Author ~ Shell Taylor
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 13th October 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Four years ago, Kollin Haverty’s best friend, Riley Meadows, dropped off the face of the earth. When he shows up out of the blue, armed with a flimsy excuse for disappearing and having nearly completed his transition from female to male, Kollin wants to pick up where they left off. But Riley’s unwillingness to be honest with Kollin prevents him from fully trusting Riley again. Despite Riley’s insecurities and Kollin’s abandonment issues, they quickly discover there’s something more than friendship between them.
When a ghost from Riley’s past unexpectedly appears with haunting memories in tow, Kollin’s anger about being lied to outweighs his desire to be the understanding boyfriend Riley needs. As Riley’s web of strategically withheld secrets begins to unravel, he must find the courage to pursue his own peace before he can move forward with Kollin, and Kollin must decide what’s more important—supporting his best friend or protecting himself.
This is the third book in the Home for Hope series. It is probably wise to read the first two books in order to get the most out of this story. This book focuses on Kollin Haverty. Kollin is the teen taken in by Adam and Eli in book 1 Redeeming Hope, after they found out he was being abused by his parents and eventually kicked out. We are also introduced to the other main protagonist in this story back in book 1,Riley Meadows. Riley is a FTM trans character, who dropped off the face of the earth after becoming Kollin’s best friend. He turns up in this book having had top surgery and getting ready for bottom surgery.
The writing of the trans character and the issues they face, dealing with different surgeries and therapy to get to the emotional state needed to undertake them, is written very well in this book. It is clear the author has done some extensive research. Riley has severe body dsymorphia and coupled with his emotional state, it leaves him feeling very skittish and prone to run. Kollin is very aware that Riley has been badly treated in the past and is ultra cautious in his moving the relationship forward.He navigates his way through a potential minefield, never wanting to scare Riley off or upset him in any way. This is a very endearing trait of Kollin’s. He also has some difficult and awkward conversations with both his dads, separately, about having sex with Riley. These conversations were very sweet and again show just how much Kollin doesn’t want to screw things up. The sex when it happens feels very emotional, mature and meaningful because of this.
Riley has some issues he needs to deal with during the story, including trying to repair his fractured relationship with his parents. I found this to be quite a real portrayal of what the family had gone through, especially from Riley’s dad’s POV. I could really sense the unfolding of that family dynamic and was glad to see it resolve over time and not just a quick fix.
The one thing I didn’t really like was Riley’s inability to be honest with Kollin about those missing years. Always fudging around the issue and you just knew it would have repercussions for their relationship. Kollin was nothing but accepting and understanding when Riley turned up out of the blue, so whilst Riley had his reasons, I didn’t think they were valid enough to withhold vital information from Kollin and this led to trust issues.
I loved catching up with Eli and Adam and Kollin’s little sister Lizzie and the wider family. I love getting a sneak peak at couples from previous books and catching up with where they are in their lives now. Home for Hope, the LGBT youth shelter Adam and Eli created, as always, plays a role in the story and its great to see this continue.
The ending of the story is very poignant and I really enjoyed this part the most. It will leave you with a happy heart. It seemed to me like this book was more Riley’s story than Kollin’s, but I enjoyed the overall character development. It is good addition to a comfortable series.