Who would you become if you lost the only person who ever mattered?
For 26-year-old Dylan Hopkins, the answer is easy. He's become no one. Memories of the happier times are all he has left, as he finds himself meandering numbly through his now dull life. Though he cares about his work and family dearly, he has yet to let himself find love again. Afraid of letting go of what he once had, Dylan chooses to keep his heart buried, where it belongs, having died a long time ago.
Conner Michelson is about to change everything Dylan knows. He's every bit the bad boy persona - tatted up, ex-MMA fighter - but after an injury leaves him unable to fight, he has to rethink his goals. Having just opened his own gym, Conner can cross his first major life accomplishment off his very short list. Next up: find a man he can settle down with and build a family. Seems simple enough - a dream most people have - but when he meets Dylan, his carefree, easy-going life is thrown into a tailspin.
Contains mature themes.
©2014 Melissa Collins (P)2015 Tantor
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This is a tale of Dylan and his journey to acceptance and love. Coming to grips about life and the effect of choices has never been told so eloquently. Other principle characters, Shane and Conner, each offer Dylan life experiences that shape his perspective. This book is well written and offers the reader a ride on an emotional rollercoaster that includes pain, shame, excitement, love, sorrow, regret, happiness, tears, sadness, and more love. I found this to be an enjoyable journey to learn and grow from...
Though the book is part of a series, this book is a stand-alone and I certainly recommend for MM enthusiasts.
"Enjoyable M/M romance in a M/F series"
I really enjoyed this story. I read it as a stand alone because I have no interest in the earlier stories of the series. After seeing reviews for the other books I wasn't expecting to like this one as much as I did. And conversely readers who are just buying this as part of the series should note that unlike the other books this story is a romance between two men. The dual narration is good enough not to be distracting. The story contains both the tragedies of the main characters' past as well as how they grow past the them in the present. Overall I was surprised but pleased that this was a credit well spent.
"My new favorite book!"
The dual narration. Having two different narrators voice these characters that are completely different mind sets, it was genius.
All of it! I really liked part 3 though, seeing the possibility of Connor and Dylan finding their happy ever after.
I have, and I always enjoy their abilities to tell stories and capture an authors words with their voices.
It was but it took me a few days. I will say, I was so enthralled with this story that I had my head phones in every moment I had the chance.
Dylan Hopkins found love at an early age with his best friend Shane. But the path to happiness is far from paved for these two young lovers. Shane's father is verbally, emotionally and physically abusive and Shane carries those marks daily. Eventually they graduate and Dylan goes off to college, leaving Shane at home and under his controlling father's thumb. Though they try to find a way to be together, Shane finally reaches a breaking point and takes his own life while in the bowels of a deep depression.
Eight years later and Dylan has reconnected with Shane's younger brother Reed, and they work together as counselors for an LGBT advocacy agency. Dylan also volunteers as a big brother of sorts for a local boy's home, teaching them how to play baseball. He's dated and had a few partners here and there, but a piece of his heart was broken the night Shane died, and Dylan has come to terms with the fact that he will never find anyone to love that much again.
Connor Michelson has lost someone dear to him as well, his parents. An ex MMA fighter forced to leave the profession after a life threatening injury at the hands of, get this, his sisters abusive boyfriend. After he recovered, Connor packed up his sister and their lives and moved them away from all those painful memories, also fullfilling a dream to open his own gym. When Dylan and Reed wander into the gym one day, Dylan definitely notices the large, brooding, tatted up owner and soon enough there is a little innocent flirting flying around. And for the first time in a long time, Connor wants more than just a casual romance, he wants the white picket fence and the happy ever after. Dylan, however, doesn't know how to move past his love for Shane, or the fact that he blames himself for Shane's death. Can Connor show him how to let love live again?
This book was broken up into two parts, Dylan's past with Shane and that heartbreaking situation and then Dylan's present with Connor. The narration as well is told both from Dylan and Shane's perspectives, then Dylan and Connor's perspective, and it was this aspect to the story that was most intriguing for me. You are introduced to Dylan when he's a teenager and you take the journey of self awareness with him. Discovering he is gay, realizing he is in love with his best friend, going to college and then having to loose the love of his life in such a horrific way. While Sean Crisden voicing Dylan was my favorite character and narration, I was so taken with young Shane and his broken soul. That poor boy fought tooth and nail to try and be true to himself and his love for Dylan, and his father was just a horrible kind of evil that went out of his way to break down every fiber of his own son's being, until the poor kid felt his only out was suicide. I was balling like a baby, full on snot slinging blubbering!
Fast forward eight years and Dylan has turned his pain into something good. He and Reed found their way back to each other and are now best friends, they counsel troubled and bullied LGBT teens and try to make some kind of sense out of what happened to Shane. Sort of karmic payback for not being able to save Shane in a way. Enter Connor Michaelson, the one man that has more in common with Dylan than they realize at the start, and the one man that will not be ignored. Connor even tells Dylan the first time they kiss, it won't go any further with us unless you give me your time. That was one of the best lines taken in context I've ever read, or in this case heard.
I could sit here all night and praise this book. I absolutely loved it! Collins made me laugh, made me cry, tore my heart into shreds then glued it back together, and I thought only Amy Lane could do that. This story is heavy, it deals with bullying, parental abuse, suicide and the darker side of being an LGBT teenager. But then there is so much passion, love, courage and strength in the story as well, I was completely immersed in this story from the first chapter. So well written and woven together with the past, present and possible future of these three guys. And it was pure genius to use two different narrators to tell the different characters stories throughout. If you like slightly angsty stories fueled by strong characters and well written descriptives that truly bring the story to life, then you have to get a copy of this book!
"Made me cry in sadness and profound joy"
This book was hard for me to listen to in so many ways, but I'm glad I did. The raw emotions presented here are real and they made me feel things I didn't want to and others that I hope to some day be blessed. Get this book, you won't regret it.
I never cry, this book seriously broke my heart but made me feel good at the same time. Very great writer I'll be purchasing more.
"-Trembling sigh- Oh Shane."
Wow! That scene with Shane was so heartbreaking!
This was definitely one of those memorable love stories that flick throughout your mind even once the story has ended with a happily ever after. Beautifully written love story.
I only wish Sean Crisden had been the only narrator. His performances are always heartfelt, emotional, and strong. His voice matches the ages of the characters.
There was no need for 2 narrators and it became distracting and annoying every time Mr. Crisden's lively voice was switched out for the duller voice that sounded much too old for the characters. Not cool at all.
Other than that, this was a wonderful story.
"It had its moments"
The story was pretty average. I have books 1-3 of this series. This book is consistent with the feel of book 1. I enjoyed the first half with Dylan and Sean, much more than Dylan and Connor.
The narrators don't add or detract from the enjoyment. The chemistry with young love was just more compelling than the adult relationship. I don't plan on continuing the series because there wasn't enough connection to the main characters for me.
Golden flax of his deep brown eyes shimmer in the sunlight? Really? People notice that kind of thing? Ugh.
And both of the narrators ... Overused with gay fiction... I wish we had some fresh voices...
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