Who We Used To Be (Bob-O-Link’s Review)

Title: Who We Used To Be (Do-Over #1)
Author: Dara Nelson
Publisher: Dare Press
Release Date: June 15, 2019
Genre(s): Do-Over, Second Chance, Forgiveness
Page Count: 216
Reviewed by: Bob-O-Link
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5


Ten years ago Zeke Malloy had everything:

A happy childhood, a shot at a state championship wrestling title, a best friend, a boyfriend (albeit a secret one but that was okay because, once they graduated, that would change). He had love, happiness……a heart.

All of that changed in the blink of an eye.

One moment he was deliriously happy, looking forward to a future with Digger Brandt, building a life, a home, a forever, with him.

And then it was gone, disappearing like the tears that flowed down Zeke’s cheeks as he watched from the back of the church as Digger married Lisa – with his father sitting proudly in the front pew. Those tears were still flowing when he walked out of that church and went directly to the nearest recruiting office. Because he didn’t just lose the love of his life that day, he lost his hopes, his dreams, he lost…..himself.

For the next ten years he was a machine – the best Marine, the best friend, but like a machine, he did it all without a beating heart. His was dead…..or was it? Was ten years too long?

Was a broken heart too much?

Zeke didn’t know. Hell, he wasn’t even sure he wanted to know.

From the moment Digger walked up behind him and said hello in that smooth, sexy voice that used to light Zeke up six ways from Sunday, the only thing Zeke knew now was that he was about to find out.

As a youngster, I would joke about going to the dentist and how, to get his attention once he was wrist-deep in my mouth, I could always grab and squeeze his privates! From just the Preface of Who We Used to Be, Ms Nelson does exactly that – after which the reader’s interest is irrevocably snatched and tightly held through the rest of this wonderful novel. Bring on hot sex, plot surprises, humor and angst, and the promise of engaging characters. No worry! The book continues to hold us in its thrall.

The Blurb tells just enough about the “set up” to inform us of what’s ahead. Ten years ago, Zeke and Digger lost their first chance at love. Can they get a second shot? The reader needs to decide whether their story accurately reflects life’s best possible options, or whether it is merely a fictional wish. As a sucker for coup de coeur, and believing in instant, enduring love, I opt for the former. These are men to whom we quickly become committed, avidly rooting for their success. Somewhat breathlessly, we are also allowed to observe their spectacular physical couplings.

As with many second chances, Zeke and Digger know that this time around they are in for all or nothing. It’s their last chance and they aren’t likely to survive a failure. The effort requires, first, acceptance, and then willingness to invest everything they are. In this cross between Victorian romance and soap opera, the heroes’ risks are the very fuel for the readers’ fervid engagement.

And more kudos for Ms. Nelson’s ability to combine very hot sex with humor. “And then the anxiety creeped in. The thoughts of: I haven’t showered or douched. What if he doesn’t like it? Oh god, what if I fart?”

As Who We Used to Be is only the first book in a promised series, and as we are introduced to so many wonderful secondary characters, we can now look forward to their stories with glad anticipation.

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Galley copy of Who We Used To Be provided by the author in exchange of an honest review.


I'm a retired professional. My husband and I, each with an ex-wife, between us have six married children and 10 grandchildren. We both read voraciously, with a strong leaning to gay romance and HEA. Stories with a little (okay, even loads of) sex, and a lot of tears, always pleases.
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