Rating: 5 stars out of 5
What an interesting story! I wasn’t sure I was going to read this at first because of some of my friends’ reviews and because we’ve been having some major issues around depression and anxiety in my family this year. I was afraid it would bring me down. But on the contrary, I found hope in this story, along with courage, strength, and balance. The MCs were so very real to me that I wanted to keep reading long after the last page. (And the good news is there’s going to be more on these men in the near future in the sequel, Coffee.)
John is a big guy: strong, muscular, tall, weighty, and not so good-looking, in his opinion. He is a softie on the inside and has a heart of gold and is the big brother all his younger sisters are fortunate to have. But John is gay and his friends don’t know that and neither do his customers, his rugby teammates, or those he meets on the street. When he stops in to a café to get a cup of tea one day, he startles when he bumps into a gorgeous young man, with long dark curls, and a long, slender body. It’s love at first sight for John, or passion, as Chris calls it, but he’s shocked to learn the young man, Chris, is blind and bases his own assessment of John on what he hears. And he likes what he hears in John’s voice. Later, when the two get to know each other better, we learn that Chris is also transgender and suffers from epilepsy. So many strikes against them, including Chris’s attitude toward “love” and “making love” and boyfriends in general.
Without going into too much detail, John is a victim of a lie that resulted in such a devious case of character assassination that he began to believe the lies himself. Now he cowers at the idea that one of Chris’s family members or a cop or anyone in authority will believe he’s harming Chris in some way—after all, big giant man with smaller blind man. But the truth is that he absolutely loves Chris and would do anything for him, including stop if Chris wants him to stop, and he’s already proven that he will. Chris loves John as well, though it takes him a while to admit it. What I loved most about the story is their strong commitment to each other, their support in all conditions and circumstances. No Big Reveal tears them apart. No Major Misunderstanding comes between them. They are solid. And I can’t begin to say how much I appreciated that.
Add to John’s panic attacks, Chris’s issues related to his epilepsy, his blindness, and gender dysphoria, and this book packs a punch no matter in which direction a reader turns. But the bottom line is it’s well-written, with strong character development, and a commitment that isn’t always evident in any romance novel. I highly recommend it and I can’t wait for the sequel.
The cover by Natasha Snow depicts a typical British cup of tea, complete with pot and fragrant rising steam. It makes me feel like I’m sitting down to have a cuppa with my favorite characters.