Author ~ Ashley John
Published ~ 23rd October 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
On the surface, Ricky Thompson’s life is one long party. His razor sharp wit and unwavering sexual confidence masks his true pain and suffering, and that’s how he wants to keep things. Ten years after the death of his fiancé, Ricky has completely given up on the illusion of love. Wild nights in the bar and even wilder casual sex have become his coping mechanism, and he wants to keep the party going at whatever cost. When he is attacked in a dark alley and left for dead, Ricky’s life takes an unexpected turn and the party suddenly comes to an end.
Chase Brody doesn’t know where life is taking him. Between running his gym and raising his son, Dylan, the only time he puts himself first is his once a week trip to the gay bars. His family has convinced him he needs to find a mother for Dylan, so he keeps his sexual desires secret. He always believed women were for love and men were for sex, but he is forced to reevaluate everything he thought he knew when he stumbles across a helpless man in need of his help.
After Chase takes Ricky to the hospital, he offers him free self-defense classes, but it soon grows into something more complicated and both men are forced to listen to their hearts once again. Chase doesn’t know how Ricky will fit into his difficult life, and Ricky can’t seem to let go of his past heartache. With so much at stake, will these men admit they were wrong about love and surrender their hearts to each other, or is the risk too great?
Although this book is a standalone, if you’ve read Timing you’ll remember Ricky as Tom’s friend and also remember his alter-ego, Miss Kitty Litter the drag DJ. I really liked Ricky in that book and was glad to see more of him here, though it may be harder for you to warm up the brashness that is Ricky if you haven’t already seen his sweet, caring side.
Ricky equates love with heartbreak. He has spent last 10 years having meaningless sex, following rules that keep feelings out of the picture. He’s basically a “one and done” kind of guy. He says he’s happy the way he is, but his friends Tom and Cole aren’t convinced. Soon even Miss Kitty Litter isn’t enough to keep Ricky from cracking.
Tattoo covered, muscular gym owner Chase lives for his six year old son. He works and goes home except for the occasional nights where he finds a hook up at one of the gay bars. He tolerates the father that walked out on him and his family when he was a kid for the sake of his son. His brother seems to be a lot like his father and his bitchy sister-in-law harps on him non-stop about his parenting skills and finding Dylan a mother. The only one who seemed tolerable in the family was Barbara, the woman his father left the family for, but she really didn’t have a lot of page time. He allows his awful family to shape the way he thinks, and is convinced he needs to find a mother for his son, so he hides his attraction to men.
When Chase is on his way back to a hook-up’s apartment one night, he finds Ricky badly beaten in an alley and calls for help, staying with Ricky in the hospital until he wakes up. When Ricky takes him up on his offer of some self-defense classes, they strike up an unlikely friendship that soon turns physical. Chase’s brother makes it clear that he doesn’t know why Chase is wasting his time hanging around Ricky and Chase’s bigoted father turns out to be the officer who is investigating Ricky’s case. Chase tries to keep the nature of his relationship with Ricky secret from his family and Ricky tries to keep Chase at arm’s length.
These two have plenty of secrets that slowly come out and some hurt more than others. The real crux of the problem however is can Ricky let go of the past and risk his heart again on Chase and, does he even want to? For Chase the problem is bigger. Even as he starts to admit that he’s not completely straight, and starts to accept himself, he still allows the family that thinks so little of him to have a lot of sway over his life choices, and they’ve convinced him he needs a mother for his son. He is afraid to come out to this horrible family for some reason and goes to great lengths to hide Ricky from his family and his family from Ricky.
I was a bit hot and cold on Chase. I understood he was trying to figure out his sexuality and trying to do what was best for his son, but one moment he’s being a doormat and the next saying he didn’t care what anyone thinks, it was pretty frustrating at times. Ricky was pretty consistent throughout although he does take some drastic steps when all the feelings between him and Chase got too strong. I would have liked to see Ricky interact more with Chase’s son Dylan as the little time we did see them together was pretty awkward and adorable.
The two had great chemistry and I did enjoy much of their time together. They are both trying so hard to fight the best thing to have happened to either of them in a long time though and it did, at times, become a bit repetitive. I think a bit of editing would have definitely helped the flow of the book.
There was a lovely bit of support in Chase’s elderly neighbor Annie and of course, Cole and Tom are back and have plenty of interaction with the guys too. The book definitely had its highs and lows for me, but I think if you liked Ricky in Timing you’re going to want to read this. There was a lot of back and forth, but not a lot of angst. If hurt-comfort is your thing and you don’t mind occasionally wanting to knock some sense into your MCs as they really fight against getting to their HEA Ricky will probably work well for you.
Meet Ashley John
Ashley John is a young gay author of gay romance novels. Living in the north of England with his fiancé and two cats, Ashley John spends his days writing down the voices he hears in his head. His books are primarily romance dramas with sprinklings of erotica and he has a knack for making you feel like you're living right beside the characters he creates. Ashley John is also a keen artist and he puts his artistic side to designing all of his own covers.
Find Ashley John at ashleyjohn.co.uk