Handle With Care (Belen’s Review)

Title: Handle With Care (Dreamspun Desires #68)
Author: Cari Z
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: October 16, 2018
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 194 pages
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5


A fragile heart needs extra care.

Burned-out social worker Aaron McCoy is on vacation for the first time in years—boss’s orders. Road-tripping to his brother’s wedding with his best friend, Tyler, seems a fun way to spend the mandatory two-week leave, and they set out for Kansas—and a difficult homecoming.

Aaron’s mother was a drug addict, and his adorable younger brother was quickly adopted, while Aaron spent his childhood in foster care. As Aaron mends fences, Tyler hopes to show him that this time, he won’t be left behind to face his problems alone.

Aaron’s opening up to how right it feels to be with Tyler and to the possibility of taking the leap from friends to lovers. But along with the wedding celebration comes a painful reminder of the past. Aaron’s heart is still breakable. Can he put it in Tyler’s hands?

I know this is a Dreamspun Desires title, so it’s lower steam…but I didn’t feel like there was enough relationship building either.

I’m fine with no sex in romances, more than fine actually (though, don’t get me wrong, there is some sex in this), but I’m not fine with my romances being almost devoid of romance.

Handle With Care has the bones of great characters from the little we’re told about them. But there’s not a lot of background and being solely from Aaron’s POV there’s a lot of potential for growth that’s lost.

It’s definitely fast paced. I flew through the pages. But couldn’t help but feel disappointed that the first indication of any deepening from friends to lovers was more than halfway through and was disappointed that the little “romance” there was seemed shoehorned in to the last less than 20%. The only reason I would even classify this as “slow burn” is because I knew from the blurb (and the DD series) that Aaron and Tyler would eventually get together, but, for me, there was practically no romantic tension. At all.

There’s also no real tension otherwise in the story either. And there should have been. From Aaron’s overworked burnout, to seeing his brother for the first time in person in decades, to the homophobic groomsman, to seeing his birth mom, to realizing he might want more than just friendship with Tyler…but everything is surface.

Yes, it has some romance towards the very end, and it is a happy ending, but I wanted more of everything from character development to the romance between Aaron and Tyler.

Single, third person POV, with light angst, slow burn, low steam, and a happy ending.

Dreamspun Desires Series

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Galley copy of Handled With Care provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange of an honest review.


I am an unapologetic book addict/lover. I'm happiest when reading and I spend most of my time with my Kindle, which is never far from my hand. I love to be told a good story! I mostly read fiction: Romance, Erotica, Young Adult, New Adult, Paranormal (shifters? Yes, please!), a little BDSM when I'm in the mood, and I love a good ménage story. I DEFINITELY PREFER A HFN/HEA! My biggest no-no's are cheating, miscommunication / misunderstanding plots, unnecessary angst, and cliffhangers.

A sampling of my "Favorite M/M" stories:

Carry the Ocean The Half of Us Red Dirt Heart Adulting 101 Tied Up In Knots
Shelter the Sea Manties in a Twist David, Renewed Ethan who Loved Carter Perfect Imperfections
Wolfsong Fight the Tide How to Walk Like A Man The Lightning-Struck Heart Forging the Future