to readers who take on this endeavor.
That being said, it’s an absolutely worthwhile endeavor to read this because it is beautifully written and it touches on such an important issue and one that so rarely meets the light of day. Just like us women, men too can have body issues that can be so damaging as to be fatal and at the very least mentally exhausting and depressing. Kevin’s issues are not slight and it is possible that without intervention I’m sure it could have been life threatening.
What makes this book unique is that it is openly about a personal friend of the author so the story resonates with authenticity and truth. That makes it SO much harder to read because I was picturing his friend and his struggles and I had a face to go with it. (I hope he got the happy ending Kevin did – he surely deserves it!)
Casper, however, is who made this story for me. While I felt and felt deeply for Kevin – I appreciated Casper’s willingness to bare his soul and open his heart to Kevin and be willing to accept him – flaws and all – not as a project to be “fixed” but as a person to love. That takes remarkable courage and strength, because it would have been so tempting to try to take on Kevin’s troubles as his own, but he didn’t – he stood there and was support for Kevin, 100 percent of the time – even in the face of Kevin’s apparent rejection.
I also loved that Kevin’s mom’s weren’t perfect, nor anyone in the story, really – everyone is flawed perfectly and adds layers to this story to give it the resonance and depth.
On a final note, I absolutely loved the “woman at the gym” and how she portrayed the outward expression of Kevin’s image of himself. It was a great visual and a perfect device for helping the reader to more fully understand the workings of Kevin’s mind. Bravo Brandon!
So… if you’ve got your big girl/boy underpants on … sign up for this and you’ll be greatly rewarded, but it takes courage to take it on because the pain is real and deep in this story, but the happiness in the end is it’s own reward.
5 of 5 stars
Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review