A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn
One Sentence Review: The second alpha/beta story in a week that has left me feeling a little “meh.”
Dean Whitten is determined to make the best of yet another Valentine’s Day spent alone. But his past comes back in a big way when the stunning specimen of manhood he admires while in line at the movies turns out to be Eric Sparks. Fifteen years ago, Eric left the country with his military family, and their budding relationship met its end.
Just out of the Marine Corps, Eric finds that his dormant feelings for Dean erupt when he once again holds the love he lost in his arms. But Dean is settled in his life, and Eric is starting over. Can love be given a second chance? Will life give them the opportunity denied all those years ago, or will it once again separate the two men?
Dean and Eric were best friends for three years in their mid to late teens until Eric’s family had to move abroad, but before they parted, they had a summer of love and discovery. Now 15 years later, Dean is a pediatrician leading a pretty lonely life. Resigned to spend a fulfilling anti-Valentine’s Day by himself, he heads to the local movie theater where he runs into Eric, fresh out of the Marines. They can’t believe their good fortune as neither has been able to forget about the other in the time they’ve been apart. Catching up and making up for lost time, they give in to the attraction and love that never faded, but real life may yet separate them once again.
The novella, the first I’ve read by this author, started off fine for me. Beta Dean seems like a sweet guy who dreams and thinks occasionally about his lost first love, Eric, but healthily doesn’t overindulge in fantasy or pines away his life. Alpha Eric is trying to figure out what happens next now that his military career is over. Running into each other worked, as did the time they spent together after. It seemed realistic.
In the end I found it to be a middle-of-the-road, sweet tale, but perhaps a little too much so. There is little to no in conflict, even though there is opportunity — perhaps missed — for it. A development later in the story opens the door and I expected it to create an issue between them that would generate discussion and tension, but the scene essentially cuts off and we get an epilogue. I felt a little bit cheated out of seeing them interact when times aren’t so great.
One thing that bothered me a bit — and this will be totally subjective per reader, I think — is that they both kept referring to themselves during the time before they parted as “children,” which frankly was a bit squicky for me:
We were children then, and we’re men now…
I never thought the echoes of what we had as children could possibly last.
Then, they had been children. They’d had no control.
For me, even using the term “kids” would have been better because “children” makes me think of them as pretty darn young.
If you’re looking for a sweet-ish, conflict-free contemporary romance, then you may want to pick this one up.