Author: Alicia Nordwell
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Evin lost the only two men he ever loved. But he might get a second chance with one of them—if he’s willing to take the risk.
Following the death of his husband, Evin is living in Portland and raising the infant son they had through a surrogate. Six-month-old Micah is his life, and if it means no time for activities or friendships beyond his minuscule support network, that’s a sacrifice Evin is willing to make. When he suffers a burn baking teething biscuits, the last person Evin expects to encounter in the ER is Ben, his lover from college—and the man who left him without a word of explanation.
Ben knows it won’t be easy to earn Evin’s trust and prove he’s not the same man Evin once knew, but he can’t bear to watch Evin struggle to care for Micah, hurting and alone. He wants back in Evin’s life, as a friend and hopefully more, but Evin’s heart is fragile, and the years have changed him too.
Evin has been raising his son Micah on his own since his husband Daniel died before their son was born. It’s been challenging due to his very small support group, he does not have much of a life aside from his son, until a cooking accident sends him to the ER and he is treated by Dr. Ben Perez, his college love who broke his heart all those years ago. Ben has never forgotten Evin, or the hurt they both felt and after seeing him, wants to reconnect, even if just as friends.
The story is told from both Evin and Ben’s point of view.
I really enjoyed this story, both characters are very likable, Ben is not some arrogant jerk who dumped Evin in college, and Evin is not so bitter that he won’t give friendship with Ben a chance. There is definitely some subtlety to this story, the reasons for the college break up does not become a major plot point, it is actually dealt with in a very mature fashion since it was not a huge drama. The point of the story is the here and now, and moving forward. It is very well written, with a good pace. I really liked that Ben wanted to first be a friend to Evin and increase his support system because we all know parenting is a big job and can be tough, so to be doing it alone is even bigger! And I liked how the author made it very obvious that wherever Evin was going to move in his life, he and Micah are a package and his son is his priority.
What I thought was perhaps too understated, was the change Evin has taken in who he is since Ben last saw him. At one point, Ben observes looking at photos of Evin and his husband and thinking Evin did not have as much spark as he did back in college – while I suspect there is more of a story there, it almost reads like Evin was not truly happy with his husband! And perhaps that was meant as a point of what Ben wanted to see, but I would have liked there to have been a discussion between them about Daniel so you got a sense of what his life was with his husband, even if his future may include Ben. Being married and planning a family is not exactly the same as having anonymous hookups since college!
Overall, I really enjoyed this story, even if I would have liked the additional detail, and I believe most readers who like stories of second chances at first love, with the addition of kids, will enjoy this story. There is one sex scene, but it is near the end as this is more of a character driven contemporary, and there is some suggestion of PTSD, and one homophobic incident related to it, although I don’t believe it should be a trigger for anyone as the author has taken the approach to make the story of the characters the primary focus and for that and how they take their journey, I would recommend this story.