Includes the Coda series prequel novella, Meant to Be
Jared has simple goals for his freshman year of college: make friends, lose his virginity, come out, and maybe fall in love. He doesn’t anticipate getting caught between his friend Bryan and Bryan’s flamboyant ex. Through the awkwardness, Jared learns love doesn’t always mean sex and the most meaningful connections might have nothing to do with romance.
Can a man who loves his small hometown trust it to love him back?
Jared Thomas has lived in the mountain town of Coda, Colorado, his whole life. He can’t imagine living anywhere else. But Jared’s opportunities are limited—the only other gay man in town is twice his age, and although Jared originally planned to be a teacher, the backlash that might accompany the gig keeps him working at his family’s store instead.
Then Matt Richards moves to town.
Matt may not be into guys, but he doesn’t care that Jared is. A summer camping and mountain biking together cements their friendship, but when Matt realizes he’s attracted to Jared, he panics and withdraws, leaving Jared all too aware of what he’s missing.
Facing Matt’s affair with a local woman, his disapproving family, and harassment from Matt’s coworkers, Jared fears they’ll never find a way to be together. But for the first time, he has the courage to try… if he can only convince Matt.
This is to me one of the defining OFY romances out there.
A wonderful love story with amazing depth to it and well-rounded, authentic and utterly lovable MC’s who are put through the wringer while reaching for their HEA. It also has a remarkable cast of secondary characters, though not all of them are equally likable. But then the bad guys rarely are.
The angst and the sensual build-up of the attraction between Jared & Matt made this a very enthralling read, to say nothing of the genuine friendship and humor they share. What also stood out to me, is that out and proud Jared still has issues and fears of his own to overcome too, requiring Matt to suddenly take on the role of strong and decisive partner. It does bring a balance to their relationship though.
I think Marie Sexton did a marvelous job at writing the friends to lovers angle and I loved the subtle and ever so slow way in which it dawns on Matt that there’s more to his feelings for Jared than he ever expected there could be. His internalized homophobia and struggle to accept himself are written so grippingly, making my heart ache for him and Jared both.
Matt’s father is absolutely awful and I was glad to see the last of him, even though it took a while to get to that point. His colleagues at first aren’t much better, which sadly is probably quite a realistic take on things, though they at least did improve on closer acquaintance.
Jared’s friend Cole is a great secondary character, flamboyant and intriguing, and I enjoyed finding out more about him in the series prequel novella that’s included in this edition of Promises. He gets his turn at a HEA in Coda #4.
This is a brilliant start to a great series.
Number of stars out of 5: 5