REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT REVIEWS BY JESSEWAVE WHERE I RECEIVED THE BOOK AS FREE REVIEWING COPY
really liked The Square Peg (reviewed by Lasha here) and I thought Vin was a very intriguing secondary character, so when I heard that the writers are going to write his story, I could not wait to read it. I do not think you will get lost if you start reading this book first, but I think you would get better sense of Vin and Patrick if you start with The Square Peg. Besides it would be a shame to miss Ben and Shane's love story .
While Ben and Shane do start in this book as supporting characters, this is first and foremost Vin's story as blurb tells you. The characters drive this story - this book is mostly concerned with Vin's finding happiness with someone ;) and with growth in the characters that leads to this happiness. Vin is confident and likeable bartender, who did not have sex not because he had any issues with it, which was very refreshing for me, but because he was (or he was telling himself that he was) in love with a guy from his high school. We can see that Patrick and Vin are very good friends in the first story, and closer to the end we also start to see that they could become more than friends, however Riley comes to the bar and the first book ends.
In this story Vin gets a chance to explore what they could have with Riley, while his friendship with Patrick also deepens and I really liked how it was done. As you can see from the blurb at twenty three Vin never had sex because he was hoping that he could have something with Riley one day and he thought of Riley as his one true love. Whether you find it convincing or not that twenty three year old could make that decision (I did), I thought it all made perfect sense for Vin.
God knows that I had read about plenty of virgin characters in m/m romances and Vin stood out from so many of them in a very good way. First of all he was not shy, he did not have any self confidence problems, he just chose not to have sex because he thought himself being in love. Because according to so many m/m romances people who choose not to have sex just have to be very shy or they had some kind of abuse in their past. And of course these all valid reasons, all I am saying that I think that person may choose not to have sex for so many reasons and only a tiny part of those reasons usually is being explored in romances IMO. Vin is also portrayed as a very serene person, Patrick sometimes called him Zen master and it completely made sense for me that if the buildup was important for him during sex that the long waiting also made sense for him. Having said all that, of course Vin had some insecurities based on his sexual inexperience, but I thought it did not translate to the other parts of his personality if that makes sense.
I also really liked how Vin's journey towards finding his true love was done. Blurb is silent on whom he would end up with, so I am not going to tell you that, but I think you can see from the blurb that no matter whether he would end up with Patrick or Riley, he would end up with a guy he considered a friend. Vin was good friends with Riley in high school, then they lost touch, but Vin thought he knew Riley really well based on that friendship and that would made sense if the writers would chose to go that direction. Of course people do change during five years apart, but I think that since they lost touch at eighteen and reconnected at twenty three, it could still made sense in realm of romance at least, where people could meet again ten, twelve, fifteen years later and rekindle the lost flames of attraction :) .
The friendship between Vin and Patrick though was built up right in front of our eyes and I really liked that friendship. I thought the mix between genuine liking of each other as people and the attraction both were kind of aware of was very lovely. I wish more romances did such a nice job in slow built up to be honest. I have to say though that even though I liked Patrick a lot, I had some niggles with his portrayal. More specifically, I have to ask, why the guy who likes to have sex just have to have some issues and have a lot of sex *because* he has those issues? I mean, surely it is normal for the young person (man OR woman) to have a lot of casual sex if they so desire? Why do they have to be at least a little broken and that should lead into casual sex? I mean to a degree I do understand an appeal in romance going from many sexual partners to your soul mate, your love, whatever. But surely the person could just simply realize that they WANT to have a monogamous partner, to fell in love and that appeals to them more than a casual sex, not because it is *wrong* to have a lot of sex, as long as you stay safe?
Do not get me wrong, I do not think that the writers overdid it with Patrick. He is not a wreck or anything like that and he does exactly what I wanted him to do - realizes that he wants something different from his life, but yeah I thought that it was portrayed that his life was kind of a mess and casual sex was partially the reason (or was it a consequence?). I have read by now a whole lot of works in this genre. I have to say that I remember *one* character (no, not kidding), who was portrayed as a gentle, generous soul and who had a lot of sex not because he was broken, not because he was a mess, but because he liked it, till he met his love and he liked that more. I wish for more characters like that. Patrick was a sweetie, but honestly, the brokenness connected with lots of sex is not my favorite part of his characterization.
Overall I did like this book and can recommend it.