Title: One Real Thing
Author: Anah Crow and Dianne Fox
Publisher: Carina Press
Buy Link: Buy Link One Real Thing
Genre: M/M contemporary romance
Length: 65, 200 words
Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
A marvellous friends to lovers romance containing two flawed, but very engaging, heroes.
Nick Addison has taken care of Hollister Welles since college. Though the responsible grad student and the uninhibited partier were total opposites, they had always shared an inexplicable bond. Nick knows he should stop saving the out-of-control Holly, but when Holly hits rock-bottom hard—and publicly—he can’t resist coming to his rescue one last time. Can’t resist the feeling of having Holly need him again.
Bringing Holly back to New York City, Nick gives Holly the chance to face his demons and break his dangerous habits—while keeping Holly’s presence a secret from Nick’s wife. He doesn’t want to face Caroline’s hatred of Holly…or the reasons she might have to resent him.
Then the tables are turned. Just as Holly pulls himself together, Nick’s life falls apart. Now it’s up to Holly to bring Nick back from the brink—and to make Nick finally face the desires he’s long denied.
This book had a lot going for it before I even metaphorically opened its pages. Firstly, for me these authors have always written consistently good books and secondly, I love friends to lovers stories. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed as this turned out to be one of the best friends to lovers stories I’ve read for a while.
The book begins with our hero, Nick, who lives a nice comfortable life with his wife and well respected job as a political reporter. His friend from college days, Holly, isn’t fairing so well as his lifestyle of endless partying, drugs and alcohol have left him in the tabloid papers after being publicly dumped by a starlet. Nick has tried to stay out of Holly’s business over the years but when he reads of Holly’s latest escapade, Nick finds himself on a plane and heading to LA on a mission to save his friend.
The narrative in the story alternates between both of the heroes, so right from the start we know how the two men feel about each other. Holly has been in love with Nick for years, and really the same could be said for Nick except that he’s hidden it behind layers of needing to be in control and living what he would foolishly consider the ‘perfect life’. Knowing the score from the start meant that I could sit back and watch as these authors expertly interweave a story which brings these men closer and closer together, one which exposes all the self-doubt and lies that the two men have hidden behind for years. It was a truly satisfying experience. it was also a lengthy process which takes place over a lot of pages. Those expecting a quick hook up or for things to be resolved easily are going to be disappointed as this is a detailed character study of two flawed men, and sometimes two frustrating men, making the slow painful realisation that they need to be with each other. I really believed that too. Nick and Holly complement each other wholly, and I was delighted to take that journey of self discovery with both of them.
I also liked the fact that both men need to undergo a journey in this book. Often in romance books there is one man who needs to take a journey of self-discovery and another who supports him through that. In this book both men have to reassess their lives and as a result there is a swapping of roles and a sharing of support. I thought this quite unusual and it added greatly to my reading pleasure.
You may be wondering why I haven’t given this the full five stars. There were a couple of things which irked me a little and so prevented me from having the ‘wow’ experience I often have with a five star read. Firstly was the character of Caroline, Nick’s wife. She has little or no redeeming features and yet Nick loves her, or at least he tells us that he loves her even though his actions actually say otherwise. I couldn’t understand why Nick was married to her, or why he loved her when she was such a prize bitch. I might have understood it more if she’d grown over the years to be the cold hearted, society-centred woman she is when we meet her, but no, Nick tells us that she’s always been that way. Certainly her behaviour makes it so that I had no sympathy for her later in the book, but I would have liked to have known more about Nick’s reasons for marrying her so that I could understand him a little better.
My second niggle is only minor. About thirty pages towards the end of the book the relationship between the heroes starts taking a turn into D/s territory. It’s only minor and more to do with Holly wanting to serve Nick and with Nick’s strong wish to protect Holly than BDSM. It didn’t feel tacked on, and was more an extension of the way their feelings have always been for each other, but I also didn’t feel it was wholly necessary to the story either so it bothered me a little.
However, these were only very minor niggles in what was a really terrific contemporary romance. I greatly enjoyed reading this story which was strong on characterisation, both in the main and secondary characters, and realistically charted the developing emotions of two long time friends into a romantic and sexual relationship. Highly recommended to all those who love friends to lovers romances or who are looking to read a well written and very entertaining story.