Author: Eli Easton
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Mm Contemporary
Summary: Andy Tyler has been the class daredevil since middle school. Over the years, he’s convinced his best friend, Jake Masterson, to perform some dangerous-looking stunts with him. But the dare they attempt on the night of their college graduation goes sideways. The firecrackers explode too soon and both of them end up with badly burned palms.
But hey, nothing gets the “terrible two-o” down for long, and they recuperate in style at Andy’s family cottage in Cape Cod . As the weeks go by, both Andy and Jake grow frustrated over the inability to use their hands for all sorts of daily activities—including getting off. So Andy begins a new series of dares that don’t just cross the friendship line, they obliterate it.
But what might be mere sexual relief to Andy is serious business to Jake, who only recently got over years of secret pining for his straight best friend. Inevitably, the burns heal, summer ends, and hearts are broken. To fix things, Andy will have to face the greatest dare of all.
Review: Friends to lovers is one of my favorite tropes and this one was done very well. Told in alternating point of view, Andy and Jake have been friends since junior high. Jake is the calmer, level-headed one. Andy is the impetuous, daredevil one. They balance each other well as friends – Jake calms Andy a bit and Andy livens Jake a bit. The problem is, sometimes it goes too far when Andy dares Jake to do things. The story is told back and forth in flashbacks from their past dares to the present ones, just after college graduation.
The dares that bring adult Andy and Jake the most trouble begin with a super stupid one. Holding lit firecrackers to a count of ten and then throwing them. You know how this is going to end – they both get grievously hurt on their hands. For Jake, it’s the worst thing because he is supposed to start a new job in California and unlike Andy’s family, Jake and his mom aren’t moneyed. Andy, feeling guilty, sets up a nurse to take care of them at his family’s cottage and is a little happy to be spending the summer with Jake. Neither of them has real use of their hands – wrapped like a mummy and painful. They have to struggle through routine things, like going to the bathroom.
From here, the dares are still physical but related to a more intimate nature. What starts off as just sex becomes more complicated as feelings get involved. As Andy begins to do some self-realization and Jake starts to think maybe this could be real, I loved reading how being friends set them up to be partners. Until, of course, something happens to ruin that and Andy’s response is absolutely the last thing Jake should have heard. I was so saddened for both of them but Jake broke my heart. “I was so hurt and angry, it felt like a nest of hornets had taken up residence in my chest and were stinging me internally.”
Andy’s parents aren’t bad sorts but dad has had Andy’s life mapped out since he was in junior high. Andy went along with that even though things, like getting into Harvard, don’t have the same sparkle now that he’s older. Dad just doesn’t see that things set in place when you are younger may not necessarily be what you want as you grow. It takes some serious reflection and a scary moment for Andy to really be able to understand that.
There isn’t a lot of drama or angst to this story. It’s a soft, sweet look at friends redefining who they are to themselves and to each other. I recommend it.