Love is beautiful. Love is timeless. Love is love. You can package it whichever way you wish, but nothing can take away from the fact that finding true love is also one of life’s greatest and rarest gifts. And while love can sometimes be an illusive foe in real life, it is never scarce in fiction, an endless number of fairy-tale romances feeding the dreamers in all of us. But then once in a while a very special book comes along giving us one of the most beautiful love stories ever told, one that transcends time, distance, gender, religion, or current opinion on whom we should or shouldn’t love, and shows us the true meaning of love. This was that book for me. This was the book that fed my own hope. And this was the book that redefined love in my eyes.
“I don’t regret anything. You made me the man I am today.”
Avery Adams is the charming and confident grandson of a former US President, a prominent lawyer in his own right and a man with a bright political future ahead of him, but Avery is a man whose high profile life forces him to separate his public persona from his personal one. His love life is nothing more than a string of meaningless sexual encounters with men he rarely has any interest of seeing again. When he walks into a little Italian restaurant in the middle of Minnesota, he has no idea that night would become the most important night of his life.
“Any doubt or reservation Avery had been able to muster fled as he looked up into Kane’s blue eyes and realized he’d met his one. Kane was meant for him. A chance dinner at a Midwestern restaurant had produced his other half. Who would have thought?”
Kane Dalton is a successful restaurateur, a man who justifies his own lack of a stable love life by putting his work first, but his reasons for never truly committing to someone heart and soul can be traced all the way to the frightened eighteen-year-old son of a pastor whose family kicked him out when he told them he was gay, with not a dime to his name, and no one to call his own anymore. Kane does not hide his sexuality, but his father’s cruel parting words have never left him, making him believe deep inside that God condemns men like him and that happiness would never be given to someone who chooses to live their life in sin.
When Kane and Avery meet, the spark of electricity between them is unquestionable, their attraction palpable, but nothing about their first night together feels temporary or finite. Their personalities complement each other, their priorities in life are perfectly aligned, their feelings for one another mirror each other from the moment they lay eyes on one another, and there is no doubt in anyone’s eyes that they are each other’s true match.
“You have to feel it. I can’t be alone in this.”
This is a stunning love story that spans over four decades and it managed to move me profoundly at each pivotal moment in these two men’s lives. Their devotion and pure love for one another are the constant thread in the story, showing us how uncomplicated love can truly be when two people put each other first, always. Their story also shows how resilient and stubborn love can be, how important it is to accept ourselves before others can accept us, what the true meaning of family is, and how BEAUTIFUL life can be when the person standing beside you loves you unconditionally and supports everything that you are and everything that you do. Kane and Avery’s timeless romance, however, does not focus solely on them being a same sex couple – their love is and remains the focal point of the story until the very last page. I adored this book, I cannot remember the last time a story made me smile or cry so many times, its incredible pace being one of its greatest features. And while I plan on re-reading this book in the very near future, I must admit the ending was the only thing I did not fully connect with, for very personal and purely subjective reasons. I am not sure this was the ending this story needed, but I trust and admire this author’s talent enough to respect her choice.
Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned m/m reader or if you’re stumbling into this genre for the very first time, I urge you to give this extraordinary book a chance. I have no doubt whatsoever that it will leave you speechless. And on a personal note, I’m hoping that Oscar Wilde got it right when he said that “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life”, because with stories like these, I’ll never stop hoping.
“We’re gay, we’re in love, and we’re married. It’s not wrong. We’re not wrong!”
“Honey, that was the clown company on the phone. They aren’t coming either. I think we just need to call this off,” Kane said, absently placing the phone back on the wall mount. Avery was packing the last of the hotdogs and chips into a grocery bag, not paying him any attention. Autumn and Robert were bundled up head to toe in their matching snowsuits and snow boots. They stood waiting by the back garage door, both children stood staring up at him and Avery. Uncertainty, as well as maybe some disappointment were clear in their eyes. Kane couldn’t help his small smile as he looked back at their children. Avery had even added decorative birthday party hats on top of their already tied hoods.
Today was their sixth birthday party, and a late in the season snow storm was just beginning to blow in. The giant tent, ponies, and caterer had already canceled this morning as the unexpected, unwanted storm began to build outside.
“We don’t need that stuff! We got this birthday party thing down! It’s not every day your children turn six years old!” Avery declared, grabbing the bag and the juice boxes, heading toward them. “We’re the Adams! We don’t need anything but ourselves to make this a great birthday party! Right?” No one answered as Avery walked past them and opened the garage door, letting the ice cold air in, chilling them all.
“Let’s go! Pile in the truck for birthday party time!”
* * *
“Incoming, Robert! Watch yourself!” Avery yelled, diving in front of Robert, taking him off his feet seconds before a snowball would have hit him squarely in the face. Avery tried for a tuck and roll, letting the next snowball hit him. That was one thing he’d taught Autumn – take no prisoners, and his sneaky little daughter had let Granddaddy Paulie and Kane distract Robert while she came in from the side.
“Are you okay?” Avery asked, looking down at Robert’s face, wiping away the snow that had landed there when they rolled.
“Yes! Thanks Dad!” Robert’s face beamed happily up at him. The moment stole his heart and he bent in placing a quick kiss on his son’s forehead.
“Good. Now we gotta get them back!” Avery started to stand, only to have Autumn suddenly jump on his back and the snowball in her hand smacked him in the face. She’d watched him pull that same move on Kane when they first got to the park today and now she was getting him back.
“We Win! Daddy, we Win!” Autumn yelled, and Avery took the moment for his own surprise attack, carefully flipping his daughter over and dabbing her with just a little snow in the face. Her grin matched Robert’s who was still down beside her. He quickly kissed her forehead and brought them both to their feet.
“I think we still won, right, Daddy?” Autumn asked. Her long blonde hair was slipping free of her hood, and her bright red cheeks glowed as she ran toward Kane and Paulie who were making their way back over to them.
“You did real good, baby. They never saw you coming!” Autumn launched herself into Kane’s arms, where he hauled her up, settling her on his side.
“I think Granddaddy Paulie needs to be on our team next time. Autumn doesn’t need any help planning her strategies out.” Avery laughed, as they met in the middle, close to the tent he had erected when they first arrived. The portable heater was keeping it warm, but so far they hadn’t needed the relief for anyone except Kennedy who hadn’t ventured out for the snow ball fight.
“Mom, are the hotdogs ready?” Avery yelled. She didn’t even lift the flap to respond, she just yelled back.
“If you like them black on one side, I’ve got them ready!” Autumn reached out for Avery and he took her as they made their way to the tent.
“I don’t like black on my hotdog,” she whispered in his ear. And the move Autumn had just pulled now made sense. Avery wouldn’t make her eat the hotdog, where Kane would make her at least take a bite. Robert was right there beside them, working hard to keep up in the snow. He slid his hand in Avery’s and tugged.
“I don’t like black on my hotdog either, Dad,” he said. They had double teamed him! He looked over his shoulder to see if Kane had heard any part of their exchange. Apparently he had because he was already shaking his head no. Now he was in a spot. Avery knew Kane wanted him to say they needed to at least try and eat the food, but his babies were only six-years-old one time in their lives. Ignoring Kane, he gave the declaration as he flipped open the tent.
“Mom, we are forgetting the dogs and going straight for the birthday cake!”
“Whatever they want, but get inside here quick and close that flap. It’s too cold out there.” Autumn and Robert both squealed in delight, dessert before lunch never happened! Avery held the tent open for Paulie as he ducked in, but closed it as Kane got closer.
“Don’t be mad,” Avery started. Kane had always watched their diets so closely. He knew those hotdogs weren’t just run of the mill, grocery store wieners. They were quite possibly handmade chicken hotdogs from a health food store Kane had found.
“You should have at least made them t…” Kane started but was stopped by Avery’s kiss on his lips.
“It’s their birthday.” Avery smiled at Kane’s slightly upturned face and leaned down to kiss Kane again.
“They’re kissing again!” Autumn called out and Avery looked down to see her face sticking out of the flap. Her hood was off, her hair a crazy blonde mess but her smile took his heart.
“Of course they are,” Paulie’s gravelly voice boomed out.
“Come on! This is the best birthday ever! Nonnie has the cake ready.” The last part came out as a squeal and the tent flapped shut.
“How could I say no to that? “ Avery asked, lifting the tent for Kane.
“You need to learn how,” Kane said, ducking under the flap. Avery made sure he hid as he slid his hand down Kane’s ass cheek, only to get the are-you-serious glare in return from his husband. But in his defense, there weren’t too many times Kane’s ass stuck up in the air like that without him being prepared for more. Avery shrugged and gave a chuckle as he followed Kane inside the warm tent.