Author: Cardeno C.
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (300 pgs)
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
A guest review by Kassa
Summary Review: The sequel is better than the first book but still lapses into mindless sex scenes.
Not even his mother’s funeral can convince self-proclaimed party boy Zach Johnson to put aside his flamboyant ways or even think about settling down. He is who he is, and no one can make him change. But when he meets Aaron Paulson, his brother’s best friend, Zach has to step back and re-evaluate his perceptions of love and family.
Aaron insists he’s falling for Zach, but Zach is certain Aaron sees him as just another project—one more lost soul for the idealistic Aaron to save. Zach isn’t broken; he doesn’t need to be fixed. Aaron’s insistent, though, and Zach finds himself tempted. Zach wants to believe in happily-ever-after, but can he let go of his pride long enough to see Aaron’s heart?
He Completes Me is the second book in the Home series. The first, Home Again. was reviewed by Cole here. He actually liked that book much more than I did but thankfully you don’t have to read Home Again to understand He Completes Me. In fact just pick up this one if it sounds interesting to you. HCM is a better book by far but it still suffers from second half malaise as the tension drains from the book to be replaced by sex scene after sex scene with no real purpose. It’s romantic to be sure and a very strong HEA with some adorable characters so that may be enough for some readers.
The first half of the story deals with Zach and Aaron as they initially get together. Zach meets Aaron on a trip home to attend Zach’s mother’s funeral. Zach hasn’t been home in years and he’s apprehensive to connect with the older brother he never really knew. When Zach and Aaron meet, the sparks immediately fly. They spend two days together where Zach freaks out due to his issues with commitment and Aaron patiently supports and waits for Zach. This is followed by four months when Zach is in LA and they talk on the phone every night. Finally though the two get together, blend their lives, and live happily ever after. This is roughly the halfway mark in the book and the remainder is made up of lengthy sex scenes and the details of how the two are going to be so happy.
The book starts off very well with Zach as an adorable and very engaging narrator. He tends to talk to the reader a lot with asides. He explains his emotions and thought process much better to the reader than he ever does to Aaron but it only starts to run long towards the end of the book. Here Zach tends to internally answer the question for the reader, then repeat the answer almost verbatim to Aaron. This causes definite repetition to the writing and story and does get tiresome towards the end of the 300pg novel. Yet Zach manages to stay charming most of the time. Initially Zach is filled with insecurities, doubts, fears, and concerns. It seems like he won’t ever get out of his own way to finally be happy while Aaron comes across nearly perfect. He’s selfless, giving, caring, incredibly patient, generous, but he’s also deeply lonely and needs Zach just as much as Zach needs Aaron. This dynamic really makes the relationship works and shows some nice depth to both men.
Unfortunately the story falls apart once the two are together. Zach remains a likable narrator and his internal musings and quips are pretty cute. Unfortunately the story loses its driving focus though. The two are together, in love, and all of Zach’s problems and fears are gone under the light of Aaron’s love. So there is no tension and no conflict. Nothing can make Zach doubt their love. Nothing can taint how in love they are. They touch each other constantly, have sex all the time, and profess their love and happiness. The remaining story is just the various detail scenes as Zach finds work, they look for a house, have sex everywhere, meet Aaron’s friends (there’s a built in third book between Seth and Eli or Nate and Jake right there) and other day to day things. This isn’t necessarily bad for those that like slice of life details but it almost feels like a second book tacked onto the first. It’s such a shift in both character development and tone.
There are also a few issues brought up and ignored. There is Zach’s step father who abused him growing up that randomly shows up in the later half of the book for no real reason. There are early warning signs littered heavily in the first half that Zach’s brother and sister-in-law, while good friends with Aaron, seemingly take advantage of him. There is never any resolution to this problem, which is really glaring. Zach points out enough times that the behavior is wrong that the reader can’t help but start to notice and dislike this as well, yet once Zach and Aaron are together and in love, nothing is ever said anymore. Instead all of these issues are pushed aside because I guess nothing matters once you’re in love.
The writing overall is pretty clean and easy to read. The pages fly by pleasantly enough and I would have been more engaged if there had been fewer sex scenes. When they come so quickly and frequently (no pun intended, except they do both) with no further progression to the story or characters, my eyes start to glaze over and become bored. For those readers more invested or happen to like quite a lot of explicit sex in their sweet romance, then the plethora of erotica may not bother them.
Overall the story as a whole can be described with Zach’s statement after sex “it was sweet and loving and, well, nice.” For anyone looking for that kind of story, this may satisfy. For me it falls in between. It’s not fabulous but it’s not horrible either.