Rory was Ben's oldest and best friend until senior year of high school, when they confessed they'd harbored feelings for each other all along. They enjoyed only a few months of happiness until Ben chose closeted popularity over true love... and he's regretted it ever since.
Eight years later, Ben is out and proud and teaching art at the same high school he graduated from. When he learns the chemistry teacher is retiring, he's excited to meet her replacement until he finds out the brand new teacher is none other than Rory Newton - the first love he's never quite gotten over. Despite a painfully awkward start, it doesn't take Ben long to realize he'll do whatever it takes to win Rory back. But it's starting to look like even his best might not be enough.
©2013 MJ O'Shea (P)2015 Dreamspinner Press
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"Fun, emotional, slightly angsty read."
Watching Ben realize the mistake he made and do everything he could to remedy it.
Ben, see above.
The Art Gallery at the end.
Love will find a way.
Rory and Ben have been friends ever since the day Rory moved in next door to Ben when they were still kids. Over the years they grew up together and something more than the simple bond of friendship developed between them. Just before their senior year, both young men came clean about their mutual feelings and swore they would love each other forever. But high school, peer pressure and the need to fit in got in the way. A decade later and Rory winds up in Ben’s path again, just like before, but he wants nothing to do with giving Ben a second chance.
I was drawn into the story from the start when a very young Ben got jealous and kicked Rory in the shins. When forced to apologize it was the first of many times Ben would be mesmerized by Rory’s smile. Then the story jumps to present day and, I was a little confused at first, but the time jump quickly clears itself up and Ben explains to his now best friend exactly what a tool he was in high school. Ben feels like he is being given a second chance at that first love, the one that got away, and the one no one has ever been able to compete with. But Rory is stand-offish and resistant from the start. As the story progresses, the friendship slowly slides back into something similar to the past and the two men become inseparable again. Ben goes into the situation realizing it’s just a friend’s with benefits type of situation, but is no less heartbroken when that nail is forcibly hammered home.
There was a lot of angst, but both men are still in their late twenties, so it is to be expected. What I enjoyed the most about this audio was getting to watch Ben and Rory navigate through all that pain, anger and hurt and try to find their way back to each other. Neither having been whole since they have been apart. But Rory doesn’t make it easy, and why should he, Ben broke his heart.
Narrated by George Somerset, my first party with him, but I’d be willing to accept another invitation. I loved the voices he gave the characters and I could literally feel Ben’s pain there toward the end of the story. This was a fast, emotional, slightly angsty read and overall, I really enjoyed it.
"Sweet, angsty-y, friends to lovers"
I adored this the first time I read it as an ebook a few months ago. The opening scene was one of the cutest I'd read in an MM romance because I've always had a weakness for childhood friends becoming lovers.
The audiobook version... Sort of a mixed bag. The narrator does a fairly decent job with the narrative and Ben's voice, but I just found his voice for Rory completely unpleasant and it grated on my nerves because he made Rory sound like a cartoon villain or a serial killer. It was too rough and deep and really not the kind of voice I want to listen to.
If you want a cute friends to lovers, bad breakup, reunited as adults type of romance with some angst, and don't mind one of the MCs sounding like he gargled a bucket of rocks and chased it down with 100% proof whiskey, then you might enjoy this. Not much in the way of plot, but it does have very likable characters.
"Really cute, though pretty angsty."
SO typically M.J. O'Shea, and a really cute best friends-to-lovers story... but there was a painful lack of communication there that KILLED me!
I want to talk about the narration a bit because I went back and forth about how I felt about the audiobook narrator, George Somerset. I think in the end I settled on "strongly like," and he helped me bump this up to 3.5 stars. I appreciated the emotion in his voice, and he sounded pretty age-apporpriate, though his voice for Rory was uber-gravelly and his regular speaking voice was a little... soft-sounding for what I imagined for Ben. However, I always like when I feel like a narrator is in it. Like, fully committed. I'll give it to George Somerset, he really gave it his all. I think I'd listen to more stuff from him in the future.
In terms of the book itself, I think the strongest part was Ben's little group of friends. I loved Fen (I DIED when I saw he has his own book in the series! I knew you were a little toooo interested in the gay clubs, Fen!) and their little teacher clique. Sure, it didn't actually feel like they were teachers, but they were so darn CUTE that I sort of forgave this book its mistakes.
The whole moving from not speaking to sort of friends, to friends, to friends-with-benefits, and so forth was pretty predictable, as was a lot of the drama that came later. Still, I couldn't help but fall in love with this story a little. It was an easy and adorable listen, and I think most M.J. fans will enjoy this one.
**Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review**
""Always Have 💞 Always Will""
"Always have, Always will." <--- That should have been the title of this book.
As the story goes on, it gets better and better.
I do wish the heart breaking events between Rory and Ben when they were in high school, hadn't been jumped over and rushed to get to the future. I wanted to be in the moment when Rory had his heart broken because you're able to be in the moment and really feel when Ben's heart is broken.
I just felt as though a huge chunk of their life was missing because that senior year was passed over and mentioned in bits and pieces when they meet up again 8 years later.
The performance was good but I couldn't help wanting it to be Matt Baca's or Sean Crisden's voice. They are both so fantastic at being able to create animated voices for the main characters that's different but likable.
Oh how I loved Ben's voice in this but I couldn't stand Rory's voice, it was too gravelly. Make no mistake, the performer did a decent job but I had to get use to his soft (almost a whisper), somewhat slow speaking style.Anyway, this was definitely a beautifully told entertaining love story.
And, I appreciated how both Ben and Rory were able to still act like adults, even during those awkward scenes. I never once hated either character but was able to understand and feel for both of them and the decisions they made.
So, although I would have very much appreciated about another 30 minutes to an hour in this story to get the full events of their senior year in high school, I was able to come to terms with how broken Rory had been and how much Ben did love Rory.
Truly, a very beautiful love story!
-happy sigh- "Always Have 💞 Always Will"
"I Love This Law"
George Somerset is a wonderful narrator who is great with distinctive voices and he emotes very well.
Offhand, I can't think of one.
Fen. He was quite funny but also very sensitive and such a good friend. I'd love a story about him.
Whoever is reading these reviews, more Somerset please. M. J. (Hint, hint).
"payback the one you love."
I liked this story because everyone deserves at least one chance to fix a wrong. It took Rory a bit longer than I would have hoped, but in the end we got out HEA. I wish there had been an epilogue though....
"Great narrator but too much angst for me"
So this story really didn’t resonate with me. Basically, Rory and Ben meet at 7 years old, grow up as best friends and fall in love in high school. Ben screws it up by choosing popularity over Rory. Eight years later, they end of working together. Ben has always regretted what he did and proceeds to try to win Rory back. On the surface it is a sweet story but it is told from Ben’s POV only. So much of the story is in Ben’s head while he misunderstands and second guesses himself until I almost go blind with all my eye rolling. I just thought Ben came off as a whiney doormat. In addition, because we don’t know what Rory is thinking about all this until the end, he came off as an insensitive jerk. The author tries to explain it at the end, but it just fell flat for me. The only way I got through this is through the talent of the narrator. He earned the book an extra star because he does a great job with a really weak and predictable story.
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