Tag-Team Review: Open Road by M.J. O'Shea

Angus has been with the same guy for ten years. When his boyfriend breaks up with him the night of his thirtieth birthday party and announces his engagement to a twenty-two-year-old less than ten hours later, Angus is… a mess. To put it lightly. He spends days in bed, drinks himself into a stupor every night, and ends up losing his job and his apartment. His best and oldest friend, Reece, decides it’s time for an intervention. And a change of scenery.

Reece and Angus take off on a buddy trip across the US. They don’t have much of a plan; they just start driving. It takes Angus a couple of days to do much more than grunt when Reece talks to him, but slowly he opens up. They drive, talk, heal, shout, drink a bit too much sometimes, dance, meet new friends… and somewhere between Portland, Oregon, and Portland, Maine, they fall in love.

Which was the last thing in the world Angus expected.

Lorix - 4.5 Hearts

Aaaahhhhhh.... I loved this story! It was sweet and romantic and easily devoured in one sitting! I mean, it has my all time favourite theme FRIENDS TO LOVERS...

... seriously, a friends to more theme melts my heart pretty much every time and this was a perfect example. Reece is the boy in the middle - clueless to his friends feelings and, really, to his own worth. Angus is the hero in my eyes, he is just the best friend to Reece, even though he's in love with him, even though Reece's boyfriend hates him, even though he would probably be better off just letting Reece alone. Angus was selfless but not a martyr; he wasn't smarmy or sickening he was just a loveable character. The perfect protag for this book.

Reece - well, I loved Reece in a different way. Reece was a mess. He had spent far too long listening to his arsehole boyfriend, Brad (now there's a character to love to hate), and believing that he wasn't good enough. When we saw him with Angus though, we saw the real Reece. The bit-of-a-slob-not-at-all-organised-heart-or-gold Reece. I wanted him and Angus together soooooo badly!

The story is mainly set during a road trip (go figure, huh) where neither man knows quite where they are going or how long they'll be gone. As they visit various places in the US, from Vegas to New Orleans to New York, their friendship bloomed into something more. I loved how the different places reflected the different moods of the characters and stages of the relationship. How there wasn't one quick easy fix for Reece's ills. How the two MC's were very different in many ways, but also very , very complementary. How the friendship blossomed; it wasn't a one-shag-cures-all scenario.

I would recommend this book for friends-to-more fans. I'd also just rec it generally; if you want a happy, lovely, comforting read, then this is a great choice.

Sheziss - 3 Hearts

If you want a steamy love story, this book is not the one you are looking for.

To give you a hint, the first kiss comes at 72%. Strangely enough, I was never let down or bored. This is my first O’Shea experience and so far I can say that she writes in a quite engaging way.

Angus’s boyfriend, Brad, dumps him at his birthday party. Less than 24h after, it’s announced his engagement with a younger man. Angus can’t overcome this humilliation and pain and his broken heart is taking its toll on him. He loses his partner for 10 years, his job, and his apartment. He can’t get his head above water.

Reece, Angus’s BFF, decides it’s gone too far, so he rents a car and takes Angus far from the maddening crowd of Portland, and see where it takes them.

With each passing scene, with each change of scenery and each food tasting, their bond reawakens and gets stronger and stronger.

Until… maybe it’s not only friendship.

Despite the premise, there is no heavy angst here, but it was really smooth and entertaining. From a technical honest POV, this novel seems taken from a travel blog. I couldn’t bring myself to care when they narrate the experiences in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Indio, Las Vegas, Santa Fe, Austin, New Orleans, Nashville, Washington DC, New York, Portland… in an almost tourist way. In fact I think these episodes are told in such a way that I could vividly imagine them in my head, and made me want to go on a trip to know these places in person. They were entertaining and insightful. They were perfect for the pace at which the the increasingly close relationship advances.

The love story is sweet. They are sweet. I could feel their BFF vibes, their trust in each other. Angus realizes they fit in such a way he is impressed he hadn’t noticed before. And I realized that, too.

I have two major problems, though:

-The ex, Brad, is too exaggerated to be real. He’s a bastard, yeah, but he sort of lives out of the reality. I almost expected him to put on a colorless raincoat and take an ax in his hands like Christian Bale in American Psycho. He sounds like a villain out of a fairy tale rather than a person of flesh and bone.

-The (un)gayness left me scratching my head in confusion. So is Reece homosexual or not? Straight and GFY? Or bisexual? Or gay in the closet? Is he straight and began fantasizing about Angus and with time he developed a platonic devotion and then a sexual desire for Angus specifically or has he always been gay but somehow he managed to hide this from his BFF? Does Reece like girls at all? Or he dated boys and didn’t say anything to Angus? But then he’s not an expert in the gay sex area, so he was simply in the closet dating girls for the sake of appearances or he just wasn’t interested in any man in a sexual sense whatsoever? How come he never told Angus, not his devotion for him nor the attraction for any other man? How come they never discuss this issue when they laid their cards on the table? They trust each other since they were kids and share everything, right? So many questions that need an answer…

All in all, this was worthy of my time.

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads & Dreamspinner Press.

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