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Blurb: Ben Emerson has lived by his minister father’s rules most of his life. Born into an ultra-conservative church community, he’s finally brave enough to break free and move to San Francisco. Distancing himself certainly helps create a new mindset, but living as an openly gay man takes some getting used to. When he reaches out to Xavier, a childhood friend who lives in the city, Ben isn’t sure how he’ll respond given their thorny history. Ben hopes the familiar connection will help him right some wrongs as well as provide the solace he’s been craving.
Xavier Ramos is who he is, and he doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks. Whether it’s eyeliner, nail polish, tattoos or his love of hooking up, he uses his body as a form of self-expression but doesn’t let anyone get too close. When Ben reenters his life, Xavier helps him experience the city and feel comfortable in his own skin. Seeing the world through Ben’s eyes, he begins to wonder if he’s also not living as freely as he thought.
When Xavier challenges Ben’s beliefs about sex, it becomes explosive—for both of them. Xavier breaks apart Ben’s sheltered world and shows him what it’s like to live out loud. The more time they spend together, the more Xavier begins to long for Ben in a different way—one that both surprises and scares him. But real life doesn’t fade into the background, so when Ben’s past comes knocking, old habits are hard to break. Testing the foundation of their deepening connection will take a trust that will either bind them…or tear them apart.
Review: This story broke my heart a little. Ben endured a lot as a young teen. His religious parents (dad is a pastor), believed that conversion therapy could ‘cure the gay’ out of Ben. Xavier just wanted to belong, and when he showed his feelings by kissing Ben, Ben pushed him away.
Fast forward several years later. Ben has moved away from his family and wants to reconnect with Xavier. Xavier, is now living openly as a gay man. He has a bit of a bad boy persona, complete with tattoos. What starts out as a rebuilding of a friendship, turns into a slow, heat-building exploration of their attraction to each other.
The story is well written, especially the romance. Both men learn a lot about each other as their friendship moves to something more intimate. I think I was just as surprised, (in a good way) as they were, when they finally let their barriers fall and they fell in love ☺
4.5 stars out of 5
Copy Purchased for Review