It’s rare that I read a book three times in the span of as many days, entirely incapable of walking away from the characters and the world the author has so splendidly woven for us, but not reading this book over and over again was not even an option for me. Set against the vibrant, summer backdrop of Long Beach’s iconic seascape, this story tugs at the heartstrings in all the right ways, making us laugh, swoon, and pant all the way through, and it’s the kind of head-over-heels romance I so ardently long to believe in. Tessa Bailey’s talent for creating a tender, erotic love story with real depth is on display as ever, and I remain enraptured by every one of her heart-stealing words.
He was loud, rude, unpolished and didn’t know Kerouac from karaoke. And yet, Jamie couldn’t help but wonder if Marcus would pay as much attention to him in bed as he did out of bed.
Marcus “Diesel” O’Shaughnessy and Jamie Prince couldn’t be farther opposites, yet for the past three years of knowing one another and working together as lifeguards over summer, the cocky but amiable ‘gymhead’ has never missed a chance to be around the book-loving school teacher. And even though needling Jamie seems to be Marcus’ favourite pastime, his good-natured banter never fails to put a smile on Jamie’s face, or suggest anything else but genuine fondness on Marcus’ part. Until one unexpected sexually charged moment between them changes everything.
“What is it about me that brings out everyone’s protective side?”
“Probably the fear of being without you,” Marcus said without hesitation.
Jamie started. “I’m not sure friends say things like that to each other, Diesel.”
Even as their every touch gets Marcus closer and closer to embracing his true sexual identity as a gay man—every moment with Jamie filling him with the kind of happiness and sense of belonging he’s never felt before—his fear of never finding acceptance among his family and friends forces their relationship to stay hidden behind closed doors. But Jamie promised himself a long time ago never to hide his true self from the world again, and no matter how fast their feelings for each other keep growing, he refuses to go back in the closet for anyone, not even for a doting, protective man like Marcus.
“You deserve someone who’ll walk with you in the daylight.”
With the perfect blend of banter, emotion, and crackling love scenes, Tessa Bailey delivers once more a stirring love story that delves deep into the hearts and souls of its characters, kindling deep emotions in the reader and a stronger-than-normal attachment to its two leads. Jamie’s quiet self-possession and control are offset perfectly by Marcus’ almost childlike exuberance and boundless energy, infusing even the most intimate scenes between them with humour and playfulness. The book’s tender conclusion brought me to tears as I never wanted their story to end. I kept hoping more pages would miraculously appear, because once you fall in love with Tessa Bailey’s characters, you’ll want to remain in their happy bubble forever.
… they were exploring something honest and when they were alone, the world was narrowed down to just the two of them. And the two of them together was everything right.
“That’s the only reason you came over?”
“No.” Jamie took a step closer to Marcus and it felt so good to have Jamie in his orbit, he stumbled back a step, his ass coming up against the entry table. “I came over here because I was wondering if you cut me off because—”
“Don’t say I cut you off, Jamie,” Marcus interrupted miserably.
Jamie kept going. “I was wondering if it was because you weren’t attracted to me anymore and had no use for me. Or if you were still attracted and that’s the problem.”
All right. So they weren’t pretending anymore. That scared the hell out of Marcus, not having that safety net of denial, but it was almost five o’clock in the morning and they might as well have been the last two people on earth. Lying or hiding seemed pointless. Especially when he’d missed more than the way Jamie made his body feel. He’d missed his friend. Keeping the truth buried from his friend wasn’t an option. “Well go ahead. Aren’t you going to ask why I stayed away?”
“No, Marcus. I’m not.” Jamie closed his eyes and laughed without humor. “Marcus, you have enough wood to fill a national fucking park. Safe to say you’re still attracted to me.”
Marcus looked down to find the front of his sweats tented to hell. He was so hard, the tip of his cock was standing straight out from his body, almost brushing against Jamie. And Marcus couldn’t control the embarrassment. Talking about his attraction to another man was enough for one night. The physical proof was too much. Too exposing.
He could feel his ears turning red as he tried to push down his cock with the heel of his hand. Not helping. Nothing was helping, his flesh continuing to rise back up, thick and pulsing.
It was difficult to meet Jamie’s eyes, and when Marcus finally managed to do it, he caught the tail end of Jamie’s hurt, before it vanished. “This is why I’ve been trying to stay away from you,” Marcus rasped. “Hurting you is the worst thing I can think of. And I don’t…I don’t want to deal with this. It’s not who I thought I was. Or who my family and friends think I am.
“Before the train, I could…pretend I just wanted to be around you because I fucking like you. As a friend. And I do. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been depressed and…” Marcus pressed his thumbs into his eye sockets. “You knew this would happen. It’s why you told me to leave you the hell alone ages ago and I should have listened. I’m listening now.”
“Only I don’t want to be left alone as much as I thought I did, do I?”
Marcus’s lungs emptied, his thumbs dropping away from his eyes. Had Jamie missed him? No. No, it couldn’t be.
Jamie cleared his throat hard and stepped past Marcus, ready to walk out the door. “I have to go—” They both ceased all motion when Marcus’s hand shot out and wrapped around Jamie’s elbow. “What are you doing, Diesel?”
“I don’t know.”