Rating: 2 stars out of 5
This is the story of Adam and Luc, stepbrothers who have been raised together since they were very small. Best friends and confidants until the age of fourteen, when Luc suddenly turns on his stepbrother and is a monstrous bully, in and out of school. It makes your heart hurt for Adam. Adam works as a teacher at his parent’s dance academy and Luc has fled the hometown for college and a job in marketing, never visiting his parents or his stepbrother. Now though, he gets a call from his mother because the dance academy is in dire financial straits and the parent’s have remortgaged their house to help it out. Mom is desperate for Luc to come home and help them get things back under control. Luc’s pretty selfish, but he does what he is asked, knowing that he will have to face Adam. The best friend and stepbrother who’s life he made hell (even going so far as to be in on the bullying about Adam dancing) is going to be there and Luc has to suck it up.
The story is told in back and forth third person point of view of Luc and Adam. I appreciated that, since it gave some insight into what both of them were thinking and dealing with. When the phone call comes in from workaholic Luc’s mother, he doesn’t’ react well. “Pretty much every conversation they’d had recently had ended up in them both apologizing.” I was sort of annoyed by that because how hard would it be for Luc’s mom to only know her son has abandoned the family and can’t be bothered to even call. To make matters more awkward, Mom has called Luc without telling his stepfather or stepbrother.
I was sad that Adam doesn’t even know how bad things are for the dance school, because no one told him. They just spring Luc on him along with the bad news of the school failing. I don’t think the parents know the full extent of how awful Luc was to Adam, because they keep pushing them together and even warn Adam, “Be nice, I don’t want any animosity between you two.” I wanted more support for Adam because he gave up his dream of professional dancing to help with the school, even more so now because they had to let the other teachers go, while Luc gave up absolutely nothing.
This is a second chance story, so I was very ready for some big time groveling, some explanations and to be shown that Luc has changed his ways and is a better man than he was. That didn’t happen. I may be in the minority about this but Luc really brought down this story for me. I completely understand how having feelings for your stepbrother would knock you for a loop and maybe even understand how you’d bully him to cover that up. Now he’s back and there is literally one mumbled apology and Adam is supposed to just be over it. “Did Adam still hate him for all the stupid things
he’d said and done? There was only one way to find out.” Luc is still a coward and Adam is still hurt. “It brought back memories of crying where no one could see him, because he didn’t understand why his brother-his best friend-had humiliated him at school again.”
It was very difficult to believe Luc. “Communication had never been his strong point.” Umm, you are a marketing genius and communication isn’t your strong point? And Adam points out that Luc broke his mother’s heart when Luc moved far away and then didn’t bother to visit, Adam knowing that Luc will be the miracle worker to save the school and then leave again, with Dad and Adam left to pick up the broken heart of mom, Luc is surprised. What? “He’d known Adam was angry with him, but he hadn’t realized just how bitter his brother was.” Well, you wouldn’t, since you cut off your family unless mom and dad came occasionally to visit.
Adam and Luc are forced to work on ideas to turn the dance school around and it’s so hard for Adam. Luc not only found friends who were bullies. “They tormented Adam because he danced and Luc not only let them, but he’d jeered along with them.” Imagine a hell where you are constantly bullied and you can’t ever get away from it because it’s your own family doing it. With mom and dad oblivious to it all, I am only glad Adam had Mason, his now best friend, to keep him sane.
When Adam extends an olive branch and invites Luc out to a club, Luc is hurt when Adam hooks up and again, acts like the injured one. “I guess you only asked me out tonight to score Brownie points with Mum and Dad. That’s low, Adam, really f**king low.” WHAT? Even then, the one to apologize here is Adam, for leaving Luc at the bar, even though Adam took care of Luc when he came home drunk.
I kept trying to give Luc a chance but throughout the book he acts badly. “This has gone on long enough. How many times do I have to apologize to you?” Except Luc had only done that one mumbled “I’m sorry” and never explained anything. When Adam asks, then demands to know why, “What did I do wrong to make you hate me so much?” Luc is astonished. Why wouldn’t Adam feel that way? Luc treated Adam horribly with no explanation and then disappeared. For years.
These two have been raised since age 5 and 6 as brothers, which is why Luc feels his love towards Adam will not be accepted. He has had years to deal with this. When he finally lays the truth on Adam, Adam is horrified, as you would expect. However, it seems that Adam starts to see things differently after just a dream and a few days and we don’t get the reason why Adam suddenly switches gears. He turns into somewhat of a doormat, always the one apologizing, the one who gives up dreams. It was just sad.
I think what bothered me the most about this was the fact that while I have no issue with the stepbrothers falling in love – they are not blood related and I can see where your best friend would be the one you fall in love with –but that the author continually has them refer to each other as brother and stepbrother. If you are trying to convince people that your relationship is legit, not incestuous, why do you continually do that? And I mean it happens all the way to the end of the book. “…brush his hand over his stepbrother’s thigh”, …he knew his brother wouldn’t accept his touch right now”, “I’m going to suck my brother’s c**k”, etc. My lover, my partner, my boyfriend sure but my brother? No.
There is, of course, fallout all over from this. I was so happy again that Adam has Mason to lean on (and oh why couldn’t Adam be with Mason forever!). I was so disappointed that I didn’t love this because it had such potential, but the whole thing just gave me a negative feel. Luc is selfish and impatient and never did grovel or make the grand gesture. I struggled to finish, thinking he would redeem himself but in my eyes, he never did.
This is my first book by this author and I liked her writing style, even though I didn’t love this book. I would try another book of hers and see if it worked better for me.
The cover art by Colette Davison is pretty, though I do wish the dance aspect had been incorporated into it. We have a white background with two torsos, one behind the other, and that could easily have been a dance.
Published (first published June 26th 2018)