Note: This ARC was provided by Riptide Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
"He left you. I get...I get that you're still healing. And I get that I might be your healing guy and it might not last beyond that."
I opened my mouth to contradict him, but he didn't let me.
"But right now, think of me for you like you were for Vinnie. The only thing you could do that I couldn't forgive would be to leave without giving us a chance. And even then...if there was anything left of my heart...I might put it together if you came back and asked."
Every time a new book is added to the multi-authored Bluewater Bay series, I get all excited. This is, after all, one of my favorite on-going series and like any fangirl, I don't want it to ever end. So far, I'm getting my wish and I've enjoyed the first twelve books that have been published. This thirteenth book, however, disproves that the number thirteen is unlucky. Amy Lane has written a heartrending story of love, loss, honesty, and acceptance--not just the kind that you can get from other people but the kind that you gift yourself. There's angst and pain and anger, but there's also levity and lightheartedness, making the journey that Connor Montgomery finds himself and takes the rest of us thought-provoking and stirs within a myriad of emotions. I hate playing favorites--okay, no, that's a lie because I'm human and I always have favorites, especially when it comes to the books I read--but I can more than easily be forthcoming in my admission that this is among my top three Bluewater Bay books and dare I say, one of Amy Lane's best.
More than a decade ago, Connor Mazynsky was forced out of the only life he had known because his parents found out he was gay. Ten years ago, he met Vince Walker at an audition and one hook-up led to a relationship hidden from the rest of the world and a name change gave the world Connor Montgomery. Three hundred sixty-six days since he lost Vinnie to a man who chose to drive under the influence, Connor unknowingly posts a drunken video selfie, putting his grief on full digital display for millions to gawk at and speculate over. With the opportunity to get away from Malibu, California and the home that sat next to the one his partner owned, Connor makes what's supposed to be a temporary move to Bluewater Bay, Washington for a guest spot on Wolf's Landing. When he meets twenty-five-year-old Noah Dakers, a guy he thinks of as a kid--although he only happens to be about four years younger than Connor--but it's Noah who opens Noah's eyes to the realities he's been pretending don't exist and reopens his heart to true love.
Gah! I lost count how many times my heart broke for Connor. Even after a year, he continues to mourn the death of Vinnie, and it's because he's been forced to mourn in private, not being able to let people know how much the man meant to him. Connor sacrificed a great deal for Vinnie, things I won't go into so you'll have to read the book if you want to know everything, simply because his love for Vinnie took precedence over everything and everyone else. Being in Bluewater Bay becomes Connor's second chance, both at life and at love. For so long, he's been told what to do and not because it would be fully beneficial to him alone. With Noah, he relishes turning over control because the knowledge that Noah would never compromise his feelings and needs gives him the security he's craved for years. It's as if he's been waiting to be given permission to be the real Connor, but after all those year spent pretending and always having the facade ready just in case, he's still adjusting to the possibility that he can be exactly the man that he is.
This story had its share of surprises. Vinnie was an enigma and as the story went on, we learn painful truths that shatter whatever image we may have had of him in the beginning. He was very much human and he had his failings, but I never doubted how much he loved Connor. Then there was Noah, who seemed very much the typical fan when he initially meets Connor. But he's a force to be reckoned with and he forces Connor to face issues and truths that need reckoning. One supporting character that I really liked was Jillian Lombard, Connor's and Vinnie's agent and dearest friend and the only other person who knew they were gay and a couple. She wants him to have the sort of happiness and peace that he deserves and she pushes him to live again, even without Vinnie by his side, and to love again, with a man who will put him first this time around. Selfie makes you introspective, because just like Connor, you take a good, long look at yourself and choose to be who you are, to embrace the real you, and to be happy. Five-plus stars. ♥
Date Read: 20 April 2016
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