Deep in the heart of the Florida Panhandle, Scott Ashworth’s bleak life stretches out before him with not much hope for the future. His hardscrabble days are brightened by the arrival of a new stepbrother, Rylan Mahoney, who quickly becomes the friend Scott so desperately needs. Their relationship has just started to deepen into more, when during the course of one terrible night, what Scott overhears sends him fleeing from his home, never to return.
Flash forward six years, and Scott is now the hottest club host on the Phoenix gay scene. He takes what he wants, does what he wants, and does whom he wants. It’s a good life, but the journey to local popularity and fame wasn’t an easy one. For all that Scott’s looks are a blessing, at the same time they’re a curse—the source of his alcoholic mother’s inexplicable hatred.
Rylan dreams of photojournalistic glory. He’s in Phoenix looking for the story of a lifetime, but the project isn’t coming to fruition. Needing rent money, he accepts a gig at Phoenix Pride hawking lewd lollipops and edible condoms…all while wearing gold lamé hot pants and a matching bow tie. When Rylan’s house keys and street clothes go missing after his shift, he’s desperate, until a stranger in a convertible stops to help.
The man is absolute sex on legs, and Rylan is jolted when he recognizes him—his stepbrother Scott Ashworth, long missing but suddenly larger than life. Reunited after six years apart, Scott and Rylan are determined to put their past behind them, but fate intervenes and leaves their future in jeopardy once again.
This was the most unromantic love story I’ve read in a long time. If you are looking for swoon, you won’t find it here. However, if you are looking for a heartbreaking tale of two young adults finding their soul mate in the most unlikely and unconventional place…this is it. If I had paid closer attention to the blurb I would have definitely skipped this one, which would have been most unfortunate. One of my harsh triggers is incest. I run fast and far away from incest stories. Step-siblings can share a parent, but thankfully for me, this pair of step-brothers do not share any DNA. They share many other things, including their hearts, but Hansen clearly portrays loving someone is not enough to save them.
Scott’s mother has a surprise for him, he has a new step-father and this union brings another addition to the family, a new step-brother. When Rylan walks into Scott’s life he does something no one has ever done for Scott before. He offers Scott stability, comfort, and friendship. Scott is dirt poor. Not only is he denied material things but he’s poverty-stricken when it comes to love. His mother is abusive. She has her own sad story but she passes along her demons to her children. Scott is the eldest of her brood and attempts to shield his siblings by taking the brunt of her assaults. But his armor has weakened and he is drained. He suffered pains that no child should ever have to face. And I hate her for the damage she caused in her selfish wake. It’s not often that I can claim hatred for a character but this is one of those rare times. Heather Ashworth is a horrid human.
Scott doesn’t have much going for him but the one thing he can always count on is his looks. He is absolutely gorgeous. He discovered early on that a pretty face and smooth talking has endless benefits. He takes full advantage of this asset and painfully discovers what desperation will do to a man. In the end, some choices aren’t really choices at all.
Scott and Rylan are all grown up and cross paths again. Could a second chance possibly allow them an opportunity to have what they were denied before? Scott is successful in countless ways now but he’s still his biggest enemy when it comes to forgiveness and love. How can you love someone else when you don’t love yourself? You can’t.
Pristine storyline execution. There is a great deal going on. From the beginning to the end (or more like intermission) details and pieces come together beautifully. I always enjoy it when an author is able to feed me a feast of information but with such clarity that I’m not overwhelmed or confused.
I love Rylan. I felt like this was more Scott’s story but Rylan made it shine for me. That is simply because Rylan makes Scott shine. True inner beauty radiates from the sexy model when Rylan is in his life. I adored how Rylan handled Scott. Charms and bribes are ineffective with Rylan. His patience is epic and luckily for Scott, he is also steadily determined. Scott has forged a barricade around his heart but he gave a piece of it to Rylan years ago. Rylan has cherished and protected it and now that he has found the man again, he’s going to do the same for the stubborn broken man he never gave up on.
Epic cliffhanger! It was brutal and if I wasn’t holding the second book in the wings of my Kindle, I would have been seriously grumpy. This should be treated as part one and I would advise you to plan on having part two ready.
As I mentioned earlier, this is an amazing love story but it’s a far cry from romance. It’s choked full of deep emotions and pain but most of all, hope.