Title: Things I’ll Never Say
Author: M.J. O’Shea
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Publisher: Self Publihed
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novella (24,854 words, 77 PDF pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Summary Review: A lovely romance about best friends turned lovers that will warm your heart and make you believe in love. But be careful of the sugar rush because it’s so sweet.
Sam’s life sucks. His best friend in the world is ditching him; moving out of state to go to college and leaving him behind with all the reminders of their childhood together. It hurts like hell but he doesn’t know how to tell Ryan that he needs him to stay… without saying too much.
Ryan has no choice. He’s been in love with Sam for so many years he’s afraid if he doesn’t leave that he’ll spend his whole life alone in love with someone he can never have… but of course Ryan can’t tell his oldest and best friend that he’s in love with him. It would ruin the most important thing in his life.
And then it happens. The amazing, wonderful, awful night that sends their relationship reeling – and ends in the worst way possible: with Ryan gone and Sam heartbroken and both of them miserable without the other.
Sam and Ryan have to fix it; they need each other too much to let their relationship die. But to do that, they’ll have to find the courage to tell each other the truth about how they feel… to finally say those things they’ve kept to themselves for far too long.
Sam and Ryan had been best friends since Ryan transferred in to Sam’s school at 10 years old. They were inseparable from then on and it was always the two of them against the world – Sam the rich kid whose parents had no time for him, and Ryan who came from a middle class family of all women, his mother and four sisters. In his teens Ryan moved into Sam’s home which suited them both since Sam’s parents were always away and he was lonely. By the time Ryan was in his mid teens he knew that he was in love with Sam who was clueless about his friend’s feelings, and he realised that at some point he would have to move away before he revealed his feelings and made Sam hate him.
Ryan applied to an out-of-state college and was accepted. As the time came nearer for Ryan to leave, both he and Sam were unhappy because this would be their first separation and they were going to miss each other so much. Sam could not understand why Ryan had to go to a college in Washington State when there were perfectly good ones in California, and as the time they had left grew shorter they became more miserable. On the evening before Ryan left, Sam cooked dinner as usual and they played video games later. They fooled around as they always did, roughhousing on Ryan’s bed, except this time things got heated and they kissed each other and there was a bit of frotting and eventually they both came. Ryan was overcome, in more ways than one 🙂 and didn’t know what to say so he spoiled the mood by blurting out what appeared to be a few insensitive words. Sam was so hurt he barricaded himself in his room and refused to come out, despite Ryan’s desperate pleas, until after he left the next day. It didn’t matter how many times Ryan tried to call Sam that first day or subsequent days he refused to take his calls, until weeks went by and they still had not communicated; eventually Ryan stopped calling. Both men were miserable but they had no idea how to repair their friendship since they could not put the genii back in the bottle, and neither one knew how the other felt.
The characters were really delightful. Sam was a talented cook who loved to prepare meals for his man and the tempting aromas wafting from the pages of the book as Sam baked the most wonderful cakes and cookies for Ryan would make a ‘foodie’ of anyone who reads this book. If you’re on a diet you will have to exert a lot of self control so that you don’t check out the fridge. Ryan could not imagine being without Sam and his every waking thought was about being together, whether it was on the boards in the water or at home on the couch together, and his absolute joy at just being with Sam made me love him.
This author’s prose is reminiscent of much more experienced writers as she shows us, through their actions, how both Sam and Ryan suffered and the impact of their separation. Their emotions were palpable as they tried everything they could to mend fences because they could not live without each other and they were so well drawn that I could see them in my mind’s eye as they coped with school and everything else while trying to fix their relationship. Eventually when they had a breakthrough I was almost as happy as they were because I could experience their sadness at being apart and incredible delight when they mended their friendship. Ryan’s college roommate Kevin who was outgoing and a barrel of laughs, but had a sympathetic ear, was just what he needed. Despite the long separation, when Sam and Ryan were together they did manage to have a lot of fun together so there was a balance between the depression and silence and the good times, consequently the story was not just doom and gloom. Meeting Ryan’s mom and sisters at the end was a nice touch because it helped to round out his character.
It seemed to take Sam and Ryan forever to do the deed but when it happened it was right and sweet and beautiful – if they weren’t such a great couple you just might overdose on the sugar rush. If I had one wish it would be for a bit more conflict and complexity in the story, but I guess you can’t have everything. 🙂 I have not been as undecided about a rating in a long time as I have been for this book, and I wavered between 4.25 and 4.5 stars for a couple of hours, but eventually decided to go with 4.5 because of all the love between the covers.
M.J. O’Shea has written a book for the true romantic in all of us. You will fall in love with Sam and Ryan and root for them, and she just might make a believer of those who are cynics. If you love romance you should not miss Things I’ll Never Say. Definitely recommended!