Title: Close to You (Sunshine and Happiness #3)
Author: Skylar M. Cates
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: March 28th 2016
Page Count: 248
Reviewed by: Ele
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
It’s hard to recover from a first love. Some people never do.
How hard would you fight to keep your best friend? Marc Lucas and Tomas Santos have been best friends forever, but now their friendship is in a crisis. When they were boys, betrayals ripped their world apart. They thought it was fixed, but some parts remained broken. Ever since he saved him from a humiliation at school, Marc has loved Tomas. The last thing he expects is for Tomas to love him back. To keep his best friend, Marc revisits an abusive past he’s tried to forget.
For Tomas, loving Marc has been anything but easy. His upbringing told him it was wrong, so why did it feel so right? Accepting who he is as an adult, Tomas decides he needs a committed relationship. To his deep sorrow, he can’t seem to find it with Marc.
When the two find themselves alone and in the grip of a hurricane, long-buried feelings emerge. Being “just friends” is no longer an option. They must risk it all on love.
“Two lives that have always been one. Two bodies meant to touch.
For other people, first love fades away, but not for Tomas. The way he loves Marc might change like the seasons, but it doesn’t ever die.”
We ‘ve seen a lot of Marc and Tomas in the first two books of the Sunshine and Happiness series. We saw them fighting, hurting, grieving, and trying to stay away from each other. But nothing prepared me for all this history between them, their heart-wrenching past, and the unbreakable bond they shared.
The story is almost split between the present, after Tomas decided to leave the house in Ocean Vista, and the past, when Marc and Tomas first met as teenagers.
Tomas was growing up with his old-fashioned, but very caring, Brazilian family. Marc was growing up with a monster, aka his father. Always hungry and dirty, always the school’s freak, always alone. Until Tomas saw him and wanted to be his friend.
Their flashbacks made me feel all warm inside and broke me at the same time. But most importantly, they made me understand Marc, who, until then, was a puzzle.
Marc is just not available. He has been through so much, he finds it impossible to open up to someone, to let another person in. Not even Tomas. Especially Tomas! Because he will see all he ugliness inside him. He wants to become intimate with someone, but his body, just like his mind and soul, fight him every time.
Skylar Cates is a very skilled author, and she did an amazing job portraying the complexity of Marc’s character, his connection to Tomas, and Tomas’ struggle with guilt.
The process of healing starts relatively early and it’s very realistic, without magic solutions. Marc needs all the help he can get, and he knows it. There is no sex in this story, only making love. Sensual, comforting touches, and passion that had been building up for years.
Once again, the Ocean Vista gang proves that friends is the family you choose. The sense of brotherhood is even more present in this book.
The ending of the story is everything! There is tender yet passionate lovemaking, an apology long overdue, and a dream “of two young boys racing into the water.”
There is no doubt in my mind that this was among the best and most powerful friends-to-lovers story I have ever read. Highly recommeded!
I strongly recommend against reading this book as a standalone.