Title: All He Ever Needed
Author: Cate Ashwood
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: September 19, 2018
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Friends to Lovers
Page Count: 178 pages
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Some secrets are too heavy to hold on to forever.
For Ethan, pretending has become second nature. After all, he’s spent the last decade pretending to be straight, pretending to be happy, and pretending he isn’t desperately in love with his best friend. But in a single moment of raw honesty, all those lies come crashing down around him and he’s left wondering what to do next.
When Jase learns his best friend is going through a breakup, his first instinct is to come to Ethan’s rescue, and he knows just the thing to help. The cabin where they spent summers as kids is sitting vacant, and a week there is the perfect remedy to start healing a broken heart.
In the seclusion of the mountains, long-buried fears and emotions take their friendship into unexplored territory that will either bring them closer together… or tear everything apart.
Ethan and Jase have been friends since second grade and they have an easy demonstrative relationship and a solid foundation … which gets shaken when Ethan breaks up with his long-time girlfriend Allison, who he has been dating since he was 13 (and they have been living together in a house for the past four years while attending college!) While Ethan may be precocious in the area of relationships, it has taken him a while to finally realize that he is gay.
Jase takes his best friend to the cabin where they spent many happy summers as kids, and after Jase acknowledges he is probably bi (as in, in about one or two hot seconds), they share a very sexy, very sweet week together. Their close friendship turns into a low-angst romance, until the two head back to the real world. There, Jase is less than willing to immediately come out to his friends, family and fellow firefighters and almost runs away from any confrontation with Ethan. The story has a sweet HEA, but it takes a while to get there (once you get past Jase’s somewhat annoying co-workers).
“All He Ever Needed” hit it out of the ballpark with the friends-to-lovers theme, but the whole age / time frame of the story seems off to me. Jase mentions at the lake that they had been best friends since second grade, and then later says “Of course, you should have fucking said something, E. You should have said something a decade ago. Or two.” (my boldface) Ethan mentions that “everyone else I knew had started checking off their life boxes. Careers or partners or houses. Some of my friends had started on their 401(k)s and investment portfolios.” Also, it appears Jase has worked as a firefighter for several years. For these reasons, Ethan and Jase “read” older than 22 year olds, and it wasn’t entirely clear to me why the two MCs need to be so young for the purposes of the plot. Of course, I realize that this obsession with the ages isn’t going to distract from the story for most readers. 3.5 stars for “All He Ever Needed.”
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