After a decade of serving in the Army, everyone still expects me to be Dominic "Nicky" Costigan, the skirt-chasing player. They don't know I've been spending my days trying to figure out my post-military life. Including how to pick up guys. When I meet Luke on a hookup app, he makes it clear it's for one-night only. That's fine with me, because I'm down to see what this silver fox can do. But after I arrive at his doorstep, it doesn't take long to realize we have serious chemistry, and we end up meeting again. He's got more walls around his heart than a military base, but I think he's as addicted to me as I am to him. He can't resist me for long. I mean, who can? Except Luke's rules exist for a reason, and when I test his limits, things get complicated. Maybe too complicated.
Dear Santino Hassell and Meegan Erickson,
I am aware that many readers loved the first book in this series, but I was underwhelmed by it and to be quite honest I was not sure whether to buy the second book. However because I enjoyed Santino Hassell’s solo works so much I decided to give this book a try and I am glad I did.
In this story we are reintroduced to Dominick in much greater detail. He was Garreth’s comrade in arms, occasional hook up and kind of an ass in the first book. I also believe that in the first book Dominic came to realize that he was bisexual and that he had feelings for Garreth, but as we know Garreth was not available anymore. That’s my recollection anyway – I had no desire to reread the first book to double check, sorry. As far as I remember Dominic also wanted to keep in touch with Garreth after army. Garreth did not sound too enthusiastic but did not completely shut down the possibility.
The book begins with Dominic texting Garreth asking how to use Grindr dating application and Garreth gives him some pointers about what pictures he should use.
We also learn almost right away from Dominic’s narration that he felt that him returning from the army was like going back in time – working in his parents’ bagel shop and living in his parents’ basement. He feels that at twenty seven he matured as a person and needs to move out, but he is not hundred percent sure about what he wants to do as a permanent career and what steps he needs to take to pursue it. There is also a situation in his family where his father loses his tempter and yells at Dominic and his sixteen year old sister and Dominic is a little reluctant to leave her without support. As I mentioned before Dominic knows now that he is bisexual but with the situation at home he is at no hurry to come out to his parents.
As an aside, I was so impressed with the portrayal of Dominic’s parents. They are portrayed as flawed people, but not as terrible people and terrible parents. I mean, of course terrible parents exist too; I was just happy that the writers avoided an easy route and did not make them into caricatures. In this situation even decent people can make mistakes when external circumstances are piling on them and they feel that family’s livelihood can be taken away from them.
Dominic feels that he needs a relieve from everyday routine he fell into and when he puts his picture on the dating application he meets Luc.
Luc is 39 years old who also served in the army, even became an officer but was dishonorably discharged because of “Do not ask do not tell”. I do not want to tell you more specifics about what happened, but as you could probably guess the circumstances of the discharge left Luc with the huge chip on his shoulder. However at least Luc did not fall apart – he had two small kids to raise whom he parented with his lovely ex – wife Nadia (who rocked as a character too I thought), he pulled himself up and kept going. He started his own landscaping business, made it a success and overall life is good for him when the story starts.
They are still friends with Nadia, still share joint custody of the kids who are sixteen now and who seemed to be overall well-adjusted teenagers. However Luc still does not do relationships – he keeps his personal and sex life completely separate. The kids now live with him over the week (because Nadia moved to New Jersey and kids did not want to live the prestigious high school they were accepted to) and stay with their mom on weekends. So Luc also schedules his Grindr hook-ups on weekends when kids are not there. Oh and he made a rule not to do repeats. Nadia knows all about it and still hopes Luc can find somebody to have relationship with.
Of course since this is a romance you can guess that when Luke and Dominic meet, Dominic gets under his skin pretty fast and as much as Luc resists it, he bends self – imposed rules one after another.
As much as Luc does not “do relationships” when he realizes that Dominic means a lot to him, he is able to listen and encourage his dreams and inspirations and Dominic seemingly able to help him to unwind (even if that happens with one step forward, two steps backwards kind of pace). These two just seemed to fit well together to me. I am going to let you listen to the serious conversation they are having , but their text messages were also conversations worth reading and funny too.
"I polished off the sandwich and nodded. “My situation isn’t ideal. Most days I just want to fucking—” The rest of the sentence was too pathetic to finish. I sneaked a glance at Luke. He was watching me closely. “Most days I just feel like all of this is pointless.” “Explain.” “Just—” Gesturing vaguely, I tried to find the words to explain without saying too much. “I’m just… I’m a waste, man.” Luke moved the plate from the bed. I almost expected him to give me some empty platitude or to brush it off and change the "awkward subject, but he just kept giving me that thorough glare of his. “You feel like a waste because you’re wasting your time. Decide what you want and follow through with a plan.” When I didn’t say anything, he went on. It was the longest he’d ever spoken to me in person. Which was sort of weird to realize. “You’ve been thinking about this. Tell me what’s on your mind.” “It’s stupid.” “It’s stupid of you to act like a shy kid being asked to the prom when I’m asking about career prospects.” A laugh popped out of my mouth. “You’re such a grown-up.” “What do you want to do with yourself, Dominic?” “Fine. Jesus.” I raked a hand through my hair. “I was thinking about being an EMT, but that’s probably not going to happen.” “Why do you want to be an EMT? He asked, totally skipping over my pity-party. “Because I’m good at being a first responder. I have fast reflexes. I don’t freeze up in an emergency. I can handle gore.” I searched his face for a sign of judgment. My father had scoffed and said I was still trying to play hero without taking on the responsibility of having to once again carry a gun. Maybe other people saw it that way. They probably did. It was partially true. “I want to do something that matters.” Luke nodded shortly. “Makes perfect sense to me. Do it.” “Really?” “Yes. And you’d be good at it. Your sense of humor would be a good distraction. You could ask them about whether the Mets have a shot at the pennant while checking their vitals.” I smirked. “That would depress them.” “You know what I mean.” Luke stood up…”
“I hadn’t been blowing smoke up his ass. I did think he’d make a great EMT, and my research showed the field was supposed to grow over twenty percent in the next five years. Yeah, I’d made fucking notes and shit. I wanted him to be happy. When I’d told him I thought he’d make a great EMT, his whole face had lit up. It pissed me off he didn’t have other people to encourage him. Except… I liked being the one who made him smile.”
But of course there are always complications the characters need to overcome on the way to happy ending. At first glance complications may have arose because of the coincidences the writers imposed on the narrative (no kidding, if the guys are living couple of blocks from each other, they are bound to see each other’s families at some point). However I thought that if we take another look one will notice that really the complications arose because the characters acted as human beings would act. I mean the teenagers being rebellious is nothing new and I think will always be happening even if teenagers in question are wonderful kids overall. The loving parents will always be protective to the point of being overprotective of their kids against the world even if they do not need much protection. I am deliberately speaking in generalities because I do not want to spoil the book for you.
I really enjoyed the book and already reread it twice , that to me signifies a memorable read.