I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
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I read the 2nd edition of this book, upon its re-release via Dreamspinner Press.
This is a well-done enemies-to-lovers romance between two men who were as thick as thieves as kids, but had a huge falling out when one of them (Nate) came out as gay to the other one (Kellan), and then suffered a betrayal of such magnitude that their friendship abruptly ended.
Additionally, Kellan's father allegedly stole the formula for an energy drink from Nate's father, which then caused Nate's father to lose his job, and the family to lose everything they had, whereas Kellan's father, and thus Kellan, became rich.
Nate has not forgiven Kellan, even though it's been many years, and he hasn't spoke to his ex-friend ever since.
What made this book stand out for me is that both Nate and Kellan are anti-heroes, meaning they're both unlikable, in that they're selfish and self-absorbed for a good chunk of this book. Kellan's plan to "stick it" to his overbearing and controlling father by coming out as gay, even though he isn't really (or at least, he thinks so), by pretending that Nate is his boyfriend, thereby sticking it to his father even more, is really selfish, and for a long while Kellan doesn't really think things through. He's perfectly willing to use Nate to anger his father, without any concerns really how that might make Nate feel, which only cemented my initial assessment of him as an arrogant and selfish rich prick.
Nate, on the other hand, is so angry with Kellan still that he's almost unable to pull his head out of his own ass, even as Kellan softens toward him and slowly tries to rebuild their friendship. He's curt, abrupt, rude, and condescending, and treats Kellan badly - out of anger, and then out of fear. There was a scene relatively early on that had me shake my head at Nate, even though I understood to some extent where he was coming from. Hate is just another side of the same coin - the opposite of love is not really hate, but indifference, and it was clear that Nate wasn't, despite his internal protests, indifferent to Kellan. His righteous anger is just a cover for the pain Kellan caused him, for how he broke his heart when he left him to the wolves.
The book also features Eli, Nate's employee/subordinate, who gets his own book in Bad Boyfriend (the only book of the series I read before this one), and who provided some comedic relief on occasion that thawed the tension between Nate and Kellan. I suppose one could say that Eli also acted as a catalyst of sorts for both Nate and Kellan to confront their feelings and become used to the idea that their fake relationship might have turned real.
Kellan struggles with his attraction to Nate and spends a lot of time in this book confused, trying to figure out whether he's straight, or not so straight after all, and that his actions in their teenage years, those suppressed memories, were born out of fear. His personal growth throughout the book was my favorite part.
So fake-boyfriend plus enemies-to-lovers = excellent read, with flawed and complex, yet mostly realistic characters who needed to work on themselves to overcome the pain of their pasts to find lasting love. Worth your time.
** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **