Author: A.M. Arthur
Publisher: Briggs-King Books
Taro Ichikawa needs his weekly routines. Working from home as a programmer allows him to work around his constant struggle with anxiety and OCD—everything from exact meal times to his weekly dinner dates with his best friend Cris Sable. Openly demisexual, he’s comfortable knowing he’s different from most, and he’s content being single—until he breaks routine to attend Cris’s birthday party and makes an unexpected new friend.
Dell Greenwood moved in with his uncle eighteen months ago to turn his life around, and after a serious setback last fall, he’s finally healthy and heading in the right direction. His full-time job as a porn videographer keeps him busy, so he doesn’t have to think about the fact that while he seriously dated one man last year, he’s not attracted to…well, anyone. It’s easy to assume that his traumatic past is to blame for his lack of interest in dating, but when he meets and gets to know Taro Ichikawa, Dell wonders if there’s a different reason.
Befriending someone mired in strict routines isn’t easy, but Dell is stubborn when he wants something, and being patient with Taro is easy. From emails to tentative lunch dates, what begins as a simple friendship slowly deepens into something much stronger—and completely unexpected. But Dell knows that for him to be all-in with Taro, he not only needs to come to terms with his sexuality, but he also has to be honest with himself and his family about the absolute worst moment of his life.
At the ripe old age of 20, Dell Greenwood has been addicted to drugs, abandoned by most of his family, survived an overdose and has had his kidney replaced. While he loves and is forever grateful to his Uncle Charles for taking him in and being there for him through so many of his challenges, he just wishes for one thing to be “normal” in his life. Working with a porn studio, you’d think, if he was gay, he’d know, but no, he can appreciate the view, but it does nothing for him, but neither did girls when he tried dating them as that led to the drugs helping him be with them! At a birthday party for one of the now retired models who has become a friend, he meets Taro Ichikawa and the two are able to chat easily, which Dell later learns is out of the ordinary since Taro needs his weekly routines. From the friendship they develop, Dell learns there could be another label that could explain his feelings, or lack of sexual feelings, but he’s not sure he can take another way to be different! The story is told from both Dell and Taro’s point of view.
I loved this story and these characters! If you have already read the Us series, with Charles (Chet), Cris and Jake, you already know the characters of Dell, Charles’ nephew that he loves like a son and Taro, Cris’ bestfriend and fellow programmer. While the first two books were pretty hot and steamy, this installment is a complete counterpoint since it explores asexuality and demisexuality. Since asexual is explained as a lack of sexual attraction, there is not a huge market for it in romance! Although I am beginning to see more of them, which is great to see really see everyone represented! While a lot of romance have the physical attraction first and the full relationship blossoms from there, asexuals sometimes go in reverse, experiencing physical and sexual attraction only after the emotional and intellectual relationship has taken place. In a way, like friends to lovers, only it works that way for them all the time!
What made this story even more interesting is that Dell has some issues from his past, grief from what happened with his parents and his OD, to still deal with and in this book, you get his full reaction to learning Cris donated a kidney to him. As well, Taro, who has always come across as being quite put together, even if he does like his routines, has more to his story and his routines than you first may have thought. And this book is their journey, which makes the title, so perfect because both men have baggage and must learn to work their way through that to truly explore what they may have here.
I could gush about this, as it is easily one of my favorites for the year, but I do hope that people will take a chance on this story and the journey of two characters I know I have found so interesting in the Us series! There are references to drug use, solicitation, suicide, anxiety, panic attacks and mental health issues, and there are even some mild sex scenes, and I believe all of it is worth the journey for these two men,