Author: Cass Lennox
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: MM Contemporary
Absence is as crucial as presence.
The decision to stop dating has made Vaughn Hargrave’s life infinitely simpler: he has friends, an excellent wardrobe, and a job in the industry he loves. That’s all he really needs, especially since sex isn’t his forte anyway and no one else seems interested in a purely romantic connection. But when a piece is stolen from his art gallery and insurance investigator Jonah Sondern shows up, Vaughn finds himself struggling with that decision.
Jonah wants his men like his coffee: hot, intense, and daily. But Vaughn seems to be the one gay guy in Toronto who doesn’t do hookups, which is all Jonah can offer. No way can Jonah give Vaughn what he really wants, not when Jonah barely understands what love is.
When another painting goes missing, tension ramps up both on and off the clock. Vaughn and Jonah find themselves grappling not just with stolen art, but with their own differences. Because a guy who wants nothing but romance and a guy who wants nothing but sex will never work—right? Not unless they find a way to fill in the spaces between them.
Unique, enjoyable, interesting, fun, amazing, and heartwarming are just a few adjectives that describe this story from Cass Lennox, in what might be their debut novel.
Vaughn Hargrave doesn’t like sex. He’s had it, and it’s okay, but it’s pretty much nothing special. He’s never felt that’s okay, so he avoids situations in which he might be expected to “put out.” He has a few close friends and will go out to bars with them, but they know he’s going to leave when he gets uncomfortable and don’t put pressure on him, at least they don’t anymore. His world is turned topsy-turvy when he meets Jonah Sondern. Jonah is his total opposite, and when they first meet in a work-related art theft investigation, Jonah is annoyed that Vaughn doesn’t react to him as he expects. After all, Jonah is one smokin’ hot guy and everyone should acknowledge that. But not Vaughn, and it bugs Jonah for reasons he can’t define.
Both of these characters are highly enjoyable, and the very slow buildup of their attraction for each other—their non-sexual friendly attraction to each other—makes this story what it is. I learned more about what it truly means to be asexual from this one story than I ever have from all my other reading, including online research. And yet, it wasn’t the least bit preachy or offensive or boring. The men develop a friendship after Jonah’s reunited college friend explains the concept of being friends with someone and forces Jonah to commit to following through with his attraction to Vaughn but to keep it strictly platonic. And when Vaughn agrees to attend a toga party where Jonah is ready to party, Jonah is excited until Vaughn tells him no, yet again.
However, at that party, as Vaughn is simply hanging out, he overhears a heated discussion on sexuality and an unusual term that piques his interest. That term is asexual, and it’s the beginning of a new understanding and a positive self-reinforcement for Vaughn. In the meantime, Jonah starts to realize that maybe a part of why he needs to get off with anonymous guys a few times a week (sometimes a few times a night) just might have something to do with his abandonment issues. His mother left him in front of a shop when he was only five (that just broke my heart!), and he’s recently learned a bit more about that.
Both men evolve and change and come to a better understanding of themselves and each other in this book. And they acknowledge how much they care for each other and are able to establish something special and unique to them. It’s not at all what I’d want or expect, but it is absolutely perfect for them. I loved them and wanted to see the story end on a positive note, and I wasn’t the least bit disappointed. Being on their journey with them was uplifting and eye-opening, and I want to revisit them in a few years because I just know they will still be together, and they will have grown in their love and commitment. I hate to put this one down. I highly recommend it to everyone.