Thursday, August 04, 2016

Review: Open Road by M.J. O’Shea

open-roadTitle ~ Open Road

Author ~ M.J. O’Shea

Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press

Published ~ 25th July 2016

Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance





Angus has been with the same guy for ten years. When his boyfriend breaks up with him the night of his thirtieth birthday party and announces his engagement to a twenty-two-year-old less than ten hours later, Angus is… a mess. To put it lightly. He spends days in bed, drinks himself into a stupor every night, and ends up losing his job and his apartment. His best and oldest friend, Reece, decides it’s time for an intervention. And a change of scenery.

Reece and Angus take off on a buddy trip across the US. They don’t have much of a plan; they just start driving. It takes Angus a couple of days to do much more than grunt when Reece talks to him, but slowly he opens up. They drive, talk, heal, shout, drink a bit too much sometimes, dance, meet new friends… and somewhere between Portland, Oregon, and Portland, Maine, they fall in love.

Which was the last thing in the world Angus expected.

 Iro’s Review

Open Road, although not exactly what I expected, turned out to be a sweet story and  an enjoyable summer read.

Angus and Reece have been best friends since they were kids, always taking care of each other, sharing their families, their happy moments, never growing apart. Their close bond has been a point of contention between Angus and his boyfriend, Brad, but they manage to maintain their  friendship regardless. When Brad dumps him on his birthday after 10 years of being together, Angus is devastated and slips into a downward spiral, losing himself in alcohol and numbness. Reece steps in and whisks him away on a road trip to help him get away from his memories and put a stop to his self-destructive coping mechanism. This trip however turns into a much more life changing experience than either of them anticipated.

Reece is a really likable character and the parts of the book that were told from his point of view were my favorite. He has this shy, goodhearted, giant of a man thing going on that explains, to a certain degree, why he has never attempted to make Angus aware of his feelings for him or even the fact that he is attracted to men. He is the kind of supportive, selfless friend that takes too much upon himself and I couldn't really find fault in him.

There were moments Angus really frustrated me. Allowing his boyfriend to walk all over him, destroy his self esteem and dictate everything from his wardrobe to his diet, and then being heartbroken over losing such a “catch” was a bit too much. But the fact that, in the beginning of the story, Angus is upset because he's turning thirty, believing his best years have gone by, probably indicates that on some level he is aware that his relationship was one he shouldn't have invested in.

I had a few issues with the book, mainly the way the alcohol thing was handled, going from being the one thing that alarmed Reece, to them enjoying drinks on every stop during their trip. Then there was the word “babe” used by both friends every  other sentence. It was really distracting, but I guess it would make for a great drinking game. Last but not least - and it is one of my personal peeves - the detailed descriptions of their activities at some of their stops read as bullet lists in some cases, and it affected the pacing of the story.

That being said, this is ultimately a heartwarming, romantic story that has a solid HEA . The impromptu road trip and the slow transition from friends to lovers are the core of it and I found myself eager to see those two together, especially after watching them interact in such close quarters. I also loved the fact that Angus was oblivious to Reece being attracted to him as it led to a few really funny instances.

Two best friends, undisclosed feelings, a bit of soul searching and sweet slow-burn romance and you have more than enough reasons to pick up Open Road.

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Meet M.J. O’Shea

M.J. O’Shea has never met a music festival, paintbrush, or flower crown she can stay away from. She loves rainstorms and a perfect cup of tea, beach days, music, bright colors, and more than anything a cozy evening with a really great book.

She is from the Pacific Northwest. While she still lives there and loves it, M.j. has the heart of a wanderer. So she puts all her dreams of far off places and extraordinary people in her books. Except for every once in a while when she does what all travelers have to do on occasion… come home.

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