Matthew Doner is starting over. After a five-year prison term that alters every aspect of his life, he receives a bequest from his aunt with the stipulation that he use the money to make things right. Breaking free of the long-standing role he’s played and inspired by the few who support him, he decides to create a safe place where people like him can find purpose and start a new life.
Julian Capeletti likes challenges. He is confident, brash, stubborn, and just what Matt needs. Desperate for work after a downturn of luck, he accepts the job to renovate Matt’s crumbling building.
Over the course of a year, romance simmers between them as they restore the house. But there’s a bigger renovation that must take place in their hearts. To become better men, they need to learn to trust each other even with secrets and painful memories they fear may rip them apart.
This was one of the sweetest books I've ever read and I highly recommend it. The protagonists are adorable and real and they took a long time to get together. No instalove here. There was so much sexual tension I was chomping at the bit, and I am usually fine with waiting for the sex. One of the hottest scenes was when Julian turns around half dressed. I didn't know whether I wanted to hug these damaged men or jump their bones.
The author really did her research. I was very impressed with the detail about restoring a house, such as what order things have to be done in such as waterproofing a roof in order before anything else, roughing in the electrical in order before the inspector comes so he/she doesn't have to come twice, etc. Overall the house repair was interesting and I really liked what it was going to be and how meaningful it was to the rest of the story.
There wasn't a lot of plot, it was basically working to get the house done and falling in love, with family drama to add a little seasoning. But most people are okay with that and it worked as well as any of the other similar books out there whose only plot is falling in love that are also five star reads for me, like Faith & Fidelity, Glitterland, and Choices & Changes. (I <i>loved</i> all three.)
There wasn't a lot of excitement, no danger or anything, but there was a little drama and a lot of concern and shows of love. The pacing was excellent; I didn't put it down until I'd finished it. Most of the characters were wonderful and complex. I wanted to strangle the mother (who was a little too evil) and I was non to happy with the father, either.
The MCs weren't stereotypical, either. (minor spoiler)
I really liked how they were different in so many ways and yet their relationship really worked.
The couple was very romantic. They had a specific way to express their love:<blockquote>"I love you, Matt," he said then softly pressed his lips to Matt's in a tender kiss.
When they separated, Matt was smiling, his eyes bright with emotion. "I love you more."</blockquote>That was a great element that was beautiful and created a common thread throughout their relationship.
There were some places where I was confused. I had a little trouble picturing the house because their rooms and office were supposed to be upstairs and yet the upstairs hadn't been done yet when they started and the office was on the main floor. The rooms just didn't make sense. I also was confused about the number of brothers Matt had because I felt there were inconsistencies.
I was also frustrated with grammar at one point. A well-educated man like Matt would use adverbs properly. "I'm taking things slow." I see this so often but usually I forgive it in dialog. But not for a highly educated man. This kind of grammatical issue drives me crazy. But other than that, the writing was very good and I didn't notice it which is a high compliment.
Another weird thing is that one character faints and the others just take him home without waking him. That's bizarre since fainting is unusual and dangerous, even from stress. If the person isn't waking up, that's a problem, and either way, waking the person up is necessary.
But these things pale in the shadow of this wonderful book. I just loved it. I cannot wait for the next one in the series.
This is a review of the recently released revised second edition only available on Amazon so far.