Less than a year after moving to Hawaii, construction foreman Nate Ellison’s wife leaves him and their infant son for another man. Months into single-fatherhood, Nate meets Andrew “An” Hoang and is slowly drawn into An’s life. Through An’s friendship, he finds himself finally enjoying his new home in paradise.
An Hoang hasn’t had a real relationship in years. With his pediatrics practice and a niece to care for on his days off, he doesn’t have the headspace for more than a simple roll in the sack. But when he meets Nate—who just happens to be the gorgeous construction worker he encountered in the lobby of his apartment building—something about Nate makes it impossible for him not to care. When Nate needs An’s help with his son, An doesn’t refuse.
What happens when Nate’s past and An’s old-fashioned parents interfere just as the two men begin to fall for each other? Will they find the means to be brave and give their love a chance to flourish?
“I’ve had plenty of lovers, but they’ve mostly been one-night stands. People I meet on the internet who are well aware I don’t want anything more than a hook-up. I tried relationships once or twice, but they never got past the beginning stages. I couldn’t—” He stopped. He’d been staring at the lines on his palms and tracing them back and forth with his fingernail, until they turned pink, but now he looked up into Nate’s face. “I may as well still be in the closet. I don’t deserve to be called brave.”
“Hey,” Nate said, trying to stop his mind from fixating on An’s words, I don’t want anything more than a hook-up. He remembered the conversation from earlier. An had said he never brought guys around. “If you knew your parents would suspect any guy you were with of being involved with you, why didn’t we go somewhere else for lunch?”
It wasn’t what An was expecting to hear from him. He had that quizzical expression on his face, like he just didn’t understand. “You and Dai wanted dim sum.”
“We could’ve gone to another place even if that one was Dai’s favorite. Why’d you risk it? It worried you from the beginning, even before we left.”
A few moments of silence stretched out between them. An blinked, as if Nate’s words had surprised him. “I wanted to take you there. You and Dai. I didn’t want fear of my parents to stop me from doing that.”
Nate nodded. Pride and admiration for An welled up inside him. “That’s you being brave. I’m sorry if you don’t agree, but that’s what bravery is—having something you’re scared of and facing it head-on. You’re stronger than you think, An.” If he hadn’t grown up with Amy and with parents as understanding as his were, would Nate have been strong enough to do what An was doing every day?
“Don’t,” An said, and there was something in his voice. A soft tremor that Nate had never heard there before, which made him want to take An in his arms and— “You’re always so nice, and you shouldn’t be.”
“I’m just telling the truth. And why shouldn’t I be nice to you? You’re the nicest guy I’ve ever met.” The nicest, the bravest, the best.
An’s lips quirked into a tight smile. “Am I so very nice? It’s easy to be nice to someone like you. Nate… You don’t—you really should stop.”
Nate couldn’t understand this. Not completely. But he knew it was important to resist. “No,” he said, and his heart beat faster as he spoke, “I don’t want to stop being nice. Why should I?”
An didn’t answer for a moment. He had his eyes glued to the palm of his hand again and he was digging fingernails into the skin there. When his words came they were in a whisper: “If you don’t, you’ll make me fall for you.”
Nate reached over and grabbed the offending hand, held An’s fingers tight enough that An looked up at him again, startled. Nate could feel An’s pulse, frenetic beneath his skin. His own breath quickened, and his mouth was suddenly so dry he could barely get his words out. But he did anyway.
“Would it be such a bad thing if you did? Fall for me?”
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
*I received the book in exchange for an honest review*
I’ll start with the only thing that bothered me with this otherwise amazing, especially for a debut, book. It was a bit slow at first, and I didn’t really…care for the characters. At first.
When I learnt a bit more about them, however, I started enjoying the book much more. And it was a great one. A man, An, married to his job and a single father, Nate, both meeting since they live at the same building, and then later, as An steps in for his partner and checks up on Nate’s baby. The guys connected quickly, but it wasn’t all that unrealistic.
An and his niece start including Nate and the baby in their weekend activities and they all grow to love each other’s company. I loved how the author showed both Hawaii, but also parts of Vietnamese culture and food through these meetings.
It was adorable how awed An’s niece Dai was by Nate’s baby, and she was an amazing character in general, although sometimes I couldn’t guess her age, she sometimes acted ‘grown-up’ than I was told she was. Other times, though, she was just a child 🙂 But in any way, she was really adorable.
Nate is also openly bisexual, no question about it, no denial, just acceptance. While An kind of still deals with being out to his family – avoidance seems to be their goal, they end up having to deal with it.
And the gigantic plus point – all through the book we only know that Nate’s wife left with no explanation. While I won’t tell what exactly happened, I loved that she wasn’t depicted as a total bitch, leaving everyone for no actual reason. No, she was shown as a human, flaws and all, but not a bad guy (woman?) in the book.
It is a sweet, slow burn, lovely book with a diverse MC and great ‘supporting’ characters, and I cannot wait to get my grabby hands on the next book 😉
Crystal Lacy lives with her loving family in Hawaii, where it is always either drizzling or sunny and never snows—which is a shame, because she prefers being cold to being damp and hot unless it’s for Very Good Reasons. She writes queer romance, mainly M/M, but also some F/F. She has aspirations to one day write a YA novel about cats.
Crystal is a long-time fangirl and writes slash fanfiction for the Harry Potter and NBC Hannibal fandoms. She has a deep love for fandom culture, and can be frequently spotted on Twitter and Tumblr reblogging pretty fan art.
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