Title: Where We Left Off (Middle of Somewhere #3)
Author: Roan Parrish
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Release Date: September 26th 2016
Genre(s): M/M New Adult Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 260 Pages
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Leo Ware may be young, but he knows what he wants. And what he wants is Will Highland. Snarky, sophisticated, fiercely opinionated Will Highland, who burst into Leo’s unremarkable life like a supernova … and then was gone just as quickly.
For the past miserable year, Leo hasn’t been able to stop thinking about the powerful connection he and Will shared. So, when Leo moves to New York for college, he sweeps back into Will’s life, hopeful that they can pick up where they left off. What begins as a unique friendship soon burns with chemistry they can’t deny … though Will certainly tries.
But Leo longs for more than friendship and hot sex. A romantic to his core, Leo wants passion, love, commitment—everything Will isn’t interested in giving. Will thinks romance is a cheesy fairytale and love is overrated. He likes his space and he’s happy with things just the way they are, thank you very much. Or is he? Because as he and Leo get more and more tangled up in each other’s lives, Will begins to act like maybe love is something he could feel after all.
I’ve been waiting for a story featuring Will and Leo ever since I read In the Middle of Somewhere. I was surprised it ended up being one story featuring the two of them together. Not necessarily because of their age gap, but because they are in such obviously disparate emotional and psychological places in their lives.
Where We Left Off is a New Adult drama that’s mostly about Leo finding his way, his place and, ultimately, where he belongs. Along the way there’s also the angst of Leo desperately wanting a relationship with Will. Even though Will doesn’t do relationships.
“Look, I want to be clear, okay? I’m not looking for a relationship,” he said. There was an almost savage cruelty to the gentleness of his tone as his words tore through me. It was a quelling blow from an honored enemy, a poison kiss, an end before things had even started.
“You’re… not interested in general, or… with me?” I forced myself to clarify, pressing farther onto the sword.
And if that wasn’t clear enough…
“Look, I’m not saying this to be cute. I’m not doing some ‘Oh god, I’m awful, you don’t want me, rending my garments in the rain, tortured and riddled with feelings of unworthiness because my little brother drowned while I was supposed to be watching him and I don’t deserve love’ thing. I’m being honest. You wanna fuck? Let’s fuck. But don’t have the expectation that then we’ll be boyfriends because you’ll be disappointed. And if you do it anyway and you get your feelings hurt, I want you to think back to this moment right here, where I’m telling you it’s a bad idea, so that you don’t blame that shit on me.
I had to keep reminding myself is that Leo is a teenager. He’s stupid in love with Will, who was his first kiss, and has totally pulled a Felicity uprooting his life mainly for a boy.
But Will… Not going to lie, I didn’t really see them being together as a good thing. At first, Will struck me as the guy that knows he’s an asshole so he strings Leo along because he knows if they did get together that Leo would eventually see through all his bullshit sooner rather than later and dump him because he’s really hot and cold with Leo.
But then I realized it wasn’t really being hot and cold so much as not being able to hold back reaching for something you want so badly, but know you shouldn’t have. Will is older, set, knows what he likes, and makes no apologies or promises. He had a less them optimal upbringing and family life, and coupled with being so attractive has never really found anyone who wants to be with him not because of his looks, but just because of him.
It frustrated me that Leo completely romanticizes the possibility of a relationship with Will, without every really being honest about the reality of their situation.
“That’s what romanticizing something is, kiddo. Having the notion that it’ll be a certain, perfect way based on something fictional. Something idealized.”
“It’s in the moment that you give up that you realize you could have kept going. It’s also the moment it’s too late.”
I honestly spent 90% of the story actively wanting Leo to get with someone other than Will. Because, seriously, I felt like Leo needed someone else. Someone on his own wavelength who wants the same things he does: like monogamy, commitment, and love. Because that’s not Will. And I felt for Will, knowing he couldn’t provide what Leo was ultimately craving. And knowing that once Leo realized it he was going to yank away the only real friendship Will has.
“Look, I’m sorry that what I want isn’t the same as what you want. Wouldn’t it be so convenient if we all agreed about everything and wanted the same things?”
“Don’t! Don’t make it sound ridiculous that it hurts my fucking feelings to sit here on this couch with you after a month of basically living together and sleeping together and hanging out together and say that I like you and wish it could continue.”
“Well then stop acting like I’m deliberately harming you by telling the truth when you ask for it. I’m not a monster! I’m not a terrible person or a mean person because I don’t want what you want. And I’m not a sad person or a cold person just because I don’t feel everything that you do!”
I felt far more connected to Will than I did to Leo, which I thought is odd since this is completely from Leo’s POV. But perhaps it’s because Leo is so young, and so terribly naive about some things, or maybe because I understood where Will was coming from most of the time. But in the end this is a romance where Will changes, and molds himself more closely to the ideal that Leo dreams of in order for their relationship to work.
Then there is a whole side story about Will’s sister and her kids, which, to be honest, I thought was left unsatisfactorily unresolved. I struggled to understand what, if anything, it brought the story.
The writing is on par with the other stories in the series, and Parrish certainly delivers the heat (eventually) as well.
But, once again, I find myself wishing for multiple POV and wishing I bought into the relationship side of the story more, which is where my focus was on. The whole coming of age drama, which is most of the story, just didn’t really strike a resounding chord with me. I understand this is ultimately about Leo’s growth. I just didn’t need to read so much about his classes, and friends, and boss, and yoga.
All in all, though the writing is good, this one didn’t really work for me. But I think those who love New Adult coming of age stories with a sprinkling of relationship angst, some sexy times, and a HFN that holds a glimmer of possibility for more will probably be head over heels for this.