Title: Guys on the Bottom (Guys on Top, #3)
Author: Darien Cox
Release Date: July 22, 2017
Page Count: 4,575 Kindle locations
Reviewed by: Renee
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Zach has worked long and hard to change his life and restore his dignity after the humiliating breakup with Corey two years ago. But bad luck has forced him to backslide again, and he fears that no matter how hard he struggles, he’ll always be a guy on the bottom. Until he meets Duncan, a much older man who takes a professional interest in Zach, boosting his shaky confidence.
But Zach is wary of Duncan’s motivations, even as he finds himself increasingly drawn in by his intense gaze and whimsical charm. To complicate matters, Duncan has a surprising connection to Zach’s ex-boyfriend Corey, forcing his past and present to collide, and Zach wonders if he’s really heading toward a brighter future, or if he’s once again on the path to self-destruction.
Holy emotional rollercoaster, Batman.
Darien Cox said this one was “crazy”. He wasn’t lyin’.
Honestly, this had the potential to be a complete and utter disaster. So how the hell did Cox deliver this successfully? He’s magic.
I hated Zach in the first two books. When it came down to it, he was just such a child and completely emotionally undeveloped. Every action and reaction was weighed down in immaturity. He was drama.
Now Zach is two years past his break up with Corey from Book 2. And he hates his actions from that time in his life more than I did, apparently. He’s deeply ashamed and humiliated with himself from what took place back then.
Zach’s been doing a LOT of growing over the time that’s passed. He’s matured exponentially. He’s making better decisions for himself. But he just can’t seem to get ahead in his life. He’s still bartending because college didn’t work out. He’s lonely as hell. Happiness always seems to be out of his reach.
So imagine his surprise when Corey, his ex, and Angelo, Corey’s current BF, walk into his bar. Already feeling sorry for himself, this feels like another slap down. A reminder of who was before and his poor choices.
I was Zach – the bad guy.
A sexy older man is sitting with Corey and Angelo, and there’s something there. Some spark. It’s only when Zach asks Corey why he’d come to a weird, fairy/elfin-themed bar that Corey introduces his uncle, Duncan, as the owner of the bar.
Zach keeps his distance. He tries to be coolly professional. This man is 21 years his senior, Corey’s uncle, and his BOSS. He’s also sexy as hell, smart, witty, and goofy.
Zach also isn’t entirely sure he’s 100% over Corey.
Sooooooo…….this is where I grew a little uncomfortable, knowing that these two were our MCs.
It was just….weird. Until it wasn’t. I honestly didn’t think Cox could pull this off. Not in the beginning of the book. But he totally did.
Through work-related purposes, Zach gets to know Duncan away from the reminder of Corey. It gets to the point where he sees the individual that Duncan really is. They get on well, they banter, and Zach (unintentionally) develops a big ol’ honkin’ crush on his boss. And this will just not do. It totally fucks with his new self. Though shalt not fuck thy boss and ex’s uncle.
So why, oh why, does Duncan have to really see him? Read his face, his thoughts?
“I get the feeling people have tried to pigeonhole you into a certain box. To the point you started to believe you belong there. But you’re changing now, and the box is getting uncomfortable.”
These two give into the attraction one night after a bit of alcohol. Zach thinks there’s some serious chemistry going on.
“No rules tonight.”
He thinks there might be something there, despite all of the warning signs that this is a bad idea. And he’s even ok if it’s only this once, because he knows that Duncan will still be friendly when it’s over.
I was new Zach, and new Zach didn’t cling or apply pressure or beg for reassurance.
The next part of this book got a little (a lot) real. Zach and Duncan see each other, but only casually. Zach is his new self. He is falling harder and harder for Duncan, but is constantly getting reminders that he isn’t the only one. Women and men whom Duncan has slept with (still sleeping with?) keep popping up out of the blue, rubbing things in Zach’s face. He tries to stick to his mantra of not being a jealous and possessive asshat like he was with Corey. And Duncan has been nothing but honest with him. He knows Duncan is seeing other people. But a man can only take so much.
That part wasn’t very romantic, I’ll admit. The times that these two are together, it was amazing and awesome and HAWT. But I’ll say, for my friends who will undoubtedly ask, there wasn’t cheating and it worked out FINE. Don’t fret. Zach did fret, though.
I could feel it when we were together. But I also know he was fighting it. Fighting it hard. And I didn’t know why.
Zach finally realizes that he has to find a middle ground for himself. He can’t refuse to be clingy and possessive only to stand on the other side of the spectrum and let himself be walked over. He has to put himself first and let Duncan know what he wants. Even if Duncan walks away.
While we do get our HEA, it is hard won. Zach matured beautifully. I sincerely enjoyed seeing the man he has become. And Duncan had to fight for him. Because Zach was worth it.