Noah Reed has his life planned out. There was that one glitch, years ago, but he's back on track now and determined to reach his goal of becoming a veterinarian and building his own practice. Shane Black's hard life has taught him there's no point in looking forward and even less in looking back. He takes life as it comes, and his only real need is medical care for his young pup, Dodger. When Shane stumbles into the clinic where Noah volunteers, Noah’s instincts tell him to run away from the dangerous, unpredictable ruffian. But the puppy needs help, and maybe Shane does, too. The young men soon discover that Dodger was poisoned, and so were several street people Shane knows. As they search for the source of the poison, Noah learns about the dark underside of the city where he’s spent his whole life, and Shane learns that there is light in the world, even when he’s stuck in the shadows. But when their relationship begins to grow from a partnership to a romance, new challenges appear. Their worlds are so different—can they ever make sense together? Is there any room in Noah’s carefully planned life for someone as unpredictable as Shane?
Dear Kate Sherwood, I picked up this book just because I missed your writing. I really liked it. As blurb states Shane and Noah meet when Shane overcomes his natural mistrust and goes into the veterinarian clinic to ask for help for his puppy Dodger. Shane pretty much lives on the street, Noah is a young man who volunteers in the clinic. This book could probably be classified as New Adult? The guys are twenty/twenty one. I am estimating because Noah is a junior in college and at some point Noah is asking/guessing that Shane is around twenty too, so if you don’t like New Adult this book would probably not be your thing. On one thing M/M had been doing New Adult for a long time – I am not completely qualified to say that it had been doing it longer than het romance, but I had been reading it for over nine years and vast majority of the protagonists had been in their twenties pretty much when I started reading it.
What I am trying to get it is that I was actually cheering the fact that at least some books do feature guys in their thirties and forties and while I do not mind twenty year olds as stars in the romances, I am not actively seeking them out anymore. Basically I was not bound to like this book based on the age of the protagonists alone.
The owner of the clinic who helped Dodger and her wife offer Shane and Noah a job. Because they want to help Shane, but also because they want to do community outreach – they want to open the clinic which would be helping pets whose owners could not afford to pay and also to bring some social workers in the clinic and maybe to help some owners of the pets to get into the housing, to take advantage of the programs for the homeless, because many people are not taking advantage of those programs for various reasons. They want Shane and Noah to basically go out to the communities and tell people about the clinic and maybe convince them to try it, for starters to tell them that their pets could get vaccinations and check- ups this kind of thing.
Many people whom Shane knows are naturally mistrustful of the system, because they had been burned before and nobody is more mistrustful than Shane – he had to overcome all kinds of hesitations before he would agree to do some kind of overnight help with the animals in the clinic and then when he agreed to take the outreach job. Shane does not trust the veterinarian much initially, he does not trust the police and it is all very understandable, Shane had it rough and he is convinced that everything is going to go bad for him eventually. But I was so pleased to see how he worked through at least some of his hesitations and fears – no, he does not become super trusting by the end of the story. After all it takes place during one week, but one can see that there is a chance that he can travel down the road towards better future for him. I really liked this guy, so much.
Part of the reason why Shane was able to at least start on that road was because of Noah – no, Noah does not *save* him from anything, but several times his optimism and support just help Shane to make better decision for himself and his puppy. Noah also grows and learns a lot during this book – he is a dedicated guy who wanted to become a veterinarian since he was very young and he started on this road as early as he could, but he realized that his supportive mother pretty much sheltered him from a lot of darkness in this world (and I am not saying this as a way of criticism, I am just trying to explain how Noah grows as a character) and he had to learn and figure out how to try to help Shane even if only with his support and if he was able to lend some more help to Shane’s friends, all for the better.
I really liked the beginning of their romance. I liked that neither man’s issues steam from the fact that they prefer men to fall in love with. Noah’s mother always supported him, and his issue may have been from his past relationship but it does not have anything to do with him being gay. Shane is, well, he is living on the streets and as I said, he has a lot on his place to deal with and that does not include him “having sex with guys in the past and liking it” (close paraphrase). I think he just accepted it as a matter of fact and moved on. I also wonder if Shane is on the asexual spectrum – he mentioned briefly that sex is good but he just did not think about sex too often, but it was also mentioned that the more they were spending time making out with Noah, the more he became interested in doing other stuff with him. Demisexual maybe? Not sure, but I thought it was nicely done.
I liked that the story offered important things for the guys to do – they ended up figuring out who poisoned Shane’s friends and Dodger and became closer to each other in the process. For me (as somebody who never lived on the streets mind you) the story felt very believable, rang true, however take that with a grain of salt.
There is also no sex in the story – no explicit sex mind you, there are kisses and it is mentioned that they went further closer to the end if I read it correctly. I liked this book, but once again – number one in the series, it stands as stand-alone very well and the excerpt from the second book made me really hate one of the men in there, but hopefully I am wrong. It features different couple (Shane’s friend from this book), but Shane and Noah also mentioned briefly.