Review: SJD Peterson – Remember When

Author: SJD Peterson
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary

Rating: ★★★¼☆ 

Summary:

Life is simple and hopeful in youth. Luke and Nelson are best friends exploring their budding sexuality. They have big plans for the future, and nothing can stand in their way or tear them apart—except a family move that puts a continent between them.

Ten years later Luke and Nelson meet again, but nothing is simple anymore. As strong as the attraction remains, obligations and expectations come between them as Luke is forced to honor family responsibilities over the desires of his heart.

Impossibly fate sees fit to offer them a last opportunity to see what might have been. Will the third time be the charm, or is trust so badly broken it is impossible to repair? Can they recapture the innocent love they once knew and make up for all the wasted years? In a love story that spans half a lifetime, two friends destined for each other will have to fight hard for their happily ever after.

Review:

In part one, the early teen friendship of Luke and Nelson was very sweet—two young kids discovering their sexuality. I was a little saddened when it was evident that Nelson really cared about Luke, but Luke seemed to be moving away from him emotionally and was less interested in fooling around than he had been when they first discovered the joys of sex. And then Luke’s parents packed up the family and moved out of state, making any hope for a future together a moot point. Nelson, needless to say, was heartbroken and though the two made promises to keep in touch, it didn’t happen.

Part two takes place ten years later, when the two accidentally meet up at an airport as both are on their way to Seattle. Looking at it as an omen, they take the opportunity to pursue the attraction that seems to be still present, though Luke admits to being bisexual and recently breaking up with his girlfriend. Alternating POVs let us know that Luke had been as attracted to Nelson as Nelson was to him in the past and only pretended not to be when they were kids because he was conflicted by messages he heard in church. Now though, after getting back together for a hot weekend in Seattle, life complications come up in Luke’s life that lead to yet another breakup—one that appears to be permanent this time. The emotional mess created heartbreak for both as they struggled to decide whether they could still be friends. I have to say I sympathized much more with Nelson when this happened, but thankfully, the author gave us Luke’s POV and we could see the turmoil he went through to reach his (stupid) decision.

In part three, the fickle finger of fate steps in yet again seventeen years later when the cake Nelson delivers to a holiday wedding reception turns out to be for Luke’s brother’s wedding. When the two literally run into one another, Luke grabs the chance to pursue Nelson and vows to never let him go again. It helps that Luke is single now and that Nelson has just broken up with his long-term partner as well. But though Nelson enjoys the chance for sex with Luke, forgiveness is difficult. After all, trust once broken is very difficult to mend.

I had a lot of WTF moments in this last segment. Granted, in the early years, the boys didn’t have social media and cell phones weren’t available. But toward the end of that seventeen-year separation, i.e., in 2011 and later, social media was readily available and frequently used by people searching for old friends to reconnect so I wondered why Luke could be so hot for Nelson, and yet hadn’t attempted to find him. Even without social media, Nelson’s parents were still in the same house they were in when they were kids, so he could have made contact. That segment of the story could have been improved, or the author could at least have made mention of why he didn’t seek Nelson out once he was free to pursue him. In fact, there were a few other holes that never seemed to be addressed—mostly minor—but nevertheless detracting from my enjoyment of the story.

It’s easy to see I liked Nelson’s character, but not so much Luke’s. Overall, I “liked” this story, but not to a high degree, and I have to admit I could have done with less sex scenes and more discussion—especially in part three. The sex was hot, and plentiful, but I may be getting jaded because I want more substance to my stories, and when the sex scenes fit with that substance, that’s fine, but in this case, I think this last segment needed more time for the couple to reconnect emotionally and less time between the sheets, so to speak. It felt rushed and that’s too bad because the first two parts of the story took the necessary time for the characters to develop and for the emotions to be established.

So, though I enjoyed it, I think it did not live up to the potential that was building in the first half and I would have liked to be able to give it a higher rating. I can recommend this to those who like friends to lovers or reunited couples, but be prepared for some hate-those-decisions moments.

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