Oliver and Samuel’s relationship is fairy-tale perfect. They share a gorgeous house in Antwerp, go out with their friends every weekend, and count down the days to their dream wedding. But their happy ending is shattered one late night, and just like that, Ollie is left bereft and alone.
The months that follow are long and dark, but slowly Ollie emerges from his grief. He even braves the waters of online dating, though deep down he doesn’t believe he can find that connection again. He doesn’t think to look for love right in front of him: his bisexual friend Thomas, the gentle giant with a kind heart and sad eyes who’s wanted him all along.
When Thomas suddenly discovers he has a son who needs him, he’s ill prepared. Ollie opens up his house—Sam’s house—and lets them in. Ollie doesn’t know what scares him more: the responsibility of caring for a baby, or the way Thomas is steadily winning his heart. It will take all the courage he has to discover whether or not fairy tales can happen for real.
I truly didn’t expect to like this one so much.
I’d read nothing of Indra Vaugh so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out this author has it in herself to write solid and complex stories like this one.
Because, wow, this is one of those books that is built in such a effective and thoughful way you can’t stop yourself from noticing.
Let’s begin with the plot. Ollie and Sam have been together since they were 16, and BFF even earlier. They are going to get married in a month. But all this happiness and the illusion is cut short when Sam is killed in a burglary.
At this point, you are probably thinking “Oh no, not this again, drama-llama, tears-to-fill-rivers, blablabla”. I’m not embarassed to say that’s how I was reacting as soon as I read the first pages. I thought this would be the typical: overcome your last boyfriend, who now that he is dead, will be far from perfect, and cry and cry and cry, and then, voilà, you are ready for a new relationship. A rey muerto, rey puesto (dead King, new King).
Well, things turned out to be a little more complicated.
For starters, yes, there are tears, but I never felt “blackmailed” or “manipulated” to feel empathy in any moment of the play. It came naturally, nothing was forced or artificial. The duel is tough and long. And by that I don’t mean you get the itching of “Come on, I’m getting impatient, is this phase going to be over soon? In the next 50 pages at least?”.
Keep calm, you never want things to move faster, you want to savour them. Because you have already realized this is not going to go sour if you fail to keep your eyes open all the time. It only gets better.
It’s a very slow-paced love story, but a solid one at that. Every character has his own place, and it could not be played by anybody else. They are defined and believable, and sometimes they made me smile, because the friends are there but they are not glued to the MCs as if they didn’t have a life of their own. They aren’t distant, either. We get to know them very well, and worry for them, too. This comes from me, who, by the way, hates having interferences in the way. But here the secondary characters were precious. I loved Ollie’s mom. And tried to feel sympathy towards Sam’s parents, but failed.
And the couple? Ollie really loves Thomas, as a friend, that is. Thomas, on the other hand… may have forbidden feelings for a little while now. Ooooops. Okaaaaaaaay, he has had for years, but Thomas apparently enjoys sleeping around, so Ollie is none the wiser. When I think about Thomas and all his pain my heart wrenches.
But somehow Ollie begins to see Thomas in different light. He’s not ready for changes in his life, he misses Sam too much, and it hurts. But more often than not, he’s thinking about Thomas, he wonders what he is doing, where did he go, will he disappear with that girl or that boy over there and why does that thought upset him so much?
Everything is so subtle and genuine the package resulted in a gift of excellent taste. I wanted them to be together, and then I craved them being together. The wait is deliciously agonizing and you enjoy the process. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a heavy book, in spite of everything I’ve told above. In fact, it’s quite easy to read and not that much on the “angsty” side as it leads you to believe.
It’s a hurt/comfort and a feel-good kind of book. Everything gave me good vibes. I loved the pair. I read it with pleasure and delight.
I love the idea of the plot set in Belgium. I didn’t realize we were in this country until the mention of Namur and I was shocked by this because I think this is a first in my M/M experience. I’ve visited the country several times and I learnt to carry an umbrella and a raincoat, just in case. Even in summer. Once they mention a traffic jam and I laughed out loud. The novel in truth reminded me of good times.
The drawback? That cover. I mean, when I first saw it I thought it was the gay version of an Aryan family propaganda or maybe a vitro fertilization advertisement for childless families. Seriously, I was attracted by the cover because it’s not horrid, but I can’t deny I had my doubts about going for it, too.
Fortunately, the author came out victorious from the baby part. Every piece in the puzzle fit and it didn’t make me grind my teeth as I feared. Those scenes are some of the cutest, and I don’t mean baby things only, but everything that goes over the baby’s head, everything that happens between his two daddies. I wanted to squeeze them together and make lemonade. They were so sweet I wanted to grab a spoon!
In case you didn’t notice, I loved the book, and I recommend it.
An ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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