Church is released from a correctional facility after serving time for an assault he committed as a teenager. In order to be able to re-join society Church needs to live with a responsible friend without a criminal history. He has no one to turn to and ends up calling his old friend Miller for help. Church and Miller have a history together. Miller attempted to help Church during his trouble teens but things became strained between them around the time Church got himself arrested. The two guys are re-united and attempt to rekindle their estranged friendship. However, Church has always needed more than friendship from Miller and attempts to accept that Miller does not share the same feelings. Miller secretly is at odds with his strict religious upbringing and his growing feelings where Church is concerned. Tensions rise as the chemistry and emotions slowly burn between the two. Church and Miller fight to find a balance in their relationship when Church’s criminal past threatens their fragile bubble of happiness.
I thought Bell’s characters were interesting and complex. Church and Miller are complete opposites yet balance each other out so well. Church is hot-headed where Miller tends to think things out rationally and logically. Church’s back story is dark where Miller grew up in a fairly stable household. Church is open about his sexuality where Miller is so solidly in the closet, thanks to his conservative upbringing, that he can’t even admit his true feelings to himself most of the book. Church is driven by his determination to not turn out like his father. Miller’s strict and conservative father influenced his way of thinking so much Miller feels obligated to honor his father by denying the truth of who he is. Both of the men are stubborn, and loyal to a fault to people they consider family. The combination of these differences and similiarities is what makes their friendship so strong.
Now let’s talk chemistry. I know you saw me call this a friendship and it probably threw you. You might be thinking “Andie, I thought this was a romance.” You’re right this is a contemporary romance. However, the chemistry between Church and Miller felt more physical than emotional through most of the book. They share a very strong friendship with underlying currents of some pretty hot sexual tension. I won’t dispute that. Church is pretty damn clear from the very beginning that he wants more than what Miller is willing to give him relationship-wise. The emotional connection feels very one-sided though throughout the book up until the ending. When it finally happens it feels anti-climatic, almost like it was thrown in as an afterthought. Which was a bit of a letdown considering that this is a romance and not erotica. Don’t get me wrong here. I’m down for the sexy times. I have no problem with explicit sexual scenes in my romances, but I also expect the romances to have an equal amount of swoonworthy emotion to them. That said the sexual tension in this book is off the charts. It’s so damn angsty too, so if that is your thing you’ll like it.
As I stated above, I had some issues with the development of the romantic relationship with Church and Miller, so we won’t get into that part of the plot. Let’s talk about the rest of the storyline. Don’t worry I’ll stay as spoiler-free as possible. Bell did a wonderful job of setting up the back story to both the plot and characters. There isn’t a whole lot of world building in this, so the atmosphere and overall tone of the story has to come from the characters and their history. So, although the plot of the story was extremely predictable, the way Bell’s characters reacted to the situations they are placed in felt genuine and true to their life story.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read. I think it had the potential to be pretty fantastic if the romance was a bit more fleshed out. I loved the complexity of Bell’s characters and the sexual tension was pretty intense. If you are looking for a romance that is more on the sexy side then the romantic side then you will like this one.