Author: Mary Calmes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Hagen Wylie has it all figured out. He’s going to live in his hometown, be everybody’s friend, explore new relationships, and rebuild his life after the horrors of war. No muss, no fuss is the plan. He’s well on his way—until he finds out his first love has come home too. Hagen says it’s no big deal, but a chance encounter with Mitch Thayer’s two cute sons puts him directly in the path of the only guy he’s never gotten out of his head.
Mitch returned for three reasons: to raise his sons where he grew up, to move his furniture business and encourage it to thrive, and to win Hagen back. Years away made it perfectly clear the young man he loved in high school is the only one for him. The problem? He left town and they have not talked since.
If Hagen’s going to trust him again, Mitch needs to show him how he’s grown up and isn’t going to let go. They could have a new chance at love… but Hagen is insistent he’s not reviving a relationship with Mitch. Then again, you never know.
Love, love, love Mary Calmes! This story follows the formula she frequently uses with one of the MCs being a sweet guy who everyone loves. In this case, it’s Hagen Wylie, a young man who went off to war when his high school sweetheart traded their plans for a future together for a football career and all the sex he could get with both men and women. Hagen was injured, captured, released, and injured again in the line of duty and returned home to the tiny town of Benson with his PTSD, his scarred leg, and his desire to be a contractor.
He not only got what he wanted, he has tons of friends and the respect of most of the townspeople. When he happens to hear screaming one day, his reaction is instant as he discovers a little boy at the bottom of a pool, his hysterical brother screaming his head off. Imagine his surprise when he learns that the boy he rescued and resuscitated is the son of the man who jilted him years ago—Mitch Thayer—and Mitch has returned to town to raise his boys, relocate his business, and convince the love of his life to give him a second chance.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story as Mitch attempts over and over to convince Hage that he won’t ever leave him again. Trust is hard to grant and once broken it’s even more difficult to give, and Hagen struggles throughout the story with this dilemma presented by seeing Mitch again. He’s been involved with an actor who’s been living in town while renovating a B&B and the actor, Ash, wants Hage for himself. But Hagen reserves his heart and only offers his body to Ash, and in fact, refuses to consider anything more than long-term friendship with the man. He won’t admit it out loud, but Mitch is the love of his life, and despite the heartbreak, he knows he’ll only ever love that one man.
The struggle to resist Ash’s advances takes up a large part of this story and Mitch isn’t on page as much as I would have liked. And that actually may be why I had trouble warming up to him. When he is on page, Mr. Macho Former NFL Player and strong personality barges in and won’t take no for an answer. Honestly, I don’t blame Hage for hesitating to forgive him. Heartbreak like Mitch dished out is hard to overcome, and I don’t know if I would have been able to do what Hage did in such a short time. That hang-up made this only a four star story for me. I would have liked more focus on the Mitch-begging-for-forgiveness theme and less on the Ash-trying-to-bully-Hage-into-his-bed theme.
All in all, though, if you like Mary Calmes’s books, you’re bound to find this an enjoyable way to spend a few hours lost in the kind of MM romance that only she can give us.