Review Summary: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters were engaging, the dialogue was fresh and I fell in love with Cole and Brad.
In college, geeky med student Cole Winston fell for his best friend, Brad Kelly. The bold, brash charmer was everything Cole wasn’t: confident, popular, and straight. Unfortunately Cole’s secret blows up in his face, and he walks away. Years later, when Brad needs help, he calls Cole. Now a respected trauma surgeon, Cole has learned not to risk his heart and is ready to be Brad’s friend again.
Things go well until Brad asks Cole to be his best man. With both his parents dead, Brad never would have survived college or his brother’s rounds of drug rehab without Cole. The five-year gap in their friendship was painful. Now Brad’s got his best friend back, a kick-ass job, and is engaged to the CEO’s daughter. Life is great…until a hot encounter at his bachelor party leaves both men reeling. The sexual tension between the two is off the charts.
Brad has commitments he needs to keep, but how can he go through with the wedding when he can’t stop thinking about Cole? And how can Cole stand beside his friend and watch him get married, especially now that he realizes he still loves Brad?
River Jaymes is a brand new author and I took a chance on her book as the blurb piqued my interest, Am I glad I did!
Brad’s Bachelor Party has both a prologue and an epilogue. Usually I don’t like either but they were necessary in this book and helped to set the context. The story opens in a hospital where Brad’s brother Danny was in surgery after flipping his car several times. Cole had flown in to L.A. from San Francisco in response to Brad’s desperate call for help to be with him while he waited for news about Danny’s condition. Cole and Brad hadn’t seen each other in years despite having been the best of friends and roommates during university when Brad took the brilliant geek with no social skills under his wing during their freshman year. They were completely different personalities, with Brad being the typical man whore, screwing every woman in sight, while Cole was living like a monk, hopelessly in love with Brad. For 4 years they remained the best of friends until Cole misread Brad one fateful day and tried to kiss him. He was soundly rejected and left the university immediately after.
They didn’t meet again until Cole received a phone call from Brad that he needed him because Danny was critically ill in the hospital, which was reminiscent of all the times they had spent in hospitals waiting for Danny to recover from his latest drug overdose. Brad had been responsible for Danny since he was sixteen, when their mother died, and all of his money went toward paying for Danny’s rehab every time he relapsed.
Three years later Brad was engaged to be married and they were in Hawaii for his bachelor party. Cole was the best man, a job he didn’t relish as he hadn’t gotten over Brad and couldn’t envisage giving him away at his wedding. Trouble started when Cole, Brad and their two crazy friends flew to Honolulu for the party which was being held at a strip club. Through a series of mishaps Brad and Cole ended up together and that’s when Cole realized that Brad was not really straight.
As the day of the wedding drew closer the pressure almost suffocated Brad as the thought of forever with Jenny scared him. Was it only pre wedding jitters or something deeper? He had never been in love and always escaped before his affairs became serious, until Jenny, his boss’s daughter, made him a proposition for marriage that was part business. At 28 he had a great job but no money, only debts, so he decided that Jenny’s proposal made a lot of sense even though they were not in love. However, the five years he and Cole had been apart were the worst time in his life and he had no intention of losing him again, but the proximity to Cole over the past few days led to the tension between them escalating to such a level that it was off the scale. He had always been open about his sexual exploits with women but didn’t reveal that he was bi-curious when he was younger and had experimented in high school; so was there another reason why he was so unsettled?
Cole’s feelings for Brad were obvious; he had loved him with a passion for years and couldn’t figure out how he would live without him, now that he was out of reach. Since he met Brad they had been joined at the hip until that fateful day when everything turned sour. But the trip to Honolulu brought out a different side of Cole who had had enough of Brad and his attempts to have fun at his expense, and he decided that enough was enough.
Although this storyline was similar to others I’ve read, what made it really enjoyable were the emotion and dynamic between Brad and Cole from the beginning, the writing skill of River Jaymes and the sparkling, funny dialogue. Brad had felt a spark when he met Cole years ago but didn’t pursue him because in his mind his “experimenting” days were over. Being straight definitely made his life easier, but getting married was so final it made all of his feelings for Cole come to the fore and he didn’t know how to deal with them. To make the situation worse, every time he looked at Cole he wanted to have sex with him. On the other hand, he wasn’t willing to give up the future that was mapped out because there was too much riding on his marriage, including Danny’s life. In addition, he was an expert at denial and he had never acknowledged how he really felt about Cole. As for Cole, he thought he was through being Brad’s playtoy, until Brad told him what he wanted and how he felt. Where did that leave them?
If you want to read a book about a complex relationship between two men who almost lost each other, Brad’s Bachelor Party should be on your list because not only are the protagonists really likeable, but they had been skirting the “relationship” waters for 12 years without admitting to each other what they wanted and how they really felt. There’s also enough angst to make this story even more enjoyable for romance readers. However, there is an element of cheating in this book because Brad was engaged to Jenny, so if you absolutely hate cheating this may not be the book for you, although it would be a great pity to miss it.