Title: Bowerbirds (Nested Hearts #2)
Author: Ada Maria Soto
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC
Release Date: August 26th 2015
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary
Page Count: 200 pages
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Two very different men have a chance at happiness, but only if they can let go of their painful pasts and allow love to take precedence.
After spending his teens and twenties raising his son, James Maron is now dating Gabriel Juarez, the wealthy and sophisticated CFO of the TechPrim technology empire. But after a life of proudly holding his head above the poverty line with the ethos of work, priorities, responsibility, and thrift, he is not looking for a Sugar Daddy, he does not need to be rescued, and Gabe’s wealth is as terrifying as feeling love for the first time.
Gabe has never been good at balancing his high-pressure job with his relationships. Money usually clears most of the bumps, and when a boyfriend walks away, Gabe figures it’s for a good reason. But James isn’t like other boyfriends. He doesn’t want Gabe’s money for one, and if Gabe wants to keep his relationship together, he will have to finally face the ghosts of his own past and reconsider his priorities.
You know what my problem is? I’m never satisfied. If the characters fall in love too quickly I’m doubtful, but if they fall in love too slowly I’m bored. And Gabe and James fall in love so slowly here.
Bowerbirds picks up where Empty Nests left off, with James and Gabe navigating their new relationship. Things quickly become strained between the two men because Gabe wants to do more for James (once Gabe gets a better idea of James’s budget and the way he’s always counted every last penny, putting much of it into savings), but James won’t let him.
It was upsetting that James was constantly trying to keep his emotions and feelings in check, not allowing himself to really fall for Gabe. I understand it’s a product of having to do everything and be everything since you were fourteen, but it made me alternately sad and exasperated. Ultimately it’s a question of getting used to something James doesn’t really believe will last…
Gabe was rich. He wouldn’t understand. There was nothing stopping him from getting them a new computer, new clothes, a car. It would be too easy to get used to it. Too easy to get reliant on it. He hadn’t made it this far only to put his and Dylan’s upkeep into someone else’s hands. Hands that could vanish as quickly as they arrived.
When Gabe begins fantasizing about all the things he could do for James my heart hurt. One, because I know James would be livid at the thought of someone wanting to “save” him, and two, because Gabe so badly wants to be needed but, ultimately, because he’s determined to do everything himself and not delegate as he should, he just doesn’t have the time to really be there for James.
He had made it a point to text James at least once a day. He didn’t want James to think for one second that he wasn’t a priority in Gabe’s life, and he did his best to apologize regularly for his negligence.
James’s unwillingness to bend shows just how emotionally stunted he is, which is not surprising being that Gabe is the first person James has ever had a real relationship with, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating. There also isn’t as much humor as in Empty Nests. This is a quieter story in many ways, keeping the focus on James and Gabe and their burgeoning feelings for one another.
Dylan folded his arms and peered down at his father. “Tell me, do these funny mini–heart attacks and brain cramps only happen when Gabe’s around?” James didn’t answer. “And there’s a weird kind of twitch behind your eyes and some part of your brain is locked into some other part of your brain that you didn’t even know was there before but it just likes to run off on its own?”
James started to fold in on himself.
“Dad.” Dylan crouched down so he could look his father in the eye. “You’re an idiot. It’s called being in love. Massively, head over heels, painfully in love, and I’m pretty sure you knew that already.”
Ultimately the story dragged in the latter half, losing much, if not all, of it’s momentum, and then slapped me with the whole unnecessary breakup bit.
“You shouldn’t be mine.”
“You do such amazing work.” James swallowed hard a few times. “People depend on you. People’s livelihoods, their lives, their families, depend on TechPrim, and TechPrim is yours, and everyone knows that. That’s where your focus needs to be. What you do is so important to so many people, and it’s going to continue to be important. You should keep your priorities and responsibilities right where they are. Where they need to be. You shouldn’t let yourself become distracted by me and my little life.”
Gabe tried desperately to compute what James was saying. He grabbed for James’s hand. “And leaving me isn’t going be distracting?”
“No,” James whispered before quickly punching in his security code and disappearing behind the gate.
OH, but luckily Gabe has surrounded himself with the right people who encourage (read: browbeat) him to go after James.
“What the hell did you do?”
“Why does everyone keep assuming it’s my fault?” Gabe shouted. “He walked out on me. He decided that—” Gabe felt his throat pinch.
“Yeah. I got the gist from Tam.” Frank leaned in close. “Gabe, my friend, why do you think I’ve been married three times?”
“Do you want an honest answer?”
Frank responded with a tight smile. “I’ve been married three times because I married the most perfect woman on earth when I was twenty-three and I let her walk away from me. We didn’t fight, we didn’t argue, she just didn’t want to be in my way so she walked off, and I didn’t go after her, I didn’t even try, I put it off, I told myself she’d come back, and it is the stupidest thing I have ever done. Now she’s married to a great guy, has a successful business, and has three beautiful kids that aren’t mine, and if I thought for one second I could have her back, I would walk away from all of this. I’d leave you, Nate, I’d burn TechPrim to the fucking ground if it meant having Claire back for even one day.”
Gabe stared at Frank, unsure what to say. He remembered Claire. He had liked Claire—everyone had liked Claire—and when she walked out, Frank had spent a couple of days drunk and then got back to work. They’d had deadlines to meet. “I have to be in a meeting,” is what Gabe finally said.
“You need to take a close look at your priorities, and don’t be a fucking moron.”
I felt puzzled as to why it was Gabe who was getting beat up by everyone for their break-up, when it wasn’t his fault or decision. It wasn’t even for a good reason. No one got on James’s case and he was the instigator but it was all up to Gabe to fix?
They do eventually have their big make-up scene, but I’ll admit I felt letdown by it. Nothing really gets resolved and I didn’t feel like I got the HEA I so desperately needed.