3.5 stars - maybe rounded up to 4
Mh, I don't know what to think. First of all, I LOVE Riley Hart. The writing just does it for me. Practically evertime. So I was ecstatic to pick up her new book, and I read it in almost one go. I just didn't love this one as much as her other books, like Rock Solid for an example. So, what happened?
Folks, this one is a double GFY, butt-virgins, trying it all out, full ride and jump right in kind of story. So, if you're looking for short and sweet and not too sexual - move right along. Seriously, don't stop here. Reading this one during lunch break at work was NOT one of my brightest moments.
The sex was damn hot. Like, please let me go to my room now, because I really need time for myself - kind of hot. That was so not my issue. I kind of expect something like this from Riley Hart at this point. And she alsways delivers. And delivers. And delivers. It's unreal, how she never disappoints me on that account. Because, let's be honest here, good sex doesn't make a story. But somehow, she makes it work without coming across as unimaginative or not talented enough to get her writing out of the gutter. Quite the opposite!
But. (Why, oh why, do I always have to ningle too much?*sigh) At some point I realized I didn't enjoy myself as much as I hoped I would. I wasn't fully captivated, I didn't almost die everytime I had to stop reading. I'm not even sure why.
It wasn't necessarily because of the characters.
Bryce, MC number 1, isn't an easy guy. While he is happy after finally, finally finding his way to a profession he loves, his private life is kind of a mess. Pretending to still being together with his best friend and ex-girlfriend, Christi, he has no idea what is missing or what he is looking for in his life. 'Fuck 'em and leave 'em' doesn't exactly work anymore. But going steady and getb settled with Christi? Not going to happen either, which is a huge problem for his family, especially his mother. So, being honest is the one thing he doesn't want to do, because he just knows how disappointed his family will be. Especially because he has no idea what he wants in his life, instead.
And then there is Nick. He is complex in his very own way. He was married, his wife cheated and left him and now what? That's exactly the problem. He worked so hard for his professional dreams, his private life just somehow always got the short end of the stick. Now he has the success, but no love life or emotional connection to write home about.
In a way, these two have a lot in common. Even though Bryce is the one usually jumping in, asking questions later, in the end they both (over-)think and (over-) think, and always get mixed result. On the other hand, I was always thinking: Really? Why these two? And maybe, just maybe, I would have needed more from them in that respect. But of course they, too, were always questioning huge parts of what was going on between them. Understandable, it is a GFY after all. But... I don't know. It threw me. Sometimes it even threw me right out of my happy reading bubble.
What I really liked was the way the drama and fights in general were handeled. No silent treatment (not really, and not when it was important), no giving up when things got "too hard". Nick and Bryce talked things through in a way that was refreshing. There was so much potential for this whole "I have an issue, but don't want to mess everything up, so I'll shut up."- scenario and I was practically waiting for it. It would have been so easy to use the formula of 'misunderstanding - no communication- break-up'- it was absolutely great to NOT have it happen. Even the huge family melodrama didn't go down the way I feared it would. And in the end, it all came together believably, at the right time, with the right amount of HEA. Even with Nick's very traditional mother. She was, by all means, WAY TOO MUCH. Welcome to the Fifties, folks! A good wife takes care of her husband, no man should be bothered to help in the household and a boy can never survive without the right wife. Bargh... Please go away, you make my ears bleed! But even she had her moments in the end, and showed some redeeming qualities. In a way.
I liked that nobody was too one- dimensional here, not even the mother. Or both mothers, really. And I didn't have to roll my eyes over plot holes, or insta-love, or unbelievable GFY-moments.
So, in the end it was a good book. I enjoyed it, loved some parts of it and had no issues with the plot or the characters. Not really. Still, I didn't love it. It just didn't click. But I would still recommend this one, because my issues probably had more to do with me, than with the book itself.