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.