Author: T.A. Webb
Reviewed by: Barb
Genre: M/M Contemporary
ISBN 13: 9781623800321
Mark Jennings is at a crossroads. His finance job in the Atlanta nonprofit scene stresses him out, his mother is dying, and his relationship with Brian Jacobs has crashed and burned. He needs a distraction, some way to relax, and a massage seems like just the thing. He never expected his massage therapist, Antonio Roberto, to become his best friend.
Despite their differences—Antonio is a divorced single father—the two men forge a firm friendship that weathers Mark’s reconciliation with Brian and Antonio’s questionable taste in women. Over the years, Antonio remains constant in his support, though others in Mark’s life come and go through a revolving door.
When a young boy runs away from the group home where he works, Mark finds another door opening. Through it all he holds on to the things his loved ones taught him—about family, about friends and lovers, about life and death. Most importantly, he realizes that sometimes the greatest gift of all is a second chance.
This author has done what few before have achieved. He made me cry. Not once, but twice! My family can’t believe it. I’m still stunned by the emotional depth of this story as I sit here at my keyboard. Maybe I should wait to write the review, but while it’s fresh in my mind, I want to capture how I felt reading this book and look back on those moments that made it so wonderful.
Mark met his friend Antonio around the time Mark’s mother was dying of liver disease. Antonio was his masseuse. He was straight, kind, compassionate, and ultimately became Mark’s best friend. When Mark’s former partner, Brian, showed up at his mother’s funeral, Mark was fully prepared to kick him out. But, when he realized that Brian had genuinely loved his mother and was truly a part of the family, he welcomed him instead. Brian had cheated on Mark, broken his trust and his heart, and the two had separated. Seeing Brian again and recognizing that Brian was an integral part of his life and his family for a long time helped Mark begin to heal from the break-up, and the two started seeing each other again.
I like the way the author advanced time throughout this story which covered over ten years. We get brief periods of “real time” events, interspersed with flashbacks. In this way, we learn that Mark and Brian are back together, Mark having forgiven Brian, and the two are falling more in love with each other with each passing month. Unfortunately, Brian develops seizure disorder and we eventually find out it is due to a brain tumor. When the events surrounding this trauma culminate in a tragedy, the author grabbed my heart and wrung the tears from my eyes. It was a very powerful, moving chapter.
As time goes by again, life goes on and others notice that Antonio seems to have more than a friendly interest in Mark, but Mark remains clueless about his best friend until Antonio takes matters into his own hands on Mark’s birthday. He declares the depth of his feelings for Mark and asks for a chance. Once begun, their relationship develops with fits and starts, ups and downs, typical real life scenarios. There are other issues at work in the background of the lives of the MC’s and their extended families. Issues related to Robbie, a young man who eventually becomes part of Mark’s family, as well as those involving Antonio, his career, and his son Jason.
I always admired this author in his role as a book reviewer, and I should have known that he’d find a way to pack as much drama and emotion as possible into this story. My second set of tears came with the happy ending. I have never cried at a happy ending before, but T.A. Webb got to me and I totally admire him for the beautiful HEA in this story. I highly recommend this to all.