Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Whew! I’m emotionally exhausted from following just a few weeks in the lives of Alfie and Fen as they rediscover each other and move their relationship forward from enemies to lovers.
When Alfie leaves his posh London apartment, secured with money he’s made while working as a financial guru for the past seven years, he drives in his equally posh sports car back to his hometown of South Shields in Northern England where nothing is posh. It’s rundown and depressing, and yet he feels hopeful and renewed by getting in touch with his roots. A night out has an unexpected result—he spies a hot twink with long hair and a gorgeous ass in the local bar, but when the two end up in bed together he learns this isn’t a stranger at all. It’s the guy he knew as James in high school—a guy who he bullied and tortured to the point where James’s life was so miserable he went by his middle name, instead of his real name of Fenimore, nicknamed Fen. And Fen is shocked when he learns Alfie doesn’t recognize him at all, but he sets Alfie straight when he gives him the tongue-lashing he deserves—and not the kind of tongue Alfie may have been hoping for.
Though the story was long, I enjoyed the fact that the author took the time to explore each man’s personality and psyche individually and then together, weaving memories of their pasts with the present, unfurling Alfie’s feelings of his discovery of being gay, and then of falling in love, and finally, of realizing what love really means and of coming to terms with who he is. At times heartbreaking, at times infused with humor, each man’s story is unique, and yet the stories are easily intertwined to bring the couple to the present where they discover a love neither had envisioned and neither is willing to give up.
I was swept up in their story, at times rooting for Alfie, at times crying for Fen, and once—wanting to smack Alfie upside the head for listening to advice from Fen’s father. Thankfully, the story ended with a HEA—always the best ending in my opinion. I recommend this to those who enjoy MM romance, especially a romance that takes the time to fully develop between two men who were at odds previously and now learn to appreciate the best and worst in each other’s lives.
The cover by Simoné is fantastic! In fact, I chose the book based on the cover. It clearly depicts Pansies, the flower shop around which the story is based, and it shows the couple in a joyous moment—big, muscular Alfie, holding a smaller, lithe Fen as they laugh together in front of the shop.
Kindle Edition, 376 pages
Published October 8th 2016 by Riptide Publishing