Why I read it: I heard the buzz on Twitter. The words “carrot sex” were used. I bought.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) Recently divorced and out of the closet, Noah Maitland is a regular-Joe, salt-of-the-earth guy who is newly navigating the world of dating other men. So far he hasn’t had a lot of luck. Noah is a father first — he has two teenage sons. As the owner of a handyman business in a small community, Noah wants someone to love who is also appropriate for where he is in his life.
Zane Halliday is a young man — much too young for Noah — who is struggling to take care of his brother and sister and meet his bills every month. Recently thrown out of his apartment, Zane stumbles on Noah, literally. Noah offers Zane a place where he and his siblings can temporarily live, and later gives him a part time job.
Each man is dealing with his own set of problems, and both crave someone to talk to and trust. Soon a friendship between Noah and Zane blossoms. But Noah could never fall for someone so much younger than he is — not to mention Zane is not gay. But what if sexually innocent Zane isn’t as straight as he assumed he was? How will Noah be able to resist this much younger man once Zane figures out the only person he wants is Noah?
What worked for me (and what didn’t): I read Grey’s Awakening some time ago and barely remember it now. I haven’t read others in the series but I think this one works fine as a standalone novel. Unfortunately, the novel didn’t work that well for me overall.
I felt that it dragged in parts – a lot of the first third/half of the book was spent with Noah and Zane separately angsting about how they ought not be together and how they should hide their feelings. I had thought, from the blurb, that there would be an initial development of a friendship which would then become attraction – on that basis the over 300 pages seemed appropriate. But the attraction was pretty much immediate and the angsting felt drawn out to me.
Parts of the dialogue felt very unrealistic to me – more suited to the narrative perhaps but not what people would actually say. Here’s an example of what I mean:
“I was going to tell you something like that a minute ago,” Zane chuckled, and new pink bloomed under the afterglow still making his skin glisten, “but when you started coming so powerfully, I lost myself, and all I could do was fall into the pleasure you were feeling and willfully let it suck me into the abyss too.”
I mean, who talks like that?
So, there were some problems. I did enjoy the way Noah was with his sons and I’m glad that Noah was able to reconcile with his father. It took time and that felt realistic to me. But, There was one point in the book where Zane is threatened with some naked/sex photos regarding the custody of his brother and sister. Given the estrangement between Noah and his dad, it did feel like a strange choice for him to come to the legal rescue for Zane – surely he would have had to see the photos?
The set up, with Noah meeting Zane and then immediately helping him out with a place to live and lending him his car indefinitely made me raise my eyebrows a bit – Noah’s “good guy radar” must be stellar. Zane wanted to be considered an equal to Noah in the relationship and I can certainly see how he would struggle with that. But, Zane clearly read as a much younger man to Noah – older than his years maybe but very much younger than Noah and I’m not sure that was really addressed in the book by anyone.
Zane and Noah do like to have sex outdoors – it’s a wonder they weren’t sprung more often considering. For an older man, Noah certainly has a short recovery time! And, then there’s the carrot sex. Yep, sex and a carrot. Enough said.
What else? I’m not a gay man so I can’t speak with any authority on this, but it seemed odd to me that a self described gay man (as opposed to say, a bisexual man) would refer to his heterosexual sex life as very satisfying. Admittedly, I haven’t spoken to
many any gay men on the topic (can you imagine how that conversation would go? o-0) but I’ve heard Dan Savage say on his podcast that gay guys don’t like to have sex with women. Maybe he’s wrong? Anyway, it felt odd in the book and didn’t quite explain to me why he would leave an otherwise happy marriage to go have sex with guys if everything was so wonderful with his wife. Just sayin’.