When things come to a head, there’s nowhere to go but down…
On the surface, Derek “Call Me Dare” Nelson’s life is simple, doing up custom campervans while living in a slightly illegal caravan in his riverfront yard. When a handsome, smooth-talking developer offers to buy the land out from under his feet, Dare realizes it’s the same man he had to escort home from a party months ago for causing a drunken scene.
Grant Matravers lives a double life, attempting to adjust to weekends as a single, divorced gay man while staying closeted at work. The strain of keeping up the part-time pretense, missing his kids, and now a problematic attraction to the shave-headed, tattooed Dare, has worn his emotional barriers dangerously thin.
Dare blasts through those barriers in a way Grant isn’t prepared for, challenging everything he thought he knew about himself as a gay man. But as their chemistry heats up and the intimacy between them grows, Grant edges toward a decision that could blow up in his face. Exposing a hornet’s nest of complications that could destroy any chance for happily ever after.
The odd couple in my world of M/M fiction, it seems impossible that Grant and Dare could possibly have anything in common, or find any sort of long term relationship or commitment possible, but Josephine Myles shows us that love doesn’t really care about labels and true love is available to anyone willing to work for it.
Dare (Derek) Nelson owns property along the riverfront on which he houses and remodels campervans. He does everything from upholstery to engine work on them and lives on the proceeds. He also illegally lives in one of the vans, but as long as no one knows that, he’s happy to live and work in his own little world with just his Rottweiler, Solly, to keep him company. He actually owns the house he inherited from his parents, but he doesn’t live there—that’s where his drug-addicted brother lives in squalor, both inside and outside. Dare visits once a week, always optimistic that this may be the time when getting together with his brother for Sunday dinner might awaken a desire in his brother to get clean and sober.
Dare’s riverfront property hasn’t escaped the notice of local land developers and when their best salesman, smooth-talking Grant Matravers shows up with an offer to purchase the land for a half-million pounds, Dare laughs in Grant’s face. Dare recalls Grant from an encounter a year before at his friend Mas’s party (“Stuff”). Grant was Mas’s former “sugar daddy” and was booted from the party when he showed up drunk out of his mind. At that time, Dare escorted him home, and he doesn’t think any better of him with the passage of time.
What Dare isn’t aware of at that initial meeting is that Grant has finally come out to his wife and is in the process of divorce. Though he’s closeted at work, he’s making strides in being the man he should have been all along. Why he’s attracted to the handsome, tattooed and bald Dare is beyond him, but the chemistry is reciprocal, and the two tops wrestle over dominance every time they get together. Eventually, when Grant keeps coming back and just frotting isn’t enough, Grant succumbs and gives his virginity to Dare.
I loved the chemistry the author infused in these two very strong men. The underlying layers of emotion and their inherent good qualities showed below the surface at all times, yet it took them quite a long time to come to terms with the fact that they felt more than just a burning need to have sex. The family and work relationships in Grant’s life that provided a layer of complexity were realistic and very well placed throughout the story. And Dare’s caretaking of his brother, his attendance at a family support group, and his willingness to keep supporting him through his withdrawal, all showed that Dare is much more than the shaved-headed, tattooed muscle man he might appear to be at first sight.
The only minor concern I had was the portrayal of Dare’s brother going “cold turkey” from a lengthy heroin addiction at home. Having worked in the recovery field I know that many complications can arise, up to and including heart failure, so I just can’t let that pass without a comment. Though I can’t imagine the odds that an addict would read the story and then think they could detox alone, it does downplay the severe extent of addiction and the medical complications of cold turkey withdrawal.
In summary, this is a great story and so much fun to meet the two “misfits” who were actually more like Yin and Yang, complementing each other perfectly. I highly recommend this one to all lovers of M/M romance, and though it’s third in a series, it can be read as a standalone.