"She shook her head. "He seems like he's the opposite of simple."
I snorted. He's completely complicated. And lost. And frustrating. But we do something for each other." I intertwined my fingers. "We fit. We need each other."
The first book in this series, Strong Signal, was already close to perfection for me. But this? THIS WAS GODDAMNED EVERYTHING. I really don't think you can write a better story about imperfect characters with realistic problems and reasonable motivations and actions.
This book reminded again why the "fuck buddies-to-lovers" trope is such a favorite of mine. I just LOVE the concept of "lust first, feelings later". When what was supposed to be just a casual hookup with no strings attached becomes a regular arrangement, then feelings (oh, those damn feelings) are beginning to sneak their way in, slowly but unavoidably. With jealousy, possessiveness and all. Ugh, so good.
Usually, once the MCs got together in my books, I lose interest. Very quickly, very thoroughly. Sure, it's nice to see how they manage their everyday life (family, friends, work) now that they're in a new relationship, but I already know that life is hard and complicated and I don't want to read about it. It unnerves me.
But that wasn't the case here. Not at all. I loved the first part of the story (the "getting together" part) just as much as the second part (the "handling RL together" part). The sex scenes in the first half were nothing but smoking HAWT (not really a big shocker if you're familiar with these authors' other works), and the (multiple) family dramas in the second half were realistic and believable. And thankfully not too angsty.
I can't really say anything more or add anything else that hasn't been said already in other reviews. This was a solid 5 star-book for me, it goes onto my "favorites" shelf and I can't recommend it highly enough.
"Named a Best Romance of the Year by The Washington Post"? Well, consider me NOT surprised. Absolutely rightful and deserved.
Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell, I salute you.
I really feel bad giving it 2 stars. BUT:
- I could not connect with the MCs. The narration was dry, the interaction between the MCs was too easy: A student with a hero worship + a soldier with a PTSD in need of love and care = Uber Quick Instalove
I am not usually the one to condemn love at first sight, but this one wasn't convincing even to me.
- Angie was annoying as hell; she set my teeth on edge every. single. time.
- The evil stepfather was extremely sketchy (literally)
- ...And so was the local playboy - Trevor? Terry?
- Ryan... plenty of him in the past, but he was brushed off many a time at the time of the narrative. Why was he even there? Nothing but a prop, like most (all) of the secondary characters here. I hoped and waited for him to show up in book two, but - nothing.
- Rainbow flags were everywhere (in 'spirit' at least). Everyone was sooooo tolerant and accepting and not in the least surprised about everybody else being gay. Except for the evil stepfather, of course, he was one ugly bastard with a foul mouth.
So, a number of things didn't work for me here. Once again - book's too short? I don't know :( I suspect it might be me, since everybody else loves it.
"So this is what it feels like to be a father. To be responsible for another human life. To love someone so much, you almost can't stand it; and when you think about it, there's nothing you want in return.
It feels amazing."
This book was basically a big epilogue for the first 3 books in the series. It is set 15 (!) years after the last volume, with the former late teens Skylar and Rafael now being two adults in their early 30s. They're happily married, Skylar got his voice back and is finally able to talk (like Rafael promised him he would), and now they're trying to adopt a foster kid. All's well that ends well. Yay!
Fun fact #724 about me: I don't really like kids in my books. More often than not, they unbalance the relationship of the MCs and everything starts revolving around them, while the romance takes a backseat.
Thankfully, that was not the case here. I liked bratty little Michaela well enough that she didn't ruin Skylar and Rafael's relationship for me. Phew! Close call.
However, I did have an issue with this book. A HUGE one.
Like I said, the story takes place 15 years after the third book. And a lot has happened during that time. Things that are only mentioned in passing or as a footnote.
LIKE SKYLAR AND RAFAEL GETTING MARRIED.
LIKE SKYLAR, WHO HAS BEEN MUTE FOR THE ENTIRE SERIES, GETTING HIS VOICE BACK THANKS TO RAFAEL.
LIKE SKYLAR'S GRANDMOTHER PASSING AWAY.
Not gonna lie, this was more than a little disappointing and frustrating.
Because there was so much left to love here. It was really nice and touching to see Skylar and Rafael and all their friends as adults. And to see that their love has stayed so strong over the years was nothing but sweet and satisfying. And I liked both main storylines with Michaela/Mickey and Skylar's father.
But I can't help but feel like I missed some of the most important bits of Sky and Rafael's life, and that leaves a bittersweet aftertaste in my mouth.
Thankfully, I also can't help but give this book another 4.5-star rating. Because the writing was STILL so goddamn excellent, and all characters were STILL so completely and utterly lovable. Damn you, Rose Christo, for being so goddamn talented and for giving me all the feelz. How could I ever be mad at you?
PS: That twist at 91%? Shocking and awesome AF! I never saw it coming.