We read and review for the love and joy of books.
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Aiden is a happy single guy who likes playing the field, then gets himself roped into doing an obstacle race called The Mad Mucker after tequila with his work friend, Liv. Matt is Liv’s cousin who has recently moved back to the area, he’s a personal trainer and happily joins their Mad Mucker team. Liv matches Aiden and Matt as training partners. Aiden is gay, Matt is bisexual and they are attracted from the start, but Matt is not out as bisexual to anyone, Aiden offers they can be training partners with benefits, no strings for either of them.
The story is told from Aiden’s point of view.
This was a good read, initially I found it hard to connect with the characters mostly because Matt is very serious and closed off while Aiden is more light hearted, but the story is told from Aiden’s point of view, so if the intent was to illustrate the standoffishness of Matt, it worked!
As the story progresses though, with the two men first being training partners, then almost friends before the attraction takes over, you learn they have both been hurt in the past, which seems to have formed the personalities they have. In Matt’s case, it goes back to a father who never seemed to approve of him and it affects him, even though his father has passed away. He takes the world very personally. For Aiden, it was a former boyfriend who hurt him badly and so far, he has not met anyone that makes him want to change his mind about being single and playing the field.
For two such different characters, when they act on the attraction, you can feel Aiden’s hurt at how Matt behaves in what should be their afterglow. At the same time, the awkwardness for Matt since he has rarely acted on his attraction to men since he thought it would be easier to just date women is very clear – he is tried so hard to compartmentalize parts of his life, he is limited in his ability to relate to people, even coworkers and it comes across he does not have many friends.
As a character study, this was very well done, while it does not seem like initially the characters have chemistry, their connection develops for the reader as it does for the characters because they end up bringing out good things in each other. Since fitness is something Matt knows well, he gets Aiden motivated and challenges him to do more than he has been doing for well over a year and Aiden does not give up on Matt, even when he tries to go back to being standoffish and you get the impression Matt had a few people give up on him when he did not do or be the person they wanted him to be.
As much as this story is from Aiden’s point of view, and it is his journey to open his heart in some ways, but it is just as much a journey for Matt’s character, to trust others and be true to himself.
I’d recommend it for fans of Jay Northcote, as she writes some great stories! But for those who like romance that is not easily achieved, but the journey includes some hot scenes for the characters!