Title: The Color of Summer
Author: Anna Martin
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 28, 2019
Page Count: 240
Reviewed by: ParisDude
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.8 stars out of 5
Tattoo artist Max Marshall rushes into his hometown of Sweetwater, West Virginia—and is promptly pulled over for speeding. Max’s luck isn’t all bad, though, because he recognizes the deputy, Tyler Reed, Max’s childhood best friend’s older brother.
Reconnecting with Tyler helps Max settle back in, and it also leads to attraction. But when he tries to explore that connection at the grand opening of his tattoo studio—by kissing Tyler—awkwardness ensues. Max wants more, but has he misread Tyler’s signals?
As a single father raising a six-year-old daughter, Tyler doesn’t have much time to date. He’s ignored his attraction to men for years, but he can’t stop thinking about the kiss he shared with Max. If he can handle the complications of dating in a small town and the possible consequences to his career, this romance could blossom with all the colors of summer.
Max Marshall, a handsome young man in his late twenties, has relationship-issues. He has grown up with his mother in the small town of Sweetwater in West Virginia. His father has left when he was just a little kid, and even if he’s always loved his step-dad, he’s wary of letting anyone come too close for fear of getting hurt the way his mom has been hurt back then. After several years of living in Pittsburgh, he moves back to Sweetwater to assist his mother, currently recovering from a stroke, and to open his own tattoo studio. The first person he stumbles upon is his best friend’s older brother Tyler Reed, in his early thirties, who turns out to be one of the town deputies, surely the hunkiest and hottest of them. He learns that Tyler is the widowed dad of a six-year old girl, Juniper. Both men immediately strike up a close friendship that almost comes to an abrupt ending when, one evening, after having enjoyed a drink together, Max plants a kiss on Tyler’s lips, just like that, on a whim.
Both think that’s the last they’ve seen of each other. But Tyler realizes he’s always been attracted to men without ever wanting to acknowledge it. And he realizes the moments he’s been spending with easy-going Max have been amongst the best he’s ever had in his life. What’s more, Max and little Juniper get along exceedingly well. He therefore pushes back his initial reluctance and is glad Max stops at his house the next day with apologies and pizza. Little by little, they start dating, then share their first (but certainly not last) hot moments in the sack. And little by little, Tyler realizes he’s falling for Max. Max in turn notices he can’t keep his thoughts off Tyler either, even if his old demons can’t be fought off that easily…
“Easy” is a word that describes this book very well. It’s an easy read, pleasantly easy. I just went with the flow, following the blooming romance with much delight, many a sigh, and even the odd eye moistness. Both main characters are immediately likeable and easy to relate to, as are the secondary characters, all of whom seem to have stepped out of a real-life small town. Well, an idealized small town perhaps, as everybody comes across as a tad too gay-friendly to be true, but hey, a man has to be hopeful. This is a small town the way it should be in 2019 (the way I’d like them all to be, at any rate). The well-described setting of Sweetwater as well as the starting summer season make for a slightly nostalgic and romantic background—ah, those years when late June meant school was over and we were facing two months of easy-going life with loads of sun, heat, ice cream, and lots of hours to do what we wanted… The book reaches a climax full of suspense, but as a whole, it’s free of drama, tragic moments, deep self-questioning, or bad feelings. It’s a real feel-good-treat I highly recommend if you want to take a break from everyday life.
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