Erik Keston, son of the Keston Real Estate empire, knows what it takes to be successful. Despite his inherent wealth, he holds his own. He works hard, he’s grounded, he’s brilliant. He’s also secretly in love with his best friend.
Monroe Wellman lost his parents three years ago and never grieved, never recovered. Inheriting the family company and wealth means nothing, and his spiral of self-destruction is widespread and spectacular. Dubbed Sydney’s bad boy, he spends more days drunk than sober, and the only person who’s stuck by him through it all is his best mate.
But when Monroe hits rock bottom, Erik gives him an ultimatum, and his entire world comes to a grinding halt. It’s not until the haze lifts that Monroe can truly see what he’s been searching for was never in the bottom of a bottle. It’s been by his side all along.
An 80,000-word friends-to-lovers story about fighting the demons within and trusting in the love that takes its place.
“Because when all you drink is hate, that’s all there is inside you.”
Rock bottom. Monroe has just arrived or crashed would be more specific. The thing about hitting rock bottom is you have very little left to lose and very little scares you. But Monroe does have something or someone left to lose and that thought alone terrifies him. Erik has been sitting courtside during his best friend’s self-destruction and he simply can’t take it anymore. He never wanted to give him an ultimatum but he’s suddenly realized he is slowly killing himself watching Monroe torture himself. He has secretly loved Monroe but couldn’t risk losing him if he found out. Locking those feelings away, he has stoically stood next to him and braced every obstacle Monroe smashes through. But this last stunt drew a line in the sand. No more. Tough love is…well, tough. But if there is one thing that has never wavered it’s his unyielding love for Monroe. Walker lays it all on the table and it’s not pretty or easy. Alcoholism stems from many reasons. For Monroe, it’s not exactly that he’s addicted to alcohol but he’s addicted to the escape from reality that alcohol provides. He’s in so much pain and numbness grants him temporary relief. Diving back into the abyss before he can clear his mind is his daily goal. Nevermind anything or anyone that gets in his way. He’s not only drinking his hate but he’s drowning in it. Erik rescues him and it’s tragically beautiful.
I came across this quote and I’m afraid I don’t know who penned it, but wow, it’s spot on. I can see Erik’s face and hear these words echo in his mind…
“I see that you are drowning,
but I have to walk away.
If I jump in to save you,
you’ll pull me down to stay.
When you see me turn around,
don’t think that I don’t care.
You can’t see the tears
through all your gasps for air.”
The battle Monroe is fighting could very well declare a ceasefire on the war he is losing. That is if he wants to. The startling reality that this time it’s “all or nothing” rattles him to his bones. It truly is the wakeup call he needed. However, good intentions are only that. He needs to follow through and walk the walk of a sober man if he wishes to keep Erik. Saul enters at this point and he was a marvelous addition to this story. Detox begins and so does their separation. Which is never my favorite thing. I had to shift my thinking here and grasp that this is much more of a personal journey than a romance. Once I had that mindset, things flowed much better for me.
The best part of this story for me was Monroe and Erik. It was easy to be frustrated and even angry with Monroe. But it was also easy to admire his hidden strength and determination. Erik was a bright light in the darkness. I adored his infinite pool of love for Monroe. He was the anchor Monroe needed. When the fog lifted and Monroe recognized what he had been missing, it was as if the sun came out. I loved the tentative steps into their newly expanded relationship. I loved how they loved one another. I couldn’t get enough of the setting and very much enjoyed the strong secondary cast. And the ending was everything I needed and then some. This isn’t an easy lighthearted read and the road they travel doesn’t always move together. But there’s a hard-won victory that I enjoyed celebrating with them.
An intoxicated beginning followed by an intense recovery. An authentic personal journey that will tug on your heartstrings. And a beautiful blossoming between two best friends that remind us friends make the best lovers.
If you’ve ever been to an AA meeting or someone close to you has attended, this might hit too close to home. Walker fans should know this is a heavier story but contains all of her signature touches. There isn’t a better half with these two, but they certainly are better together.