Vic Bronsen has a problem. He’s stuck in a rut, uninspired by his job, and in love with a man who has no clue. Thinking a change of scenery and company will do his aching heart some good, he goes off on a road trip with his best friend, only to find that the answers to his problems may have been right there in front of him all along.
Vic is a high profile public prosecutor and he has been carrying on an unsatisfactory affair with Deputy Sheriff Owen Montgomery for five years. He realizes that Owen uses him for sex and that he has no clue about Vic’s carefully guarded feelings for him, but it still hurt to be his booty call whenever Owen has an itch that he wants scratched. On the flip side he has a great friendship with North Carolina Superior Court Judge Shane Simpson and they share a similar sense of humour which makes their drinking sessions hilarious on those occasions when Shane visits.
When Vic attended a conference in Raleigh, North Carolina after Shane’s latest visit, Shane invited him to stay over and spend a few weeks at his cottage. Vic had been rethinking his so-called relationship with Owen which even to him seemed self destructive, and he was upset at himself for letting things drift for so long, so he decided to take Shane up on his offer. They set out for the cottage after a series of day trips which were a lot of fun for two men who were in such serious professions. This part of the book was almost like a tourist guide and virtual tour of many places of historical interest in North Carolina, such as the Wright Brothers memorial, because they decided to become tourists and join the throngs of visitors doing all the stuff they really hated such as climb hills.:)
When they arrived at the cottage the latent attraction that Vic had always felt for his friend re-emerged, and this is where the personalities of the protags really shone. Vic was intelligent, had a great career, was personable and had a wonderful sense of humour but had one Achilles heel – Owen. There were three levels of emotion in his feelings for Owen, the physical, the emotional and the pain, and he was at the point where the physical and emotional collided and the pleasure turned to pain. He missed having someone who would be an integral part of his life, and he was disappointed in himself for suffering the heartache and uncertainty of unrequited love for a man who was totally clueless and oblivious to the pain he was causing. Thinking of Shane who was so different made any comparison between him and Owen difficult, and Vic was conflicted about the two men in his life. From my perspective I couldn’t understand how such a sophisticated and complex man would not only fall for Owen, whose personality was naive and totally on the surface, but remain constant for 5 years in such an unsatisfactory liaison. Shane said it best –
“He’s a f**king fool for what he does,” Shane declared. “If
he doesn’t know you love him, then… then he’s a fool. And if he
does, then he’s a bastard,” he told Vic decisively.
Shane was even more complex. He was shy and reserved and extremely humble, but was also funny and crazy when he and Vic were together. He seemed like an open book but he was the complete opposite – very private and hiding a deep, dark secret – he had loved Vic for years. Apparently Vic didn’t know his friend as well as he thought he did; he didn’t even know if Shane was gay although he suspected that he might be. Shane did not did not judge Vic for not walking away from Owen because he was basically in the same boat. In addition, he liked Owen, who was just thoughtless, not a bad man, and if he made Vic happy Shane would not interfere. But now that Vic appeared to be having second thoughts about his current situation Shane had to decide whether to out himself to his friend.
Going to the cottage seemed to change the dynamic between Vic and Shane, and Vic saw his friend in a completely new light, making him more open to the signals he had been missing all those years. But would he really give up his dreams of changing Owen into the man that he thought he needed? Then in the middle of rediscovering himself Vic received an urgent phone call from Owen who wanted to see him because he had something important to discuss. Vic found out that sometimes dreams are just that, and when the one thing you thought you wanted is handed to you, suddenly it doesn’t seem as desirable.
Owen was the more difficult character to define. On the surface he seemed two dimensional at best, but as I got to know him better I realized that he was just thoughtless not mean and selfish, and he realized too late what he had in his grasp but lost due to being obtuse.
Unrequited was a sensitive, emotional journey of a man who had been in love with the wrong man for a long time and never knew that he had been chasing shadows all along. The best part about the book? Great humour, terrific dialogue, and wonderful “moments” between Vic and Shane, and at times even Owen showed bursts of a different personality which in a way was a vindication of Vic’s feelings toward him. Of course this book is not perfect, very few books are, and there were a few instances where I had issues with the characters and their motivations, but on balance this was a really enjoyable read. Definitely recommended