Note: This ARC was provided by the authors via Michelle Slagan in exchange for an honest review.
I suck in a deep breath, and then Lucas does too. And when he murmurs, "I want you," with his mouth against my ear, there's no possible response except to whisper, "Then take me."
I've said plenty a time that Christina Lee is one of my all-time favorite authors. Her books have never failed to evoke a myriad of emotions within me, her stories leaving me with a smile in my heart, and her characters inspiring me to believe that maybe everyone does get a happily ever after. When she informed her readers that she was teaming up with Nyrae Dawn, my mouth literally hung open for a good half a minute in shock. After all, the idea of Christina creating not just a standalone but an entire series with the author of one my favorite series from last year, Blackcreek (written using the pen name Riley Hart), seemed to good to be true. But nope, it's true, and what a writing these two have made and what an initial foray into their team-up they've put together with Touch the Sky, the series starter for Free Fall. Theirs is a formula that I wouldn't hesitate to go back to again and again because Christina Lee plus Nyrae Dawn equals priceless new adult M/M romance gold. No question about it, they've "got this". Boy, do they ever.
Lucas Barnett and Gabriel Stewart met online when they were both sixteen. They became each other's lifeline, anchored by their friendship and mutual need to simply have someone out there who will accept them for who they are and offer the support and understanding they crave. They made plans to live with a freedom neither one was familiar with once they hit eighteen and meet up in West Hollywood and start anew. But even the best laid plans can go awry for and go awry they did for these two best friends who knew each other's secret hopes, pains, and dreams and invested heavily in their year-long friendship. Five years go by before fate intervenes. Lucas and Gabriel have indeed made it to WeHo, albeit separately, and the reunion stirs up feelings of anger as Lucas recalls the sense of hurt and abandonment Gabriel's silence brought him. Gabriel wants nothing more than the opportunity to explain why he was nowhere to be found, and all he wishes for now is that Lucas will listen and maybe, just maybe, they can be friends again.
A year's worth of trust and friendship can be easily outweighed by five years' worth of resentment, and the Lucas and Gabriel that met at sixteen aren't the Lucas and Gabriel that finally meet in person at twenty-two. Their story is all about second chances, not just in terms of their friendship but in terms of their respective lives. They both had dreams that they shared with one another, but even though they made it to one place they believed would be the starting point of those dreams coming true, reality has left them jaded. Lucas still wants to soar through the sky and above the steel and concrete backdrop Lucas will create and Gabriel still wants to build skyscrapers that will touch the very sky Lucas will be flying through. Five years after they last reached out to one another, they're still stuck, with even the smallest steps they try taking forward weighed down by doubts and insecurities. Their rekindled friendship that quickly evolves into a predestined love makes them want to believe again, but these two have very serious issues.
These two were Lucas and Gabriel, but to each other, they were Luke and Gabe. I won't go into too much detail any longer because I seriously believe everyone needs to experience this book for themselves, but what I will say is that this is the kind of story that would difficult to separate yourself from emotionally. I'm a reader but I couldn't merely be a dispassionate bystander when it came to these two. From the emails they exchanged as teenagers that gave me an idea of how serious their burdens were at such a young age to the emails they would later write to each other as adults had my heart squeezing almost painfully in my chest. I was fully invested in both Luke and Gabe and I so wanted them to not merely reach for the sky but to truly breach their own limitations and revel in the wide expanse the future held for them. Christina Lee and Nyrae Dawn took two boys with fragile hearts and shared the story of how they found, lost, and re-discovered one another and themselves as young men in Touch the Sky. This is a five-plus-star must-read. ♥
Release Date: 28 March 2016
Date Read: 28 March 2016