Author: A.M. Arthur
Publisher: Briggs-King Books
Summary: Reformed party animal Barrett McCall now takes life one day at a time, grateful for each new one that he has. His job as a short-order cook at Dixie’s Cup pays the rent, and he likes living in small-town Stratton, Pennsylvania. When his apartment is destroyed in a fire, Barrett’s boss Dixie steps in with an offer to rent her finished basement, and he eagerly accepts—except this puts his solitary life on a collision course with Dixie’s nephew: arrogant high school art teacher Schuyler Rhodes.
Schuyler paid the reticent Dixie’s Cup cook little mind until Barrett moved into Aunt Dixie’s basement apartment. Now they seem to run into each other everywhere, and the sexual attraction between them is undeniable—only Schuyler is protecting a tragic secret. Fifteen years ago, Schuyler’s teenage cousin Matty drowned in a nearby lake. Everyone believes it was an accident, but Schuyler knows the truth—and so does the culprit.
Even though Barrett and Schuyler’s physical chemistry is explosive from their first kiss to more hands-on explorations, Schuyler’s guilt insists that he keep Barrett at arm’s length. Barrett exercised his own personal demons years ago, and he wants to help Schuyler do the same so their fledgling relationship has a chance to thrive. But when the other witness to Matty’s death unexpectedly shows up in town, Schuyler is forced into a deadly confrontation that may cost him his relationship with Barrett—and possibly even his own life.
Review: This very satisfying sequel to the first book of the series, features Schuyler and Barrett, who were introduced in Cost of Repairs. Dixie’s nephew Schuyler wasn’t entirely likable then, but improved in this story when he meets Barrett. The romance between the two was balanced, especially when Barrett called the arrogant Schuyler on his crap, yet found ways to help him deal with it less destructively. It’s one of the first books I recall that had primarily frottage scenes and they are extraordinarily hot! The scene of Barrett drawing the angels wings was beautiful.
This is my second reading and I had more reservations about the two characters this time. While it’s still a satisfying romance, I didn’t get the same sense of empathy towards the past influencing the characters behaviors. Mostly with Schuyler, although I got some niggles with Barrett. The ending is very suspenseful though and I would never have guessed the exact circumstances that drove Schuyler to drink every year. My collection of A.M. Arthur books grew rapidly once I started this series, yet I didn’t get to all of them. Book 3 will be completely new to me. I’m certainly not worried about liking it any less than the rest! If you prefer hurt/comfort stories with substance and well-crafted angst, it hard to find many authors that do it better.