Evan Costa learned from a very early age that there was no such thing as unconditional love and that it was better to settle for what you could get instead of expecting the world to give you what you need. As Ethan, porn model for Johnnies, he gets exactly what he wants—comradeship and physical contact on trade—and he is perfectly satisfied with that. He’s sure of it.
Jonah Stevens has spent most of his adult life helping to care for his sister and trying to keep his beleaguered family from fraying at the edges. He’s had very little time to work on his confidence or his body for that matter. When Jonah meets Ethan, he doesn’t see the hurt child or the shamelessly slutty porn star. He sees a funny, sexy, confident man who—against the odds—seems to like Jonah in spite of his very ordinary, but difficult, life.
Sensing a kindred spirit and a common interest, Ethan thinks a platonic friendship with Jonah won’t violate his fair trade rules of sex and touch, but Jonah has different ideas. Ethan’s pretty sure his choice of jobs has stripped away all hope of a real relationship, but Jonah wants the whole package—the sexy man, the vulnerable boy, the charming companion who works so hard to make other people happy. Jonah wants to prove that underneath the damage Ethan has lived with all his life, he’s still gold with promise and the ability to love.
Evan Costa disclosed to his mother at 5 years old that he’d been molested and while his mother got him the therapy he needed, she was forever changed. Their traditional Italian family became a frigid no-touching zone and Ethan’s damage became the entire family’s damage. At eighteen, away at college, and driven by his overwhelming need for human contact, Evan becomes Ethan, a porn star with Johnnies, where he can get the human contact he needs… though the “forbidden” nature of the business causes him shame, perhaps adding to the residue from his earlier experience.
Two years into his “career”, when Ethan meets Jonah Stevens the two are drawn together. Yet how can Ethan confess to, or expect Jonah to accept, what he does for a living? Adding to this drama are Jonah’s own problems with separated parents and a sister with a terminal illness.
Yes, everyone has their problems and Amy Lane’s characters more than most and yet for the most part this is a story of good people managing through trying times. This is the third in the series so it should be no surprise by now that for the most part, all parties get their happy endings. As the third part of the series, there are no real surprises but we do get to discover some details that weren’t apparent before, gain some additional perspectives, and we get to spend time with the friends we made in earlier books.
As with the earlier two audio-books, this installment is narrated by Sean Crisden who does his usual commendable job of differentiating the large cast of male voices and manages to portray women’s voices without the teeth-grating sweetness that some narrators use. At 10 hours and 46 minutes this is currently one of the longest audio-books in my library but is consistently interesting and will probably be re-read at least annually over the next few years.