Storm Moon Press
3.75 Pants Off
In high school, Nick Torres and Angelo del Valle were inseparable, outsiders who found strength in friendship. The bond between the gay, mixed-race teens turned isolation into brotherhood. Overachieving loner Angelo became "big bro," looking out for cocky, mischievous "little bro" Nick. But everything changed when Nick fell in love and moved away. Angelo tried to be happy for his dear friend, seeking solace in his college studies and a lonely string of one night stands.
Then, one late night two years later, Angelo's phone rings. Nick is back in town, and he needs his big bro's help. Nick's dream life has become a nightmare, and he's come to the one person he could always trust for shelter. But when Nick looks to Angelo for more than brotherly affection, Angelo is left to wonder if Nick's feelings are genuine or an effect of his trauma. And if those feelings are genuine, Angelo must then decide if his own feelings for Nick have grown into something deeper as well.
Angelo gets a phone call from the best friend he lost 2 years previous, all in the name of Love. Him and Nick go way back, they were each other rock during the tough times and laughed together during the good; they were brothers. Now the sudden call Angelo gets to come pick Nick up at a Greyhound station, Angelo knows something is wrong. It's confirmed when he sees Nick for the first time after so long, he's not the same vibrant man that left him 2 years ago. There's only one explanation for the pain all over Nicks face, and the Skittishness in his body, the signs of abuse are as clear as day.
Angelo always knew that Nick's boyfriend Barrett was bad news, but it's too late for "I told you so''. Angelo wants to know everything that has happened to Nick, the bruises tell a rough tale but Angelo wants answers but he doesn’t voice them. He's just glad to have Nick back and he plans to keep him this time. The men fall back into their easy friendship, and its as if they never parted but suddenly that friendship is turning into more, and the men wonder was this attraction/love always there or did it tae Nick leaving for them to realize it.
For the first 10% of this book I was in tears, so caught up I was in Nick's pain and the abuse he suffered for so long it really brought up personal memories. I believe the authors captured that timidity in Nick, his fear, and still providing him with lots of personality. I am just no too happy about the physical/intimate relationship the men start (it felt too rushed). Better pacing would have made me like their coming together more, though it’s obvious that they always belonged together.
I also liked that Angelo never pressed with "why didn't you just leave and come to me or your family". It's almost never that easy, and with abuse, the emotional part of it can be devastating. Nick is a product of that, and Angelo spends his time trying to build him up. I am just so in love with the diversity in this book, talk about a cultural experience. Both MCs are of mixed race and man...that’s just a beautiful thing.
Overall, I liked it but the middle dragged on. The first 20% of the book was excellent and the rest was alright, I understand the need to set a lighter tone but I feel many issues were avoided. I feel like Nick didn't talk enough and so assumptions were made, all pretty much avoidable. Regardless, I liked the guys and really enjoyed reading this book.
Should You Read It? I really think you should; there is a lot to like in this one. The multiculturalism is a plus, and there is some mention of yaoi (my bias). I am looking forward to more from the authors, and that cover is another win from SMP.