Author: Ava Hayden
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Mm Contemporary
Summary: Huxley carries invisible scars from a near-fatal car accident. He sleepwalks through a job at his father’s company, marking time until he can quit and pursue his own dreams.
Everything changes the moment he makes eye contact with a stranger while riding to work. It’s as if he’s been shaken out of his stupor, and Huxley vows to find the man.
Thanks to a thieving ex-lover, Paul’s florist shop is on the brink of closing down. He needs to milk Valentine’s Day for all it’s worth—and the irony that a day dedicated to love might help undo the damage of a failed relationship is not lost on him.
When Huxley finds Paul at his shop, both men feel an instant attraction. Before long, they’re falling hard, but Huxley holds back. If Paul knew all the baggage he’s carrying, he might run.
Paul’s gut tells him Huxley is hiding something. Huxley looks like a keeper, but Paul can’t go through another disastrous romance.
When Valentine’s Day arrives, will they have anything to celebrate?
Review: Huxley is a rich kid who’s life is controlled by his father. He’s working at one of his father’s companies, riding out the time until his father will release his trust fund and he can go do something else. He doesn’t do anything at the job, doesn’t care and puts up with crap from Bob, a manager. Doesn’t matter to him, he exists in a state of gray and just wants do something else. He sees a therapist because since a bad car accident with his mother he is unable to drive or even be a passenger in a car. Huxley isn’t living, he’s existing.
Through the window of his back seat ride, he sees Paul and is immediately entranced. The man looks alive, he looks vibrant, he looks…happy? All the things Huxley doesn’t feel. Of course, Paul has some giant problems of his own due to trusting the wrong person and he’s desperately trying to keep the florist shop, Floribunda, from closing. He took over from his parents, who are enjoying a well-earned retirement, and he doesn’t want to admit how stupid he was.
There are some great secondary characters in Carson, Paul’s best friend; the employees at Oilton Foods (once Huxley acknowledges anything there), especially Sherrilyn, and great in a bad way, Bob. I liked that Bob is a nasty piece of work but he isn’t a caricature. He is the odious manager who makes your life miserable. He tries very hard, and sometimes very successfully, to do that to Huxley. Carson is such a good friend and he’s so interesting. “If you hurt him, I will cut you.” He’s also pretty fierce.
One of the most heart wrenching characters is Roger, Bob’s son and Huxley’s high school tormentor. A bully and a target both, you want to hate him until you see the why. I would love to see a story where he gets to be happy.
“Push out the air. Let in the air.” He’s trying. Huxley does make an effort to meet Paul and become friends, which took effort on his part. As he and Paul get to know each other, Huxley begins to take an interest in the job he’s been ignoring and starting to make a difference at Oilton Foods. He listens to his people and begins to pull them forward, much to Bob’s rage.
There is a misunderstanding that could have been solved if Huxley just said something, but it was something that I could see why he didn’t want to. However, I thought Paul was totally justified in misunderstanding it. But again, Paul, ask him!
Going to give a quick shout-out that during one conversation Huxley asks Paul, “What should I be reading?” and Paul’s response: “The Burke series by Andrew Vachss. No question. It’s dark but redemptive.” That series is one of my favorites, and like Paul, I’ve reread it I don’t know how many times. Usually no one knows what I’m talking about so it was awesome to see it here.
I liked this very much, including how it ended. I found the characters realistic and likeable, the writing smooth and I believed the connection between Paul and Huxley. I also very much enjoyed seeing Huxley grow up.