A fragile heart needs extra care.
Burned-out social worker Aaron McCoy is on vacation for the first time in years–boss’s orders. Road-tripping to his brother’s wedding with his best friend, Tyler, seems a fun way to spend the mandatory two-week leave, and they set out for Kansas–and a difficult homecoming.
Aaron’s mother was a drug addict, and his adorable younger brother was quickly adopted, while Aaron spent his childhood in foster care. As Aaron mends fences, Tyler hopes to show him that this time, he won’t be left behind to face his problems alone.
Aaron’s opening up to how right it feels to be with Tyler and to the possibility of taking the leap from friends to lovers. But along with the wedding celebration comes a painful reminder of the past. Aaron’s heart is still breakable. Can he put it in Tyler’s hands?
I can’t tell you exactly why I adore best friends to boyfriends so much but this is a beautiful example of how fate turns its hand at just the right moment. I believe it’s the solid foundation that blossoms into more that leaves me grinning from ear to ear. Aaron and Tyler have known each other for years. Tyler was actually the youngest child of the foster family Aaron stayed with during his teens, but he’s never considered him a brother. He shares blood with Zach, his brother that he would have shed blood for during his childhood. Growing up without a father and with an addict mother, his adolescence was anything but smooth sailing. He chartered choppy and unstable waters to protect and care for his younger brother. Aaron was forced to step into parental roles prematurely and then he lost his brother when the system stepped in. His soul was battered and bruised before he was a legal adult. Rather than submitting to temptations and following in his mother’s footsteps, he turned his fire towards the greater good and became a social worker. Bless him. Any soul that fights the continuous cycle of neglected children deserves all the praise in the world. It takes a special person to work in CPS. Aaron is not only good at what he does, but he’s also the best. Problem with being the best? Sometimes the pressure suffocates the source of the fire. Aaron is losing his grasp and his boss knows it. Forced to take a leave from his job is unthinkable. His kids need him! What will they do? Or for that matter, what will he do? As it turns out, he is going to embrace life…and live. And I think you should join along.
I was quick to like both Aaron and Tyler. Aaron has a one-track mind which has shaped his one-track life. His work consumes him and it’s wearing on him. The word ‘detachment’ doesn’t exist in his vocabulary. The system failed him when he was a boy (in addition to his parents) and he refuses to let any kids slip through the cracks on his watch. He’s overworked, stressed, and still holding tight onto resentment from his own youth. As you can see, he’s a mess. Tyler is full of cheer and his spirit is bright. He is everything that Aaron needs and even some that he didn’t know he needed. He’s never allowed himself to think of Tyler in a romantic sense because he couldn’t dare risk it. Tyler is all he’s got. But little did he know that Tyler wants him in every way as well. An impromptu road trip opens up possibilities. Aaron is anxious because it’s Zach’s wedding and he hasn’t seen him in a long time. Does his brother still know him? Does he still know his brother? Once Aaron lets down the fortress around his heart, he is overcome with feels. Good feels…which takes me to…
I think those that have the biggest hearts are often more inclined to have it struck the hardest. And Aaron’s is sore and scarred. Tyler is the only remedy. Until now, he hasn’t been ready to accept why. But his time-out from his life clears the haze and he suddenly realizes…what he’s been missing. The sun comes out and I basked in it. Tyler has the patience of a saint but he understands and respects the inner essence that makes Aaron who he is. I thought their progression was completely fitting for them. I loved how they can speak without words. I adored how they rescued each other. And then when they begin to truly allow themselves to fall, I was melting. Desires and sexual tension thrum with intensity. They don’t take things physical until nearly the end. And by then I think I was just as desperate as they were! But their story is more than that. It’s about opening yourself to love and discovering the elation of loving another. Loving someone with your whole heart is freeing. And Aaron is finally free. Cari’s writing always pulls me in and I was grateful to see these two best friends give their hearts completely to one another.
Slow burn. Yet the spark that catches with plenty of carefully placed kindling burns the brightest. Children of a victim of addiction that prove they are more than just a statistic. I wasn’t fond of Zach’s friends and his bachelor party was a conflict I could have done without.
Attention friends to lovers fans!! There’s nothing quite like falling in love with your best friend and Cari Z. delivers a tender tale full of feeling.