Open Road (Vallie’s Review)

open road
Title: Open Road
Author: M.J. O’Shea
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: July 25, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary
Page Count: 200
Reviewed by: Vallie
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Angus has been with the same guy for ten years. When his boyfriend breaks up with him the night of his thirtieth birthday party and announces his engagement to a twenty-two-year-old less than ten hours later, Angus is… a mess. To put it lightly. He spends days in bed, drinks himself into a stupor every night, and ends up losing his job and his apartment. His best and oldest friend, Reece, decides it’s time for an intervention. And a change of scenery.

Reece and Angus take off on a buddy trip across the US. They don’t have much of a plan; they just start driving. It takes Angus a couple of days to do much more than grunt when Reece talks to him, but slowly he opens up. They drive, talk, heal, shout, drink a bit too much sometimes, dance, meet new friends… and somewhere between Portland, Oregon, and Portland, Maine, they fall in love.

Which was the last thing in the world Angus expected.

Yes! All the stars for this amazing friends-to-lovers story.

This is a story about loss in many forms –loss of a partner, loss of direction, and loss of self. At the same time, it is a story about finding oneself once more and learning how to be happy with a different life plan.

Angus was left by his very controlling, unloving, bastard of a partner –I certainly did not miss the a$$hole. They had been together for almost 10 years. In that time, Angus learnt how to squish all the parts of himself that Brad did not like. He learnt how to adapt to Brad’s needs in the hopes of getting scraps of attention. He hid the majority of his interactions with Reece, Angus’ childhood friend, because a$$hole Brad was jealous, even though Reece was straight as far as Angus was concerned. So Brad left Angus for a younger guy and Angus was in shambles.

Cut the strings of the puppet and it’s helpless, right?

Angus entered this severely depressed phase –systematically losing control of every single thing in his life. And Reece decided that he had to step in. So they went on a road trip.

I freaking love road trips as catalysts for change. They symbolise the journey to healing in so many ways, and the author did a fantastic job of portraying that. On the road, Angus went from almost suicidal in his self-destructiveness, to apathetic, to angry, to timidly content, to gloriously happy and safe with Reece. The writing was absolutely stellar in showcasing the stages of grief and rebirth that Angus went through in discovering who he used to be before conforming to Brad’s way of things.

Reece was the epitome of the best friend you need in your time of crisis. His loyalty was unparalleled. He watched Angus closely but did not confine him in any way. He left Angus room to breathe and Angus slowly started living again. Their way to each other as lovers came really slowly and I appreciated that because I would not have much faith in the potential of their relationship otherwise. The intimate scenes came late as well and they were very loving and sweet.

I was rooting for those guys from the get go and the way the story unfurled was everything I was hoping for.

Highly recommend this to fans of friends-to-lovers and hurt/comfort.

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Galley copy of Open Road provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange of an honest review.

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