Review: Color Me In (Last Chance #2) by Riley Hart

Caleb White has been a lot of places and made a lot of decisions he isn’t proud of. He’s ready to settle down and figure out who he really is. Where better to do that than Last Chance, the home he was ripped away from at sixteen? A fresh start is in order, but he has no idea how to do that when he’s not even sure what he wants in the first place.

Ryan Daily is a pro at hiding his insecurities. He’s never fit in and has spent most of his life knowing there’s something missing. Just when he thought he’d found it, his whole world fell apart and he lost everything.

Then comes a sleepless night in a twenty-four-hour café, where Caleb and Ryan forge a connection full of laughs, junk food, and whispered secrets. In the middle of their budding friendship, desire blooms unexpectedly. Ryan has kept his heart protected after having it shattered, and Caleb—no stranger to attraction—finds that what he has with Ryan is on a whole new level from anything he’s experienced before. In a world of black and white, they bring each other color.

But life is never simple. When the past comes knocking, Ryan and Caleb will have to reach through the darkness to find the light they see in each other…or risk slipping into the shadows for good.

I just realized this is my first Riley Hart. Apparently I've shelved her books numerous times but never pulled the trigger on actually reading one. For shame.

I can see why people enjoy reading her work because this was very sweet, cozy. Color Me In is a story about second chances in a variety of different ways. Both Caleb and Ryan have suffered heartbreaks and missteps that have led them to Last Chance, a sleepy Oregon town that had me hearing a refrain of Angelo Badalamenti tunes. Don't ask. My brain is a strange place sometimes.

Anyway, both Caleb and Ryan tell their story of falling in love which I appreciated since Ryan has never been in a same sex relationship before. It was fun to see their differing perspectives on their shared experiences.

"I would never have seen this coming. I don't know what it is or where it'll go, but... I feel you. I feel you inside me. Like this missing piece that clicked into place. Your friendship means the world to me, and this... what we share, no matter what happens, I'll never forget it; I'll never forget the way you make me feel."

They become friends then roommates then more. Maybe Ryan's progression from friends to lovers was a little unbelievable but it fits into this particular romance algorithm. Ryan learns through his friendship with Caleb that he's demisexual. The portrayal of demisexuality I found illuminating and touching. He truly believed there was something wrong with him until he befriended Caleb and the weight of that burden was stifling for him. Watching that burden lift off him was satisfying as a reader as was seeing him embrace his "newfound" sexuality. He also endeared himself to me with how honest he was with both himself and Caleb. No game playing. No shenanigans. Just trying to find his way as best he can.

"When you change someone's life without trying... by just being, that's when you know it's really something."

They have chemistry and for the most part I found the progression of their sexual relationship believable. They both seem to enjoy dirty talk which ordinarily I do as well but there were times that it was a bit too awkward for me. Nonetheless, if you're a reader that enjoys an abundance of smexy times, this book will satisfy your cravings.

The conflict is a plausible one and I like that Hart refrained from making Danielle into the second coming of the wicked witch of the west. Actually, all the female characters were likable which was quite refreshing for a MMRomancelandia read.

Shane and Van who both have connections to Caleb's past and were the protags from book one are featured heavily and I liked both of them. They added to the narrative in positive ways and at some point I want to backtrack and read their story.

"You came here looking for something, but I didn't know anything was missing until you. But we both found what we need in each other. I wouldn't even have known how empty my life was until you came to fill it."

Both men seem to benefit positively from their relationship which is something that always appeals to me as a reader. There is some angst but I didn't find it overwhelming. I also thoroughly enjoyed that they both find acceptance where they thought they wouldn't something that enriched their HEA for me.

The endearments that became platitudinous is a minor quibble. I did enjoy this story and found it comforting but there was something intangible missing that I can't define that stymied my emotional connection to this narrative.

However, if you are a fan of hurt/comfort and enjoy sexy stories, Color Me In is a nice diversion.

A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

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