Author ~ Felice Stevens
Published ~ 20 July 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Carter Haywood lives for the weekends—specifically the one weekend every month when he escapes real life, with all the pressures of work and caring for his special needs brother, to do whatever he wants, with whomever he wants. Sex is only a release; he's not looking for love, a relationship or even a second night with the same man, until he walks into a bar and finds someone who makes leaving it all behind impossible. After one incredibly passionate encounter, he breaks his rule and goes back. He needs to see this man again. And again.
Damaged goods. That's all Reed Kincaide sees and hears when he looks in the mirror. Anxiety and ADHD define his life and he’s learned to keep people at a distance, never letting them get close enough to know who he really is. When Carter proposes a monthly weekend of sex without strings, it's the ideal arrangement for him. Or so he thinks. Every month, leaving Carter proves to be more and more difficult. It’s not only the intensely hot sex they have in their hotel suite; Reed wonders about the secret life Carter refuses to share.
As months pass and they grow closer Reed finds himself falling for Carter, but he needs more than hurried hugs and farewell kisses. He wants it all. Letting Reed into his carefully constructed family life could upset Carter’s whole world, but it might be the risk he’s finally willing to take, if it means keeping Reed. Once bodies are engaged, the heart is sure to follow, and Carter and Reed discover that holding on to each other is the first step in letting go of the past.
Carter Haywood is a 32 year old successful, self-made man who is completely devoted to caring for his 10 year old half-brother Jacks. Their mother dumped Jacks at his door three years ago and left. Since that day Carter has done everything he could to help Jacks deal with his learning disability, physical ailments and any other issues he may have as a result of their mother’s neglect. His only release is the one weekend a month he goes out for some no strings attached sex with whatever man catches his interest that night. No one will ever come before Jacks and his sex life will never intrude on his home life.
At 27 years old, Reed Kincaide is working his way through school by bartending. He has learned to control his ADHD and anxiety with regular medication and therapy, but resents that he will be bound to it for the rest of his life. The fact that his mother walked out on him and his father rather than deal with his problems still hurts and has left him with feelings that he is unworthy. Reed is used to people leaving and has decided he’s better off just focusing on work and school rather than getting into a relationship where he’ll only wind up being hurt again.
Their first encounter is hot and dirty and purely physical, ending when Carter basically tells Reed not to let the door hit him on the way out. That’s Carter’s modus operandi after all. One weekend per month, a no strings attached hook up to hold him until the next time. Reed doesn’t do casual, but his loneliness and something about Carter had him taking a risk. Everything was great until the rude dismissal. Reed is surprised when Carter shows up again a month later and wants to do it all again, but even more surprised when Carter proposes they continue this arrangement each month. Sex without dating, friendship or any emotional entanglement. Again, Reed surprises himself and Carter by accepting. It’s not his usual, but perhaps it’s just what he needs to get through as well. Since we’re all romance readers here, we know how that’s going to go don’t we?
The months go by with glimpses of Carter and Reed through a series of their weekend encounters, which almost immediately turn into more. Both men continue to be secretive about their personal lives but they quickly become attached. Reed sees himself as quite different from the outwardly together Carter, but neither could imagine the similarities that lay under the surface. Reed may think himself weak, but he shows great strength in standing up for what he needs when he realizes he needs more out of this arrangement than Carter wants to give.
While the premise of this story may not be anything new, I loved seeing Reed and Carter work through their issues. Carter realizing that he needs to reevaluate and move forward as his brother does the same, and Reed finding the strength he thinks he doesn’t have and realizing that he is worthy of someone who will stay with him and love him as he is doesn’t come easy, but the rewards are oh so sweet. This is the kind of story Felice Stevens does so well and it was sweet, sexy and romantic. Carter and Reed’s chemistry was off the charts in their first encounter and only got better as they went along. Although Reed easily had me loving him from the start, by getting both their points of view I really felt for both men. There was one particular moment Carter did something that made me growl in anger and disbelief, but there was never a moment I wasn’t rooting for them to get their acts together and open up.
Aside from Reed and Carter, there are some wonderful secondary characters in Carter’s young brother Jacks, their amazing neighbor Helen, and Reed’s father Walter. The NYC/Brooklyn setting itself, which Felice Stevens always captures so well, also adds to the feel of the story when Reed convinces Carter to take the monthly meetups beyond the hotel room walls. Of course there is also a romantic HEA that ends the story just right. This was a lovely tale of love and acceptance. Emotional without being angsty and romantic without being sappy, I recommend it to both fans and new readers alike.
Meet Felice Stevens
Felice Stevens has always been a romantic at heart. While life is tough, she believes there is a happy ending for everyone. She started reading traditional historical romances as a teenager, then life and law school got in the way. It wasn't until she picked up a copy of Bertrice Small and became swept away to Queen Elizabeth's court that her interest in romance novels was renewed. But somewhere along the way, her reading shifted to stories of men falling in love. Once she picked up her first gay romance, she became so enamored of the character-driven stories and the overwhelming emotion there was no turning back. Felice lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Her day begins with a lot of caffeine and ends with a glass or two of red wine. Although she practices law, she daydreams of a time when she can sit by a beach and write beautiful stories of men falling in love. Although there is bound to be some angst along the way, a Happily Ever After is always guaranteed.
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