What it’s about: (from Goodreads) The man of your dreams could be sitting right next to you.
Former boy band member Justin Hayes isn’t looking for a man. He just wants a quiet, scandal-free Christmas at home in Chicago, out of the public eye. But his best friend and bandmate is subjecting everyone to his destination wedding, and Justin can’t dodge the “best man” bullet. All he has to do is get to the island on time, survive the reunion, and get Chuck to the altar with as little drama as possible. What could possibly go wrong?
Jack Bassinger’s own plans for a quiet Christmas have been dashed by the summons to his daughter’s hasty wedding with a man Jack has hardly met. On the bumpy flight to the island, he finds himself comforting a nervous—and extremely attractive—young man. One hasty sexual encounter in an airport bathroom later, they both feel much better. No one ever has to know, after all.
Now Justin and Jack must find a way to explore their attraction, despite the distractions of disapproving family members, unexpected announcements, an impromptu concert, and an island paradise that proves there’s no place like home.
20% of all proceeds from this title are donated to the Ali Forney Center in New York, whose mission “is to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) youth from the harm of homelessness, and to support them in becoming safe and independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood.” To learn more about this charity or to donate directly, please visit http://www.aliforneycenter.org/.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): At first I wondered if Justin was a bit of a jerk – his behaviour as he left the plane at the start of the book wasn’t great. But what happened next revealed a slightly different take than my iniital one so I went into the rest of the story a bit more open-minded about him.
Justin and Jack meet on a flight to San Juan – unknown to both, they are connecting to Nevis where they are attending the same wedding – of Jack’s daughter to Justin’s best friend and fellow former-boy-band member, Chuck. An airport hookup leads to Justin feeling pretty embarrassed when he realises who Jack is. Jack is more assured and seemingly not at all phased by it – I admit I would have enjoyed more of him in the story; as it is told in first person by Justin, we don’t get any of his point of view. He is a slightly older man (44 to Justin’s 29) and he certainly comes across as being very self-assured and confident in what he wants and in his homosexuality. Justin and his friends Matt, TJ and Chuck were all members of a boy-band, Rhythm Method when they were teens and they grew up in the spotlight. Their image was very carefully crafted and Justin coming out would have had a significant negative impact on his friends, their careers and finances. So he has remained in the closet and paranoid about the media finding out. The band split some six years prior to the events of the novella but Justin is still hiding in his closet for the same reasons – although, do they really hold true any longer?
The book isn’t just about Justin and Jack – there is quite a bit regarding the friendship of the band mates and their dynamic and also about Chuck and his fiance Mandy. It wasn’t entirely clear to me why Jack was somewhat estranged from his daughter. (It appeared he wasn’t from his son but I wasn’t certain of that.) For me, the story kind of straddled the line between romance and gay fiction. It was clearly a romance, complete with HEA however, fear not.
There is an ease to the storytelling which I find tends to be a hallmark of LB Gregg. And of course, there is the humour I’ve come to expect.
Maybe later, if you knock on my door, you’ll find a Christmas present to unwrap.” I worked my glorious eyelashes again and dimpled. “If you’ve been good.”
“As luck would have it, I’ve been a fucking champ this year.”
Justin and Jack had a clear connection but navigating the complicated family relationships at a wedding put a strain on it and left both men with a clear choice to make, although Jack had less trouble making it than Justin did.
What else? My only real complaint boils down to that the story wasn’t long enough. I would have liked to have seen how Mandy took the news of Jack’s and Justin’s relationship and I admit I would have liked to have seen a less rushed, more successful sex scene between the pair, as well as a little more of them falling in love. There was the promise of them falling in love, the very beginnings of it and then there was the epilogue (a year later) which showed that it had actually occurred and all was well. But I was enjoying Jack and Justin so much I wanted to see more of them together. I also would have liked to have seen how Justin coped with actually coming out publicly and how Jack helped him through the media buzz which no doubt would have surrounded it.
What was there was engaging, fun and interesting – I do like this author’s writing voice. I’m looking forward to more of it.